Montreal pub warned TripAdvisor sticker could violate language laws

MONTREAL -- The owner of a Montreal pub says he was shocked to receive a letter from the province's French-language watchdog warning him that a small sticker in the restaurant's window could contravene Quebec's language laws.

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Paul Desbaillets, who co-owns the Burgundy Lion Pub in the southwest of Montreal, said the business received a warning earlier this week from the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francais (OQLF) over a beer-coaster-sized sticker that states -- in English only -- that the establishment has been recommended by users of the popular travel website

" 1/8The letter 3/8 said we needed to pay attention to the TripAdvisor sticker -- the three inch sticker -- that is in our window," Desbaillets said. "It said that that the words 'recommended on' could be an issue with the language laws in Quebec."

Desbaillets' business partner Toby Lyle posted the story on Facebook, where it was widely shared. He included photos of the sticker, which is placed about two feet above the ground next to a much larger, French-only sticker promoting recycling.

"Notice to all restaurateurs: If you are fortunate enough to be well reviewed on TripAdvisor, don't let anyone know about it," Lyle wrote.

Desbaillets said that although the tone of the letter wasn't threatening, his first reaction was one of disbelief that the province would spend tax dollars on "some of the most ridiculous signage issues and language conversations you can think of" instead of on more important issues.

"If this is where money and resources and efforts are being thrown when they could instead be thrown into job creation, business growth, immigration help...that doesn't help business growth overall," he said.

Desbaillets said he has previously received a complaint from the OQLF over the use of the words "fish and chips" at another restaurant he co-owns, Brit & Chips.

Jean-Pierre Le Blanc of the OQLF said the letter was one of more than 300 that were sent simply to inform business owners that the stickers are also available in French.

"We noticed over the years that many companies were putting up small signs only in English," he said. "It's an information campaign aimed at notifying businesses that the information is also available in French or bilingual."

He said no complaints had been filed against the Burgundy Lion and no further action would be taken.

Desbaillets said that although his pub was "absolutely not" planning to remove the English-language TripAdvisor sticker, he had no problem adding a second one in French.


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