[lg policy] Undercover investigation: Ottawa's ability to provide service in French

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 3 14:13:09 UTC 2011

Undercover investigation: Ottawa's ability to provide service in French

Updated: Tue Nov. 01 2011 3:58:04 PM


CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr went undercover to find out how well the
capital of Canada could provide services in both official languages.
According to Canada's Commissioner of Official Languages Ottawa
businesses don't fair too well. "I've found it's easier to get an
English menu in Barcelona than it is to get a French menu in Ottawa,"
said language commissioner Graham Fraser.

Fraser is particularly interested in how comfortable French-speaking
Canadians or tourists are with spending time in Ottawa. So CTV
Ottawa's investigative team scoured the city with a tiny camera hidden
inside a pen.
The team went into six restaurants requesting a French menu and none
of them could provide one.

Gatineau residents Michel and Micheline Brassard were not surprised by
the find. They say service in both languages should be a priority for
businesses. The team did find, however, that wherever they went there
was someone on staff who could understand French or if they couldn't
speak it, would try to find someone who could.

At one of the stops, a tourist from Lyon, France said this is a city
where you have to speak some English to get around. He was with a
friend from Montreal who was surprised to find Ottawa wasn't as
bilingual as he thought.
At Tucker's Marketplace, a restaurant located in the Byward Market,
the manager admits he sacrifices French for the more experienced
server when hiring his staff.

"If they're English-speaking only, unfortunately I want to have the
best servers possible," said Serge Morin.

Officials with Ottawa Tourism say they get some complaints about the issue.

"Occasionally we've had comments about French-language services," said
Jantine Van Kregten. "But not the number one issue we hear about."

One tourist told our team he is okay with the level of service he
received and that it is a good opportunity to practice his English.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com


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