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English Retail Sites Block Access from Quebec (self-censorship?)

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This is a bit bizarre. English language online retailers are blocking access from customers in Quebec. This isn't the ISP blocking, and it isn't the government forcing ISPs to block access, and it isn't some kind of a router-level blocking -- it's the retailers themselves blocking access due to language laws.

Either under pressure from Quebec’s language watchdog or on their own initiative, numerous English-only retail websites have blocked access to shoppers from Quebec, several Montreal news sources report.

CJAD radio reports that Williams-Sonoma, the upscale kitchen supplies retailer, is telling customers they have blocked access to their website because it runs afoul of Quebec’s language law.

The retailer reportedly told a customer the company ships to 87 different countries and “this is the first time we've ever had any problems.”

Williams-Sonoma owns a number of other retailers, including West Elm, Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids, and all these sites are being blocked in Quebec at the moment, according to the Montreal Gazette.
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Talk about chilling effects meeting the Twilight Zone.

I don't know if I fully understand the issues, but the article indicates that under Quebec law the retailers who have a physical presence in Quebec must have a French-accessible website (or no website) in Quebec.

These retailers either haven't gotten around to doing that or have decided they don't want to spend the money to do it.  Sounds more like laziness than anything else to me. Maybe there's more to it?

Quebec will eventually realize that you can't wall the world out. You can only wall yourself in.

Sounds more like laziness than anything else to me.
-mwb1100 (November 13, 2014, 05:32 PM)
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Sounds more like these companies don't want to get dragged into Canada's political/social pissing match. They just want to do business. And these companies aren't setting any conditions on that. Quebec is.

Quebec's official language is French. Businesses are allowed to use other languages so long as French is prominent and given preferential treatment. Displaying a sign? French must be displayed first and in a larger font. Other languages may appear below in a smaller font. Setting up a voice menu for your customers? French first. Setting up your voicemail message for when you are out of the office? French first.

It's not only the government responsible for this, but the majority of the citizens are supportive of this initiative. There's no laziness here. It's all about the bottom line. There's added expense just to access a limited demographic.

I'm sure Quebec is too busy planning it's next secession initiative to notice anyway.


It's not only the government responsible for this, but the majority of the citizens are supportive of this initiative.
-Innuendo (November 14, 2014, 07:36 AM)
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Unfortunately, the whole 'language thing' sometimes borders on the linguistic equivalent of 'ethnic cleansing' in Quebec. As it often does in France. And while many are in favor of the "French First" rule, far fewer support some of the bullying tactics and rhetoric currently being employed.

(I've been following this issue with half-hearted interest because my mother's family is Québécois on her mother's side. From where I'm sitting, it's more of the same old same old (i.e. "Je Me Souviens!") that's been going on forever.  The only real difference is the Internet's almost magical ability to turn nearly any political dispute in to a full fledged conflagration. So it goes...)


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