March 1, 2013 12:08 pm
Updated: September 16, 2013 2:50 pm

Trouble brewing with Quebec language police for a Montreal ‘caffe’


MONTREAL – Another Montreal merchant is claiming the Quebec language police is harassing him.

The owner of a Mile End told Global News that he’s facing heavy fines unless he changes the name of his coffee shop.

As you walk into the Caffe in Gamba on Park Avenue, you might think you’re in a small village in Italy.

The smell of espresso is in the air, the signs on the wall almost all in Italian and everything here is green, white and red – except the owner.

A self-described “pure laine,” Jean-Francois Leduc loves his shop’s Italian flair, but The Office Quebecois de la langue francaise (OQLF) has had a problem with that for two years. They have sent Leduc warning letters, pushing him to change the name of his shop, replacing the “caffe” with the French version “café.”

“‘Caffe in Gamba’ is a registered business here in Montreal, and across Canada,” Leduc said Friday. “I do not think registered trademarks are illegal here.”

Leduc told the OLQF “no, grazie” (no, thank you) – and the government agency is now threatening to send him to court. A trip that could result in up to $4,000 in fines.

“It’s really disturbing, you think you’re the most wanted criminal on earth.”

What really bothers Leduc is that Caffe in Gamba is located right next door to an SAQ outlet that’s promoting Italian wine this week.

SAQ pasta fetivino advert 

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The provincial alcohol board is celebrating everything Italian with a “Festivino.” It’s even promoting wines that go well with – you guessed it – pasta.

Another area merchant, Louis Pagakis was also frustrated by what the perceived hypocrisy.

“The SAQ is government-owned, government-run, and they’re putting ‘pasta’ and ‘vino’ on their flyers, it’s unbelieveable!”

Yet another controversy is brewing at the Montreal municipal courthouse, where the English on bilingual signs was recently blocked off with black tape, following a complaint to the OQLF.

Even experienced lawyers called the move silly.

“We’re in 2013, we’re in a civilized society, and there are people being undemocratic.”

Former MNA Robert Libman noted that tensions are starting to heat up in Montreal’s English community at a conference put together by a new citizen’s rights group Thursday night that attracted 600 people.

“A meeting like we saw last night, I haven’t seen since we started the Equality Party 24 years ago,” he said.

Back on Park Avenue, Leduc says he’s ready to head to court: “I’m not going to give in!”

He said he’s ready to fight to keep his Italian cafe the way it is. 

Take a look at how social media reacted tp ‘pastagate’ as it unfolded here:


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