Thursday, July 13, 2006

All the crazy nonsense that's fit to print

My goal with this blog thingy is to write about things on my mind. A lot of the time, those things include Katharine McPhee, funny videos on YouTube and videos of Katherine McPhee on YouTube.

Sadly, I'm sometimes brought back to reality stories about accused terrorists who attended my alma matter or bureaucrats making people's lives miserable. In the past week or so, I've written a lot about stuff like that.

And today again. New Quebec reader Uncle Ted has another example of bureaucratic and government interference.

My girlfriend's company was yesterday visited by the infamous Quebec Language Police (Office de la langue francaise), who proceeded to inform them of the various violations of Quebec's infamous Bill 101 and associates.

The story includes the suggestion that all PCs must have all their software replaced with French versions rather than English, in spite of the worker's preference, and at company cost, and that keyboards either be replaced with official craparse French-Canadian ones, or have stickers placed over the offending keys (which are lacking cedillas and the like - much like the one I am currently using.)
A friend who works at an unnamed large Canadian company headquartered in Montreal was visited by the language police a few years ago. The company played along and replaced all the keyboards and phones as requested. The inspectors confirmed the changes were made. Then the company changed it all back the next week.

Another friend who works in an unnamed service-based company is currently involved the same mess. The language cops want all employees to work on French-language versions of MS Office, regardless of whether the employees are more comfortable working in English. What makes this especially terrible for employees is that Excel formulas work differently in French. Which means if the company ever complied with the request, its staff would be crippled. I suspect the company would rather pay continual fines than ask their employees to work with a metaphorical arm tied behind their metaphorical back.

Bottom line: I apologize there haven't been more photos of Katharine McPhee here for a while.

UPDATE: I spoke with a lawyer friend familiar with the law and he assures me that Bill 101 does not require all employees to have French-language software/keyboards, etc. All the law says is that a company must provide French language software (etc.) if the employee asks for it. Which seems very reasonable to me.

Here's a CBC report on this from June 21, 2000:

Last Updated Wed Jun 21 14:32:49 2000

MONTREAL-- A provincial court ruling could put into question tough Quebec laws that mandate the use of French in the workplace.

"(The government) has no power, jurisdiction or discretion to require exclusive use of French software under the Charter of the French Language."
Justice Pierre Dalphond

The Quebec Superior Court ruled on Tuesday that the provincial government can't require businesses in the province to use French-language computer software.

A spokesman for the Language Minister says government reaction is expected on Wednesday. There's no word on whether the government would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The court decided that a group of French- and English-speaking pharmaceutical employees had the right to use English computer software at work — as long as the French language was still protected in the workplace.

The lawyer for the workers calls the ruling one of the most important judgments on the interpretation of the language legislation.

The government had told the court the employees must use French-language software because it was the equivalent to English-language versions available on the market. It added that its goal was to protect the employees' right to work in French.

People who work at several pharmaceutical companies in Montreal began the lawsuit in 1998.


Anonymous said...

Allo Blockheads,

Resistance is futile you will be assimilated!

Eventually we will beat down your will and you will all talk and work in the lovely french language.

ss_doug said...

In Quebec, language speaks you!

Anonymous said...

Hello, we r from glasgow. We are also wired, out th nut. Therfore and hence forth, i must tell u a joke. What is green and smells like red paint? Green PAINT!!yaman.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this has just happened at my company which until now has been a great place to work... I can understand and fully support offering a French interface to French-speaking employees, but the company refuses to supply the English version of MS Office and operating systems to any employee that is based in Quebec, even if your mother tongue, and all of your work, is in English...

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous.

If you read this, you should send an email to the assignment editor at The Gazette, Ross Teague:

If you want to be anonymous, tell him. Give him the contact info for people in your company -- whoever is in charge of taking away your English software.

Once the company hears The Gazette is asking questions, management will discuss it and will give you your software back.

If not, the company will look foolish in the newspaper, especially when some legal expert explains that the company is allowed to let its employees use the English software, if that is their choice.