Hud­son mer­chant war­ned to­watch it­with English-on­ly­web­site

‘Lit­tle guy’ stan­ding up to O.L.F

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Dar­ryl A. Les­ser says his is a “one man ope­ra­tion” that is not going to give in to de­mands from the Of­fice de la langue fran­çaise to change wor­ding on his web­site fromEn­glish to French.

The ful­ly bi­lin­gual re­sident who’s li­ved in Hud­son for the past 10 years says res­pec­ting Que­bec’s French lan­guage and culture has no­thing to do with his re­fu­sal.

“I love our pro­vince,” Les­ser said. “I’m fluent in French and English and my wife and son speak four lan­guages.” But, adds Les­ser, a watch­ma­ker and res­to­rer, “I’m a lit­tle guy stan­ding up for his rights.”

Les­ser and his bu­si­ness came to theO.L.F’s at­ten­tion last month af­ter the pro­vin­cial lan­guage po­lice re­cei­ved a com­plaint about his web ba­sed watch re­pair bu­si­ness.

Les­ser says he’s ope­ra­ted from his home of­fice for the past 12 years.

He does not have cus­to­mers fromQue­bec, nor does he have a store, as all of his work comes via the in­ter­net.

“My clients are from En­gland, the States, Aus­tra­lia, Nor­way, places like that,” he said, ad­ding he’s sold just one watch wi­thin Que­bec in the last five years and none at all in the past year.

“I do not ad­ver­tise in news­pa­pers, I don’t send flyers or pam­phlets and I don’t do trade shows here or anyw­here else,” he no­ted.

Let­ter de­man­ded change

Les­ser says he re­cei­ved a let­ter on Jan. 27 from the O.L.F. de­man­ding that he change all of his web­page content to French “or else.”

“If I did that, can you ima­gine what guy from Texas would do if he cli­cked on my web­site and found it all in French?”

The heart of his ar­gu­ment, says Les­ser, is that the pro­vin­cial agen­cy char­ged with pro­tec­ting French in Que­bec “does not control the world­wi­de­web.”

Les­ser says he’s been in touch with the O.L.F., who in­di­ca­ted they may be willing to give him a break.

“I told them less than 1 percent of my an­nual sales were from Ca­na­da and that I had not sold any­thing in Que­bec in the past year.”

If he can prove that, theO.L.F. may let the is­sue drop, he no­ted. If not, he says he’s mad en­ough to take his bu­si­ness and his taxes and go el­sew­here.

“Do I lose ex­po­sure to th­ree bil­lion (web) cus­to­mers by gi­ving in to them...They are threa­te­ning my li­ve­li­hood.”

Les­ser says he has un­til the end of the month to com­ply with the O.L.F., though he says he’s been in touch with the agen­cy which may ex­cept him from the ru­ling if he can prove he does not have sales wi­thin Que­bec.

Les­ser is pre­pa­red to show the O.L.F his sales re­ceipts as long as he can block out his clients’ names and ad­dresses.

He said he ex­pects to meet­with the O.L.F next month.

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