New measures in business scene | Concerns in the Quebec business community

New measures in business scene |  Concerns in the Quebec business community

Representatives of the Quebec business community have condemned the government's move to protect the French language.


In an open letter to the Montreal Gazette, economic organizations – the Canadian Retail Council (CCCD), the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), the Quebec Hardware and Construction Materials Association, Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce Of Quebec – Legault has asked the government to reconsider its position on the matter.

According to them, actions on commercial signs in French are often difficult to make changes within two weeks. That's impossible to achieve in such a short time, maintains Michel Rochette, president of the CCCD's Quebec division and spokesperson for the correspondence committee.

“The government gave three years to implement the rules, which till date, has not yet been adopted,” the authors of the letter recalled.

If Bill 96 is finally passed in 2022, certain measures related to businesses, Mr. The “rules of the game,” as Rosette calls them, were only filed in January of this year. Their final version has not yet been accepted. So his observation is simple: “Until we have rules we can't make any changes”.

Photo by Robert Skinner, Law Press Archives

Michael Rosset

1 is the deadline for Quebec to comply with the new regulationsR June. As of this date, any indication of “on/off” on a button will be prohibited under the provisions of Law 96, “playing” any player and many other indications still subject to French rule, as they are not related to the safe use of a product. The logistical problem attached to the adaptation period is a real concern for the co-signatories of Saturday's open letter.

But the problem is big. Mr. According to Rochette, outdoor advertising can also become a logistical nightmare. “Quebec businesses have already completed a complete transformation, which was completed five years ago, in all of the businesses' exteriors,” Mr. Rosette thunders. There, the norms teach us that we have to go through a new stage of transition. Therefore, all changed symptoms should be re-adjusted within a shorter period of time. »

The head of the CCCD argues that the display is subject to restrictions set by municipalities and building owners. “Some cases can be complicated, if not impossible,” he notes.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Web?

Open letter signers have a great fear of the most innocuous gesture: the click. If consumers can no longer find the product they want at a local retailer, the temptation to turn to online commerce and buy what they need at non-Quebec sites is great. These sites do not have to respect the rules for posting in French.

“We reckon Quebecers will also unfortunately pay the price,” said Mr. Rosette laments. There is a risk that the French language will suffer because French will certainly not be better protected if Quebecers are brought to sites outside of Quebec that do not respect the same rules. »

Delivery capacity is one of the key aspects of this issue, stress the letter's signatories. Because if a product cannot comply with the rules established by the province, traders have no choice but to withdraw it from sale.

However, “in an increasingly internationalized, increasingly sprawling world, supply chains are highly interconnected with the entire planet and suppliers are almost everywhere in the world,” said Mr. Rosette points out. Sometimes, imposing restrictions without delay becomes a bit more complicated. »

The president of CCCT recalled what the industrial and economic realities of businesses, restaurants, etc. There is a risk that a large number of products will be withdrawn from sale, which will limit supply to local merchants. “Why should we limit ourselves to just one button? », exclaims Michel Rochet.

Shared fears

Quebec saw this as an opportunity to form partnerships with other suppliers, French-speaking or, more simply, open to adapting to the Quebec market.

“Quebec is an advanced society and an important and profitable market. If some companies do not want to do business in Quebec in order to avoid translating the notes on their products, if they refuse to speak French to Quebecers, we believe that their competitors will take advantage of these opportunities to the benefit of Quebecers. French Language Minister Jean- François Roberge in a press release at the end of February.

Photo by Patrick Sanfagon, La Presse Archives

Jean-François Roberge

The CCCD and its allies, however, are not as optimistic as the minister. And Washington's reaction to the future regulation of business signs in Quebec tends to prove business and entrepreneurial organizations right. The U.S. Trade Representative's office said concerns are emerging south of the border, mainly among small and medium-sized businesses, that adapting to the more demanding standards of French-speaking Quebecers is also a problem. Adaptability and, therefore, potential customer losses.

“For the past year and a half, we have been contacted every day with questions, especially from small and medium-sized businesses. […] We are faced with a lot of understanding, honesty and surprise regarding the criteria that seem to be most demanding of them,” Elian Elbogen, a lawyer in intellectual property law at Fascon in Montreal, told The Canadian Press last January.

With similar concerns, the signatories of Saturday's letter call on the government to review the details of its bill with businesses and organizations representing businesses to better take into account the impact of the measures and “protect economic health.” [des] The well-being of businesses and Quebecers.”

On February 24, the CCCD presented a brief to Quebec that has yet to receive comments. “There's not much we can do except keep in touch,” says Michael Rochet.

On March 22 Mr. The ministry appeared to be open to dialogue since Roberge promised at a press scrum that he would take comments on the bill into account. Currently available. He qualified his comments by insisting that “Quebecers must be greeted in French, served in French, have products labeled in French, so that we understand what we are buying and know what is in it.” products. » “I think it's non-negotiable,” he insisted.

The French language ministry did not respond to our requests for comment.

With Stephen Rowland, The Canadian Press

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