Speak French. It’s the Law! Or is it?

Speak French. It’s the Law! Or is it?

Quebec City (Quebec) 10 March 2015 – An Anglophone citizen living in Quebec City, Douglas Kitson was apparently told by a police officer that he should address her in French because it was the law.

Mr. Kitson, who hails originally from Australia, was stopped by police for a jay-walking infraction when he responded in English to the officer who was confronting him. The officer at first responded in proper English but, followed up with the remark that because we are in Québec that he should speak French.

At that point Mr. Kitson asked if he truly had to speak French, and asked if it was the law. The officer promptly responded by saying in French “yes it is the law”. (Oui c’est la loi.)

What happened to Mr. Kitson afterwards we dont’ know but, the issue came up with the police department and the spokesman for the police force M. François Moisan, confirmed that if a person could not explain himself in French that there was no law that would force him to do so. As a matter of fact, there is no law that obliges anyone to respond to a police officer in French as there is no law forcing a police officer to use English if the person cannot speak French. The conversation is usually worked out between the two parties if and when one of the police officers can speak enough English to explain the intervention.

M. Kitson is able to speak French, and the conversation rolled on in that language but, the point being brought up is the fact that he was told he had to speak French because it is the law, when in reality it isn’t.

There is no requirement for a police officer to speak English in the city of Quebec even though the city hosts numerous tourists from around the world.

Mr. Kitson doesn’t want to restart the language debate; he just wants the matter to be clear for everyone concerning a confrontation when confronted by police officers in the city.
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