Cooper had been complying with the Quebecois law which states that the services in her store should be offered in both French and English. When the letter ordering her to translate the store’s Facebook page into French arrived, she had already translated all signs and other promotional material so that clients could have access to it in both languages. Cooper stated she never thought she was going against the law by offering an English-only page and she added that Article 52 of Bill 101 makes no specific reference regarding social media.
An Old Piece of Legislation
Michael Bergman, a lawyer specialised in constitutional and human rights issues, stated that the Quebecois government cannot regulate the languages used on Facebook because he judged that type of communication to be fleeting and free. According to him, social media does not qualify as traditional advertising, which is what the OQLF is stating when it forces Cooper to translate the page into French to comply with Article 52. Bergman added that the language charter is causing issues in the present because it was enacted before the social media boom, when the use of the Internet was not as pervasive as it is today.
Facebook as a Means for Advertising
On its part, the OQLF stated that Facebook cannot be solely considered an interactive dialogue between two parties, as Bergman stated himself. According to the Office, Facebook can easily be used for commercial and advertising purposes, in which cases both English and French are required.
The Charter of the French Language
The Charter of the French Language, generally known as Bill 101, makes French the official language of the Province of Quebec. The Charter was drawn with the aim of protecting the cultural heritage of the Franco-speaking sector of the Canadian population, which sees itself as a minority threatened by a larger English-speaking community. The opposition states that the Bill goes against civil liberties of English speakers, but the piece of legislation finds great support in Quebec.