Friday, July 14, 2006

Premier Charest to burbs: Gesetz als Gesetz

As much as I loathe the Quebec Censorship Boardtm bureaucrats who threaten businesses and municipal governments for not complying with their interpretation of language censorship laws, in the end responsibility for the law and its application falls upon elected officials.

And what does Premier Jean Charest (of the Quebec "Liberal" Party) have to say about it? The law is the law.

VIENNA, Austria -- The Montreal-area municipality of Beaconsfield must conform with Quebec's language laws on its street signs, Premier Jean Charest said Thursday.

"Like all citizens, whether they are businesses, institutions or individuals, everyone must respect the laws,'' Charest said in Austria, where he is in the midst of a two-week official visit to Europe.

The largely anglophone municipality, which demerged from Montreal last January, has refused to change street names to give them a more French flavour. Consequently, the city is fighting the wishes of Quebec's language office and a provincial commission on place names.

Beaconsfield's council recently voted unanimously against 200 proposed changes that would conform with French-language charter.

Some of the signs are only in English while others are bilingual but fail to be predominantly French as is required by law.

Municipal officials say the changes are too expensive.

In a situation as delicate as language, flexibility and diplomacy by government agencies are necessary, Charest said.

"When a situation like this comes up, we must be able to talk to each other to find reasonable solutions within a reasonable amount of time.''

Ultimately, however, the premier said the municipality must conform with the law.

"I'm not saying that it must be applied stupidly and unreasonably, but it must be respected.''

The Gazette
This isn't the first time the Quebec Censorship Boardtm has threatened Quebecers for ridiculous infractions. Every time it happens, the premier of the day says something like what Premier Charest said yesterday about how the law must be applied reasonably.

Yet none of the premiers consider that the problem could be resolved by (1) clarifying the law so petty bureaucrats can't inject their own interpretations into the laws, and (2) modifying the law so that it is more reasonable and we avoid situtaions where Quebec towns with "bilingual status" are forced to remove their bilingual signs.

And just because I can, here is a photo of Katharine McPhee in that yellow dress.


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