Quebec's Premier weighs in on Facebook page controversy
Published Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:22PM EST Last Updated Thursday, February 27, 2014 5:37PM EST
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois made her first visit to Gatineau today since winning the election and found herself in the middle of an old controversy. Marois came to make spending announcements but ended up defending Quebec language police who say a small business owner in Chelsea is breaking the law.
Eva Cooper just wanted to sell women's clothes and accessories at her Chealsea boutique “Delilah in the Parc” and used social media to help promote her stores in Ottawa and the Outaouais. Instead, Cooper found herself in contravention of Quebec's language laws over her mostly English-only Facebook page.
“I was quite shocked,” says Cooper.
Someone complained about her website to the Office Quebecois de la langue francaise. Last week, they ordered her to translate the page or risk legal action.
“I plan on getting more answers and bringing attention to the issue,” says Cooper. “There are many businesses in West Quebec and Outaouais with Facebook pages that post in English.”
But the Office of the Langue Francaise says the law is clear on this issue even as it pertains to social media.
Jean-Pierre Le Blanc speaks for the Office de la Langue Francaise,”When you offer a product or service on Facebook or on your website it goes under Charter de la langue francaise and then you have to offer that service in French.”
Quebec's Premier, on her first visit to the Outaouais since she was elected in 2012, had no idea she'd walked into this issue.
"No, I don't have any information about this situation,” Marois said at a news conference at the Gatineau Hospital.
Marois was here in West Quebec truly, on a motherhood issue; a $14.4 million dollar announcement for a new obstetrical centre at the Gatineau Hospital. Hours later, at a news conference on a new multi-use centre for Gatineau, she was again asked about the controversy and this time she was ready with an answer.
"They have to respect the law,” says Marois, “I don't know if the law is applied on this kind of situation but I will ask my minister about this situation.”
Eva Cooper's customers have this message for the language police.
“I would say back off,” says customer Maureen Coates, “It’s not worth it.”
Cooper says hits to her Facebook page have doubled since CTV Ottawa aired her story yesterday. She has had a lot of support, she says, including legal advice.
Cooper has until March 10th to respond to the notice or face a fine.