According to CTV News, the taxpayer-funded Quebec language office (OQLF) has received a dozen complaints about the name of the store, which opened only a few weeks ago.
According to Quebec's restrictive language laws, French must be twice the size of English on commercial signs -- unless the sign has a trademark, like McDonald's, Canadian Tire, or On the Run.
CTV reports that
[a]lthough the OLF can't take any legal action against Esso, it still plans to pressure the company to reconsider its decision. If Esso doesn't back down, the OLF says it will face a backlash from French consumers and that would be bad for business.I like the veiled threat. "Hey, if we can't fine you, and we can't convince you nicely, there will be a 'backlash'. Hey, we're not saying we're going to start the backlash. We've just giving some friendly advice. Capish?"
Maybe I'm being too harsh on the Quebec government funded language police. After all, OQLF spokesperson Gerald Paquette is quite reasonable when he says: "If you want to keep your English expressions, why not add a French version?"
This is, indeed, a pretty reasonable position. So, I challenge the OQLF to extend that same reasonableness in the other direction. When their language inspectors see a French-only commercial sign, it should say to the owner, "You can keep your French expression, but why not add an English one too?"