Steyn is wrong

A rare, event , I know. I really like Mark Steyn and I usually agree with him. But this, is at least partially wrong:
The Language of Love [Mark Steyn]

Readers sometimes express skepticism about my tales of Quebec's "language police" - the pet shop owner fined for having an English-speaking parrot, etc. So here, from the Montreal Gazette, and as a reminder of the forensic intrusions of the regulatory state, is the tale of the unilingual anglophone sex aid that fell afoul of the bureaucrats:
Distribution Percour Inc., owner of Boutique Séduction in Montreal North, has been ordered by a Quebec Court judge to pay $500 for selling an item called Sleeve Super Stretch whose packaging was in English only.

The April 19 ruling came after a failed six-year effort by the Office québécois de la langue française to get the store to stick French labels on Sleeve Super Stretch boxes.

Acting on a citizen’s complaint, an OQLF inspector visited the store in 2004 and photographed the packaging of the sex-toy accessory worn by men.
"Acting on a citizen's complaint": There speaks the sexually liberated statist. "I went into a sex store and I was absolutely disgusted - by the English-speaking sex aids."

[...] Heaven forbid that a confused francophone should attempt to wear the product on his nose. Fortunately, prosecutors were able, with the use of public funds, to hunt down Quebec-compliant sex aids:

[...] As Pierre Trudeau assured Canadians, the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. Unless you're wearing a non-vibrating anglophone sex aid.
Just one problem with Steyn's complaint. The law that the province could be acting under is a little something a whole lot of American conservatives support: NAFTA. Ever wonder why almost every package you buy has English, Spanish, and French text on it? It's because that is what is required by NAFTA. The law was written to promote trans-border commerce, and to allow for a product produced in one of the three NAFTA countries to be easily sold in another.

Now, it is entirely possible that, in this case, the lack of French text on the package is being targeted because of the Francophonic bias and governmental overreach. But it is also true that the multi-lingual labeling is required by Canada's treaty obligations with the US and Mexico.


Anonymous said...

Um no. You're wrong wrong wrong. I don't know how you came up with this.

Quebec's language laws and the language police date from the 70's (wiki Bill 101)and they have absolutely nothing to do with NAFTA. Very little products up here have spanish on them either.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where you are getting your NAFTA language laws from but you are wrong. I am a wholesale distributor in Canada. I sell English only packaged product all the time except in Quebec. As soon as I am dealing with a retailer that has stores in Quebec I need to supply language "compliant" packaging and manuals. If the product is not "compliant" there are big fines involved for the retailer.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you're the one who's wrong, Saltzafrazz. Quebec language laws go back well before NAFTA was even a twinklng in Brian Mulroney's eye. You clearly know very little about Quebec or Canada.

bob k. mando said...

IF this were true, ALL packaging in the US would require tri-lingual text for the very same reason.

anybody seen any french language packaging lately?

Bueller? Bueller?

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Is it also worth pointing out that American conservatives are hardly in massive support of NAFTA?

For example when BSE cases were discovered in Alberta, powerful Republicans (mostly at the State level) were in favour of closing the border. Only one high profile Republican really spoke out in support of free trade (though he did sort of make the difference).