At Monday night’s Beaconsfield council meeting, the city passed a unanimous resolution saying it would not change existing street signs. However, new streets, or signs that must be replaced, will be unilingual French.Is there something in the water that is making some mayors lose their mind? Once again, let me repeat:
The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has asked in the past that Beaconsfield change street names like Maple and Elm to Érable and Orme. Benedetti said the city won’t do that and added that the only signs that it will change are the ones that need replacing.
Towns with bilingual status are permitted to post bilingual street signs.
According to the law, the French designation on the sign must be "predominant" -- but not "markedly predominant".
The missing word may seem trivial. But in law, every words counts. Therefore, a few points are clear:
(1) The Quebec government has set a legal precedent through its commercial sign law in which it associated the term "marked predominance" with the rule that French must be twice the size of English.
(2) The law on street signs does not include the word "marked".
(3) That omission suggests that the rule on street signs is less strict than the rule on commercial signs.
(4) Therefore, French "predominance" must mean something less than "twice as big" and it is entirely plausible that "predominance" means, simply, that the French must be on the left or on top -- but not twice as big.
This was confirmed by Cote St. Luc mayor (and lawyer) Anthony Housefather who said that bilingual street signs are:
"perfectly legal under Section 24 of the French Language Charter (Bill 101), which says that billingual municipalities can erect signs in both languages. The French being predominant in municipal signs is not the market predominance that [is required] in commercial signs where the French has to be bigger."It's sad that our laws are so confusing that only lawyers are able to figure out what's allowed and what's not and the rest of us are left scratching our heads and playing along with the bullies at the Quebec Censorship Board (tm).