From The Gazette

Dollard des Ormeaux

Menchie’s gets taste of language controversy

  • Erika Schwartz holds up one of the spoons that triggered complaint.
    Erika Schwartz holds up one of the spoons that triggered complaint.
    Photo credit: Ryan Remiorz, Canadian press

The owner of a frozen yogurt outlet in Dollard-des-Ormeaux says he never set out to challenge the Office québécois de la langue française when he posted an update on his store’s Facebook page last Thursday evening. The reaction to the item on the social media site has sparked another chorus of public outrage against the provincial language law enforcement agency – especially in the anglophone community.

The response from the public has been incredible, said store owner David Lipper. The expression of support for his company reflects a growing sentiment of outrage in the community triggered by an anonymous complaint that his store was using plastic spoons with English-only slogans. “We’re seeing a reaction that is much bigger than a spoon.”

The reaction also caused the OQLF to issue a statement last Friday accusing “certain media outlets” of taking comments from social media sites and turning them into news without verifying the facts.

An OQLF spokesman, Martin Bergeron, said Friday the Menchie’s outlet in

Dollard has not been fined, nor ordered to take any action. An inspector visited the outlet merely to verify a complaint the Office had received. The dossier will now be studied.

Bergeron said the store owner was handed a letter explaining why the inspection was being carried out. “That is all.” If there is an infraction, the owners will be notified. “We will treat this file as we normally do, with much rigour.”

An OQLF inspector visited the Menchie’s store on St-Jean Blvd. on June 14 to verify a complaint that the outlet had English slogans on plastic spoons it provides to customers.

“(The inspector) examined the spoons and said, ‘You only have English on the spoons,’ and ‘you can’t have that.’ So we took them out,” Lipper said.

Lipper then had his manager run out and buy generic white plastic spoons and immediately started using them.

In the days that followed, Lipper said customers kept asking staff what had happened to the store’s colourful spoons. The distinctive plastic utensils have franchise characters in the handles and slogans that

say “It’s my mix” and “It’s mooosic” moulded into them. So to answer customers, Lipper posted a note on the store’s Facebook page.

The post read: “Many of you have been asking “What happened to the Menchie’s spoons?” We were visited by (the) Office Quebec (sic) de la Langue Francaise and they cited us for having English moulded in the spoons, apparently responding to a complaint. We are working

as fast as we can to get new spoons made just for our Quebec stores, at a large expense to us. Unfortunately, they all come from Menchie’s HQ right now and the spoons have a few English words moulded into the stem. So we are looking to have a new supplier just for our soon-tobe 3 Montreal stores. Thank you again for your patience as we work hard to meet all the Quebec standards. Your team at Menchie’s DDO!”

Lipper said he simply wanted to comply with the law, and admitted the spoons might have slipped by him as they are supplied by the Los Angeles-based franchise. He had no intention of igniting a political battle.

“I really don’t want to go head-to-head with these guys,” he said. “I’m not fighting them; I’m trying to be compliant.” But within minutes of posting his explanation on Facebook,

people started commenting.

“Within seconds, we started to get comments. And within hours, we had hundreds of comments.” As for the statement issued last Friday by the OQLF that the media incorrectly reported that he had been told not to use the spoons and that its investigation was not complete, Lipper said the inspector was very clear. She told him to stop using the spoons until he heard back from the Office.

The outlet has since resumed using the original franchise-issued spoons that have the English slogans moulded into the stems last Friday evening, after Lipper received a notice from the OQLF informing him that he can, in fact, use them until the Office completes its analysis of the complaint. He also spoke with a OQLF official on the phone who informed him that a ruling should be rendered in the coming week. Lipper said he has invested a lot of money to translate all the company material to open the first Menchie’s franchise in Quebec. He is now in the process of opening a third store in the Montreal region.

“It shows how difficult it can be to open a new business in Quebec from the States,” he said. “Is there a bigger issue going on here that this has ignited? It’s clear to me that there is.”

To read Brenda O’Farrell’s blog: What should you do when the language police come calling?”  click here.

37 comments

  1. By Lawrence

    The Canadian Dollar has English on it. How come there still using that. we should take it off the market right now just as a precaution. Let them use the Franc? It’s to bad that we do not have the power for all the non separatists to move out all at once, just so they see the difference without us Quebecers.

    • By L B Harris

      Couldn’t agree more – it is a bloody spoon! Don’t ever worry whether or not it is clean or produced with materials dangerous to one’s health; just ensure it has the right language on it. This is where english speaking people differ from the french; we just want a spoon that is clean and can be used for its intended purpose; we have more important issues in the world to deal with than whether there is japanese, chinese, spanish, etc writing on the spoon – when we want to read, we read a newspaper or book; IF YOU’RE FRENCH YOU READ A SPOON, WASHROOM DOORS/WALLS, ETC.

    • By Sabrina

      Seriously. its a freaking spoon I would understand if the workers at that place was only english workers but it is after all an american company. I am outraged at this “Language police” crap. Its bs. Like I couldnt care less if it had french on it buuut c’mon why does it have to be a FRENCH ONLY province now. The ENGLISH and the Amerindians CREATED this country why can’t we really just all get a long and work everything out fairly. Why do people hate other people because they dont speak the same language. Why do people think they are more superior and smarter if someone has troubles speaking their language or don’t yet at all. Atleast they are trying . :/ We are all people. We all need to live, why create a war on something as silly as language.

  2. Look out! here come the facebook gang to pay attention to the pretentious matters that hit their facebook wall in the morning and ignore the real matters that could actually affect them.

    Must admit though Lawrence makes a GREAT point, no matter what these language “officials” say, they can’t change any English signs / displays until they francophonize the dollar bills. I can’t believe that has never been mentioned.

  3. Music from “jaws”…… Aaah!! It’s the Spoon!!!! “Run for your life”
    I thought it was the “Straw ” that broke the camels back!
    Oh well at least their working for our tax dollars! Next stop
    Is the embossed toilet paper ! Somehow I like the idea of using
    French only.”Awww …….#####!

  4. I love how the media turned this around, pretending like they were getting fined.

    The OQLF just investigates on complaints and looks into them, and informs the establishment on the reason why someone has complained. That way, they can either change it, or wait to see what the results are on the matter.
    If it’s fine, it’s fine. People have gone a little too crazy about these “gates”, because chances are, the place isn’t going to get fined, it’s just a warning that it may not work with the present laws.

    I’m an Anglophone myself, but all of this wailing “I’m a victim” and running to the media all the time gets kind of tiring. No wonder we are not liked by some people. Do we need to sink so low just because we refuse to follow some simple rules?

    • Running to the media (traditional or social) is one of the few avenues left available to people who feel they may be getting stepped on by the government. Obviously, the government has an agenda and safeguarding anglo rights is not high on their list. Perhaps it’s not so much waling as it is fear and frustration.

    • Robert, seriously?? They don’t need anyone to complain, they do what they want! If we don’t complain, they will continue this nonsensical behaviour! Give them an inch, they will take a mile!! They have quite a budget for this stupidity, yet our schools r struggling, our homeless r in greater numbers etc… Put the money where it will truly make a difference! A spoon with English lettering will not b the end of the French language!! They need to get over this insecurity!

    • “running to the media all the time gets kind of tiring.”

      You’re right. It does get tiring. But you have to work hard and fight for your rights if you’re going to keep them.

      “No wonder we are not liked by some people.”

      I have news for you: Those “some people” will never like you no matter how much you kiss their associations.
      But if you want to acquiesce to their outright discrimination then nobody is going to like you (eventually, even yourself).

    • With all due respect Robert,

      That is our problem here in Quebec, we don’t speak loud enough when this happens. We just sit back and take it, well enough is enough and I as do many others, will continue to encourage people to speak out very loudly against the racist and facists PQ and seperatists!!!!

  5. To the person that filed a complaint with the OQLF about the English on the spoons…perhaps you should have complained to the OQGL instead…..Office Québécoise de la Get a Life.

    • Also, a perfect example of how taxpayer dollars are wasted to employ a loser to go around reviewing “dossiers” on this nonsense. What a useless job. But then again, it starts from the top.

  6. By tony nero

    if we dont put an end to this nonsense…we will wake up one morning with not being able to utter a non french word in public for fear of offending these authoritarians with the stench of fascism wreacking out from their narrow minded and distasteful persona……they have 30% of the popular vote and are acting as if they have the moral support of all quebecers…if we dont put a stop to this by fighting for proportional representation in the national assembly we will only have ourselves to blame….

  7. By Hugh Kiddin

    Well why not offer all the yogurt to the offended french customers without a spoon.just so they aren’t hurt too much. Perhaps going back to no utensils at all is where Quebec is headed anyway..the stone-age.
    The whole language police thing is absurd,everyone knows it,french & english always got along relatively well,without the meddling of an over zealous government,who have managed to make ‘la belle province’ a laughing stock .
    You know the without spoons they will truly be losing their ‘culture’……hahahahaha all the BS language laws & makes everything equal,(just like they expect everywhere else they visit.) It would be nice if everyone spoke french,including the french with those wonderful culture inspired orders for food,like une gros ‘all dressed’ svp avec une ‘hamburger’ et deaux ‘hotdog all dressed’ ………..yup it would be nice to preserve those everyday heard orders in that french culture of theirs Yes it certainl is not ‘le belle province’ that ‘je me souviens’……………..lol
    I wonder when there will ever be an end to the stupidity,& a political party comes forward and strikes down

  8. By Hugh Kiddin

    Well why not offer all the yogurt to the offended french customers without a spoon.just so they aren’t hurt too much. Perhaps going back to no utensils at all is where Quebec is headed anyway..the stone-age.
    The whole language police thing is absurd,everyone knows it,french & english always got along relatively well,without the meddling of an over zealous government,who have managed to make ‘la belle province’ a laughing stock .
    You know that without spoons they truly will be losing their ‘culture’……hahahahaha I wonder when & if there will ever be an end to the stupidity,& a political party comes forward and strikes down all the BS language laws & makes everything equal,(just like they expect everywhere else they visit.) It would be nice if everyone spoke french,including the french with those wonderful culture inspired orders for food,like une gros ‘all dressed’ svp avec une ‘hamburger’ et deaux ‘hotdog all dressed’ ………..yup it would be nice to preserve those everyday heard orders in that french culture of theirs Yes it certainly is not ‘le belle province’ that ‘je me souviens’……………..lol

  9. Actually according to a provision in the language law, embedded lettering is an exception and is not subject to the “must have French” conditions as others. It was mentioned on CJAD by lawyer Dino Mazone this past weekend on the morning show. Perhaps that is something for the QLF to verify first before it mandates what can and can not be indicated on plastic cutlery.

  10. By VD Resident

    If this spoon is detrimental to the existence of “Quebecois Culture”, then your culture is not that strong to begin with, and it deserves to be lost. Funny, how every minority here seems to have maintained their culture for generations (Chinese, Arabs, South Asians, Italians, etc, etc), and don’t see the English majority in North America as a threat to their culture. I will never buy this “Threat to our culture” BS. Nor will I ever speak French in public again.

  11. By VD Resident

    Why can’t these nimwits that are offended at the sight of English, just not come to that store again. Common sense seems to be lacking these morons.

  12. By martine

    when you have no vision ,you have to find fault with those that do. that is a courageous businessman to open a business in quebec these days.

  13. I think we all know the OLF is a pain and really misguided. To me the real offense in all of this? Just how quickly that store owner complied with the OLF – that to me is the real joke in all of this. Shame on you for capitulating so so quickly – frankly YOU should be ashamed.

  14. why dont we do like the people in ottawa city , everybody speak french and english and it,s so fun in ottawa and lots of culture emerge from ottawa :(

  15. there should not be a language police at all. they do not want to be seen in the same light as Hilter but yet they create things like the language police, I would not be surprised if at some point French and English alike don’t stand against the government. They are foolish thinking that they are doing a favor for the future French population.

  16. AWWWW ISNT THAT A SHAM .THEY SHOULD JUST USE THERE HANDS .ID LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THEY DO IN A AIRPLANE .WHEN ALL THE SAFETY STUFF IS IN ENGLISH

  17. By Elaine Sexton

    I would love to see who the person was who reported the “spoon”..gone are the days when ppl took a stand they showed their face.. If he/she is so proud of their stand for the language…tell us who you are.Two face hypocrite.

  18. As much as I am against the OQLF and how much of our tax money is wasted on this government agency. Why doesn’t Menchie just buy regular white plastic spoons… It would probably save them money in the long run, plus the spoons end up in the garbage anyways. I know my comment has nothing to do with the actual issues here, but i hate companies that mass produce custom plastic products just so that they end up in a landfill after consumption.

  19. well i think they lang police should all be fired (save us some tax dollars)
    had a contractor do some work around the house and noticed that his tractor had a lot of waring signs in English (non in french) asked if he got a second set of the signs in french he said no but the manual was in both.
    seems a spoon is more important than a tractor.
    please note that while on vacation i bought a lawn mower in Alberta some years back (no pst in alberta must be an honest government ) and was supplied with a french set of warnings

  20. By Pierre Vaillancourt

    What an embarrassment Quebec is to French Canadians here in Manitoba!
    Don’t these foolish diehard separatists realize that their absurd antics make
    Quebec look like some backwater,uncultured, bigoted hellhole? Shameful !

  21. Time to play hard ball with these mother*******!
    Next time someone says speak French, I’ll just kick ‘em in the nuts
    I say stop being a bunch of sissies and DO something about it!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>