Chez Geeks board-game store gets OQLF complaint

The latest business to receive a letter from the Office québécois de la langue française says it's nearly impossible for it to comply to the stringent language laws encapsulated by the province's Bill 101.

Co-owner Giancarlo Caltabiano says Bill 101 makes it nearly impossible to run board-game store

Giancarlo Caltabiano thinks several articles in Bill 101 make it nearly impossible to operate a board-game shop in Quebec. (Submitted by Giancarlo Caltabiano)

The latest business to receive a letter from Quebec's language watchdog says it's nearly impossible for it to comply to the stringent language laws encapsulated by the province's Bill 101.

Chez Geeks has been selling board games on St-Denis Street in Montreal for just over four years.

In that time, co-owner Giancarlo Caltabiano says he's received three letters from the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) about different facets of his business activities, namely using English-only advertising, serving clients in English and having an English-only website.

Listen to the CBC Homerun interview with Giancarlo Caltabiano here

Chez Geeks, a board game store, has caught the attention of the Office québécois de la langue française. The board games are mostly English, which causes problems for Chez Geeks website and publicity. Homerun's Sue Smith talked to Giancarlo Caltabiano of

In his defence, Caltabiano told CBC Homerun host Sue Smith on Friday that many of the games he carries are produced in countries outside of Canada.

Forgotten King, for example, is made in the U.S. and has no French equivalent. The flyers to advertise a game like this are in English only.

He said when he called the OQLF to get an explanation for the most recent letter, he was told that Chez Geeks was technically breaking the law — Art. 54 of Bill 101 in particular, which stipulates:

"Toys and games, except those referred to in section 52.1, which require the use of a non-French vocabulary for their operation are prohibited on the Québec market, unless a French version of the toy or game is available on the Québec market on no less favourable terms."

The OQLF confirmed to CBC News that it sent Caltabiano three letters, but says it would not comment on this case for confidentiality reasons.

Caltabiano said he hasn't been fined yet, but wouldn't put it past the OQLF to send him a ticket in the mail.

He said he wants to challenge some of the articles in Bill 101 that make it difficult for sellers of games and toys to operate in the province.

As for the other two items of contention, Caltabiano said he is looking at getting his website translated into French but said that the language of service complaint is ill-founded.

"That one really, really bugged me because I make sure myself and all my employees speak in French first," he said.


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