Here’s the first rant
In the summer of 1997, Netsurfer Digest (issue 3.26) published this article, written by yours truly:
THAT WACKY QUEBECOIS GOVERNMENT
If you’re like the average American, you have but dim knowledge of the language debate in Canada’s province of Quebec. While the ruling separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) shuts hospitals and passes tax burdens on to municipalities, it has a spare $5 million to feed their Office de la Langue Francaise (OLF), an agency that fines citizens who display signs not merely in English only, but also bilingual signs with English lettering more than half as tall as the French lettering. Why mention this? Another brilliant PQ idea is mandatory French on commercial Web pages. This charter was toned down severely after criticism, but even in its present state, we’ll let it speak for itself. May the Net recognize all censorship as damage and route around it. One cute OLF page provides French translations of standard Net terms. See you in a bavardoir and beware les bidouilleurs.
Net terms: http://www.olf.gouv.qc.ca/service/pages/internet2.html
That article brought in more reader mail than any article we ever published – probably because of this open letter. I loved reading and answering the letters to the editor (who was me), and the e-mail this article generated was no exception. You can read it here (thanks to the Internet Archive). The main thrust of the responses was that the Charter was meant to apply to commercial speech only – although by law there is no difference between commercial and citizen speech as far as I know. (I’m not getting paid to look that up anymore.)
A few weeks ago, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, Saku Koivu, introduced his team before a home game at the Bell Centre. Koivu speaks little if any French and spoke only English for the announcement. Well, the anti-English faction in our province went to town.
The Finnish-born Koivu has possibly contributed more to Montreal than any athlete, ever, but the anti-English fringe, led by members of the press, perversely continue to assail him.
What the heck?
This city is a great place to live, but it does have its problems. Streets and overpasses fall apart. And people have the temerity to shout from the rooftops over three seconds of English?
What. The. Heck?
Keep at it, my pure-wool friends. How much lower can you sink the Parti Quebecois in the polls?
(Note: This rant is in no way addressed to the sensible vast majority of Quebec – but, I must admit, it’s a good idea to keep me away from poking sticks.)
Bonus Montreal stuff for “Heroes” watchers:
The address in the show, 121 St. Jacques, does not exist and if it did, it would probably be a bank, not a warehouse. The old headquarters of the Bank of Montreal at 119 St. Jacques is a classical building nearly 200 years old. The next highest address is 129 St. Jacques, which is the new(er) headquarters of the same bank.
Kudos to the production crew for getting the neighbourhood somewhat correct. In the external shots before Peter entered the building, you could see the Notre Dame Basilica in a shot that strongly resembles this perspective. St. Jacques, though, is the cross street at the top of the crest – turn right at the light (not on red!) to get to the banks. You can see a Google Maps rendition of the area here. The domed bank, the church, and Place d’Armes between them are easy to pick out.