Quebec Gives Up On English Language Laws The OQLF loses its battle.
It seems like the OQLF has been misinterpreting the language laws and enforcing rules that didn’t actually exist.
The Couillard government wanted to force multinationals to add french descriptions to their signage, but the Quebec court pointed out that they actually can’t enforce that rule.
Eight big businesses were being targeted specifically. The businesses in question were Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, Curves, Guess, Gap, Old Navy and Toys ‘R’ Us.
The last time the language issue was discussed, the courts sided with the multinationals claiming that it was not necessary to add French desriptions to businesses with English trademarks.
In fact, in April of last year, five judges from the court of appeal concluded that the OQLF was not allowed to force businesses with English trademarks to add a french description to their signs.
Here’s why there was so much confusion about the rule.
Under the Bouchard Government, it was established that you could not force a chain of businesses to modify their names if they are a registered trademark.
Under the Charest Government, the law was misinterpreted so the OQLF thought they could force these businesses to add a french description, and if they didn’t comply they wanted to be able to fine them and take away their francization certificate. As it turns out they weren’t actually allowed to do that.
This was later confirmed when the Conseil Canadien du Commerce de Détail obtained a legal notice that stated the OQLF was not interpreting the laws correctly.
Do you think that this new information will help business flourish again in Quebec?
La Presse adds that (Quebec) After a long reflection, Couillard government will shortly present a regulation to force supermarkets to put the French on their facades. But Quebec is the finding that it can not force these corporations to add a descriptive term in French to their English trademark.
Without giving details, the Prime Minister Philippe Couillard, in his interview midterm La Presse , had alluded to an upcoming announcement of the Minister responsible for the Charter of the French language, Luc Fortin, in this case. According to information obtained from, ask Quebec to supermarkets such as Walmart, Costco Wholesale or Best Buy to provide the French signage on their façade.
But the legal opinions of Québec concluded that the government can not force these businesses to add a descriptive term in French to their English trademark. There is one year, the minister Hélène David had toyed with the idea, but nothing had come out in public due to put in legal custody.
The settlement of Quebec, which will be pre-published for 45 days following the usual procedure, following a consultation tour made by the current Minister Luc Fortin at the time he was Parliamentary Secretary to Minister David. After this tour with these major retailers, we do not expect any legal challenges, it is explained backstage.
Quebec against the "eight Anglos"
Couillard The government decided last year not to ask the Supreme Court for permission to appeal an adverse judgment of the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of a group of eight multinationals that wanted to protect their brand Business English.
In April 2015, five judges of the Court of Appeal had dismissed Quebec who wanted to see invalidate a verdict of the Superior Court in April 2014. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision which concluded that the Charter of the French language does not allow the Quebec Office of the French language (OLF) to impose the use of a descriptive term in French to retailers whose trademark is exclusively in English. The eight multinationals that had succeed are: Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, Curves, Guess, Gap, Old Navy and Toys "R" Us.
Commenting on the verdict, Philippe Couillard, who always opposes what tightens the Charter of the French language, had even considered to legislate to amend Bill 101 to correct the situation. Retailers fault "does not have the common courtesy, vis-à-vis their customers, to indicate a reminder of their knowledge of the French fact in Quebec," Mr. Couillard was launched at the National Assembly. But Couillard government, any more than governments or Bouchard Charest does not intend to reopen Bill 101.
A debate continues
The debate around social reasons English has endured for decades. Under the Bouchard government, when Louise Beaudoin was responsible for the Charter of the language, the Language Council had produced a notice that the government could not change the name of a chain of stores, if it was a mark registered trade. Under Jean Charest, as Christine St-Pierre, it was believed that one could impose a qualifier to explain the vocation of French trade, Hardware Home Depot, for example, but rather the latest opinions indicate that we can not even call these registered trademarks. Some channels had voluntarily gone this route a qualifier in French to their name, the Second Cup, for example.
The regulation will not have the same effect everywhere; Canadian Tire, for example, could argue that it also displays its French gardening departments, its automotive service or sporting goods. The task will be harder for Costco Wholesale, whose name is visible from a distance of several major roads in Quebec.
The confrontation in court between the multinationals and Quebec dates back to 2012. The Quebec Office of the French language, endorsed by Minister Christine St-Pierre, had formally demanded that several companies that displayed their trademark in English will add a generic name, such as "store". We even merely a slogan in French. If they do not comply with the directive, chains offenders could lose their francization certificate and be fined.
Through the Canadian Council of retail trade (RCC), the retailers covered had approached the office of Premier Jean Charest, but in vain. RCC has obtained a legal opinion from the Norton Rose law firm which supported the OLF misinterpreted the Regulation respecting the language of commerce and business. Thus, a retailer can display its trademark in English only; it is only the name of the company, often different, which must be accompanied by a descriptive term in French, alleging lawyers firms. Some of them held for a decade their francization certificate and the OLF had never asked them to change their trademark. However, neither the statute nor the regulations had not changed.