Head of Quebec language office resigns in wake of Pastagate

Louise Marchand, the head of Quebec's language watchdog agency, has resigned following some controversial enforcement of the province's language laws.
Louise Marchand will leave her post as head of Quebec's French Language Office. (CBC)

Quebec's French Language Minister Diane De Courcy has announced the resignation of Louise Marchand, the head of Quebec's Office of French Language, or the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).

The province's deputy language minister, Jacques Beauchemin, will replace Marchand as interim director general.

The announcement follows the recent so-called "Pastagate" controversy that erupted when an overzealous language inspector told a Montreal Italian restaurant that words such as botiglia, pasta and antipasto on its menu should have a French translation written next to them.

In response to public outcry, the OQLF backed down on its complaint against restaurant Buonanotte and announced it would conduct an internal review.

The results of that review were announced today, along with Marchand's departure.

De Courcy said she wants to "modernize" the language office and its interaction with businesses in the province.

She said the review took into consideration the criticism over recent language crackdowns.

"These incidents had effects that were not desirable for businesses, for Office staff, for the population and for Quebec in general," she said.

OQLF recommendations:

  • Treat businesses that are the subject of a possible infraction like clients engaged in the process of complying with the language charter.
  • Communicate with businesses before visiting them.
  • Inform each business and explain the steps of the process for dealing with complaints.
  • Establish guidelines based on concrete criteria to help establish a corrective plan for businesses and allow the necessary time for the plan to be implemented.
  • Design an official format and standard for corrective plans, which would be shared with businesses.
  • Keep businesses informed on the state of their file.