Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Washington is concerned about the potential repercussions of the Quebec government's draft regulation on commercial signage in French.

Le Bloc leader writes to the American Secretary of State

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The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet (left), sent a letter to the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken (right), to defend the new rules on signage in French proposed by the Quebec government .

  • Louis Blouin (View profile)Louis Blouin

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The Bloc leader launches a diplomatic and linguistic offensive. Yves-François Blanchet sent a letter, written in French, to American Secretary of State Antony Blinken to defend the changes proposed by Quebec on commercial signage in the province.

The Bloc leader delivered his missive to the American ambassador Tuesday evening during a reception at the latter's official residence in Ottawa. In the letter, of which Radio-Canada obtained a copy, Yves-François Blanchet defends the need for Quebec to tighten its rules on commercial signage.

Quebec, the only French jurisdiction in North America, has a duty with regard to the sustainability of French on the continent.

A quote from Extract from the letter from Yves-François Blanchet

Yves-François Blanchet took care to write his correspondence in the language of Molière, which he mastered remarkably Secretary Blinken, he emphasizes.

The Bloc leader says he wants to allay any concerns that might be felt by American companies doing business in Quebec.

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He also proposes to meet personally with representatives of the American government to present the content, relevance and legitimacy of the legislative and regulatory interventions which aim to ensure the dynamism of the French language in Quebec.

The leader of the Bloc Québécois has also planned a trip to Washington at the beginning of March.

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The leader of the Bloc Québécois delivered his letter in person to the American ambassador to Canada during a reception at his official residence in Ottawa.

The Biden administration recently expressed concerns about Quebec's proposed regulations on commercial signage in the province under its Bill 14 – better known as the name of bill 96.

The proposed regulation stipulates that businesses with storefronts in Quebec have until June 1, 2025 for French to occupy twice as much space on their storefronts.

Overall, French must be clearly predominant, explained the Quebec Minister of the French Language, Jean-François Roberge, at the beginning of the month of January.

Washington flagged its concerns last week during a meeting between officials from the two countries. In a statement, the Office of the United States Trade Representative expressed concern about the provisions of Act 96 on commercial signage and their potential consequences for American businesses, including small and medium-sized businesses.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">In response, Yves-François Blanchet defends the legitimacy of the changes proposed by Quebec.

Where the working or everyday language is not English elsewhere in the world, American companies wishing to do business there adopt the language of display and work, French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, these territories, approached first as markets. We believe that it must be the same in Quebec, we can read in the correspondence.

The Bloc leader emphasizes that Quebec can only express itself in its own name and that the Canadian government is generally resistant to Quebec language laws.

The American administration has not specified in detail the nature of its concerns.

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Several multinationals established in the province could be affected by the new regulations proposed by Quebec.

The Quebec government estimates that the cost of complying with the new regulations will range from $7 to $15 million for all affected businesses on the Quebec territory.

However, members of the business community estimate that the bill could be much higher if we consider the costs of a commercial brand. Several large American multinationals such as Best Buy and Walmart are present in Quebec.

Called to react to these concerns, the Quebec Minister of the French Language, Jean-François Roberge, responded last week that French will always be vulnerable in Quebec and that intervention was necessary.

The draft regulation is subject to consultations until the end of February.

Tuesday evening, the United States Embassy in Ottawa did not want to comment on the letter from the Bloc leader and referred us to the statement from the Office of the American Trade Representative last week.

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