'Shawville posse' language incident goes to court

A West Quebec woman appeared in court Thursday, charged with refusing to cooperate with an agent of the Office qubcois de la langue franaise.

A West Quebec woman appeared in court Thursday, charged with refusing to cooperate with an agent of the Office qubcois de la langue franaise.

In 1999, Lynn Wilson's business in Shawville was visited by agent Lucie Couvrette from the language office, who began taking photographs.

Couvrette's presence angered some locals, who followed her out of town. The group was jokingly dubbed the "Shawville posse" by people in the area.

While Shawville residents said they felt harassed by snooping inspectors, the Office qubcois de la langue franaise said the townspeople were flouting the province's French-first laws.

Lynn Wilson says she had nothing to do with chasing language agent Couvrette out of town, and that she was charged with refusing to cooperate just because the agency is sore about the "Shawville posse" incident.

"Had I been asked to give a document I would have given it, but there was never a point in our conversation when she requested any specific document," said Wilson.

"These charges are bogus from A to Z," said Wilson's lawyer Brent Tyler. He says he has proved that the language police already had all the information about Wilson that they are empowered to collect.

"It does say a lot about the way the language police enforce the law," Tyler said. "They're used to being bullies. They're like rats in a cellar. You have to shine a light on them and then they scurry away," said Tyler.

Wilson, who owns the local franchise of H&R Block, says she will refuse to pay any fine handed down by the court.

In the past, Quebec government bailiffs have seized and sold property from people who refused to pay language fines.