Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Language censors vs. union workers

Around the time the Catholic Church was declining in power and influence in Quebec, two movements were gaining steam: the unions and the nationalists.

Today, the union movement has the power to thwart a government's plan to scale back the civil service. They can mobilize thousands of workers to strike, block taffic, burn effigies.

Meanwhile, the nationalists took control of government and enacted laws mandating the supremacy of French and censored English on public street signs, billboards, bus ads -- even the junk mail flyers delivered to your home. They are a powerful force.

So, what happens when the the immovable force (the unions) hit the irresistable object (the nationalist language censors)?

I cannot be certain, but I suspect the two Montreal street signs (pictured below) was the scene of an epic battle between these two forces.

You will note that the offending "St." on the Snowdon St. sign has been covered up with white tape. Yet, the equally-offending Clanranald Avenue sign has been left unmolested.

Street sign in MontrealHere is what I think happend: City of Montreal union employees were sent to censor the two street signs. But their union bosses decided it was against union policy to cover up both signs even though the signs are inches apart. Like their brothers (and sisters) on pothole duty, the sign taper-uppers decided one tape-job per hour was all they would do.

So, the city workers censored the Snowdon St. sign and went to lunch. By the time they finished eating, it was 3pm and they forgot about the other sign.

That's my theory. How else can one explain why one sign has been covered up while the other continues to taunt the language censors with it's ugly English letters.

Remember, in Quebec, the unions always win.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe because "avenue" is also a French term meaning just the same as the English definition. "Avenue des Champs-Elysées" is a famous example.