Regulations announced Tuesday by Culture Minister Hélène David will require businesses with non-French trademarks to display prominent French signage, whether it is a slogan, a description or a message about what’s on sale.
“It was essential to act in favour of the French language, which remains the common thread of our history,” David told a news conference outside a Montreal Wal-Mart (sic).
David said that over the past 10 years, complaints to Quebec’s language watchdog about businesses with English names have been increasing. But the courts have determined that under existing language regulations, companies with an English brand name were not obliged to add a French phrase to their signs.
In 2014, ruling on a court action brought by Best Buy, Costco, Gap, Old Navy, Guess, Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us and Curves, Superior Court Justice Michel Yergeau wrote that it is up to the government to legislate if it believes a “wave” of English trademarks threatens Quebec’s French character.
David pitched the new signs as “an opportunity to enrich Quebec’s French face” that could prove profitable to business. “It is a sign of respect toward the cultural environment of the Quebec collectivity,” she said.
The Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce expressed support for the proposed changes. “We always support efforts and reasonable measures from the government that favour the French fact while contributing to the linguistic peace we observe today,” federation president Françoise Bertrand said.