'Pastagate' prompts review at Quebec language office

Last night the co-owner of the restaurant at the centre of Pastagate tweeted the government's language watchdog had closed his file.

Language watchdog backs down on "pasta" complaint

Co-owner of Buonanotte, Massimo Lecas, says Quebec's language office has closed the file targeting his restaurant's use of words like "pasta." (Radio-Canada)

After last week's so-called Pastagate uproar over the use of languages other than French on restaurant menus and signs, Quebec's language police are backing down on a complaint against a Montreal Italian restaurant.

The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) came under fire last week for cracking down on Buonanotte for the prominence of Italian words including "pasta" on its menu.

But on Monday, the office responded to the public outcry, saying it would launch an internal review.

Click here to listen to CBC Daybreak: Could 'Pastagate' change practices at Quebec's language watchdog?

Last night, co-owner of Buonanotte, Massimo Lecas, tweeted a photo of a letter he received from the OQLF, which stated the office's intervention had come to a close. Earlier last week, the language watchdog admitted officials may have taken the law too far. 

Lecas told CBC this morning that he received the letter via fax on Monday night from the OQLF, about 10 minutes after Radio-Canada , the CBC's French language service, aired a report on his story.

Lecas explained that in that interview, he mentioned the French-language office had yet to contact him since the story went viral.

He said about 10 minutes after the 6:30 p.m. newcast, he received a fax from the OQLF.

Last night the co-owner of the restaurant at the centre of Pastagate, Massimo Lecas, tweeted a picture of the letter he received from Quebec's French language office. (Massimo Lecas/Twitter)

Diane De Courcy, the minister responsible for Quebec's French-language charter, said the office would be taking a closer look how the government handles complaints about language-law violations.

"Unfortunately, the results of certain inquiries have lent themselves, with reason, to very severe criticism," she said in a statement.

De Courcy said her department will act quickly to see how complaints can be dealt with "without creating initial irritants."

Negative press could scare off investors

According to a media-analysis company, the Pastagate story received 60 times more news coverage outside of the province than Premier Pauline Marois's recent trip to New York, which focused on drawing foreign investment to Quebec.

'We're not proud of Quebec right now.'—Jean-François Dumas, Influence Communications

Research compiled by Influence Communication found the Pastagate controversy was chronicled in 350 articles across 14 different countries, as far away as Australia.

Jean-François Dumas, president of Influence Communications, said the latest Quebec headline is the most recent in a number of negative press stories coming out of Quebec.

He said it's been a humbling few months for the province, with student protests, the corruption inquiry and the Luka Rocco Magnotta graphic homicide case.

"We're not proud of Quebec right now," he said.

While Dumas said the coverage probably wouldn't scare off investors, the chief economist for the Laurentian Bank said if trends continue investors might start looking elsewhere.

"If there are several news [stories] like that, then it might start to colour some business decisions," said Carlos Leitao.

With files from the Canadian Press