The Language Law and the Language Regulations.
What common usage calls “Bill 101” is actually an amended version of the original Bill 101 that was passed in 1977. The most recent amendments were made in 1993. Parts of the original Bill 101 were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in December, 1988. The Quebec government then immediatey invoked the “notwthstanding clause” of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to re-enact a protected version of the original law, which was called Bill 178. After the UN Committee on Human Rights decided in 1993 that parts of Bill 178 violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Quebec government amended Bill 178 and called the amended law Bill 86. Relevant parts of the current version of the law are excerpted here, along with the regulations that interpret the general meaning of the law. You should realize that the regulations were not part of the law. Instead, they were created by the government (effectively, the cabinet), not the legislature, and can be changed at any time by the cabinet. The entire law, and all of the relevant regulations, are appended after the most important extracts.
Language of commercial advertising:
Signs and posters.
58. Public signs and posters and commercial advertising must be in French.
Signs and posters.
They may also be both in French and in another language provided that French is markedly predominant.
Signs and posters.
However, the Government may determine, by regulation, the places, cases, conditions or circumstances where public signs and posters and commercial advertising must be in French only, where French need not be predominant or where such signs, posters and advertising may be in another language only.
III. Public signage and commercial publicity:
15. Commercial publicity of an enterprise presented on advertising billboards, on posters, or on any other surface with an area of sixteen meters square or more and visible from any public road…must be written only in French, unless the publicity is actually on the premises of sthe enterprise.
16. Commercial publicity of an enterprise must be written entirely in French on or in any method of public transit and its stations, including bus shelters.
Other articles specify in detail when and where other languages can be used; for example during a convention or cultural event mainly for people from outside Quebec, on vehicles moving in and out of Quebec, etc. etc.
Regulations explaining the meaning of the expression “Clearly Predominant” as used in the Charter of the French Language
1. In Government publicity, public notices and commercial publicity written both in French and in another language, French is considered to be clearly predominant when the French text has a visual impact much more important that the text written in another language.
2. When text written both in French and in another language are on the same sign, the French text is considered to have a visual impact that is much more important than the other language if the following conditions jointly occur:
When the French text and the text in another language are on different signs of the same size, the French text is considered to have a much more important visual impact if all of the following conditions are met:
1. The signs with French text are at least as numerous as the signs in another language;
2. The French signs are at least twice as big as the signs in another language;
3. The letters used to write the French text are at least twice as big as the letters used to write the other language;
4. The distance between the signs and their distribution does not reduce the impact of the French text;
5. Other characteristics of the signs do not have the effect of reducing the impact of the French text.
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