Sugar Sammy Air Canada CEO unilingual Montreal Anglos

Um, actually Sugar Sammy is totally allowed to slam the language police

The bilingual comedian is catching heat over a controversial joke.

After it was reported on Monday morning that the Office Québécois de la langue française will be receiving an additional $5-million from the provincial government to enforce language laws in small and medium-sized businesses, Montreal stand-up star Sugar Sammy weighed in on the issue that had already sparked debate and complaints on social media.

Sugar Sammy on the potential impact of OQLF fines on small businesses

Today the totally reputable and classy local publication Journal de Montréal published an op ed about this joke by Sophie Durocher, who not only blows the comment way out of proportion — claiming that, based on this one sentence, Sugar Sammy a) doesn’t want to live in French in this province, or doesn’t want this to be a French province period, b) is only successful as a bilingual comedian BECAUSE of the types of language laws enforced by the OQLF, c) fails to realize that the Québécois are an oppressed minority fighting discrimination just like him (a comic of Indian heritage who also does shows in Punjabi and Hindi). She also denounced a local businessman who commented on Sugar Sammy’s tweet, agreeing with the criticism — in English! OMG. Wait, I read Durocher’s column in English because it was automatically translated. Is my browser conspiring against the Québécois too?

I won’t even bother commenting on the Québécois tendency of playing the victim when Cult MTL columnist Toula Drimonis has recently done so so thoroughly, but given that Sugar Sammy is a fully bilingual (multilingual) Bill 101 kid, he is perhaps better placed than most to criticize the government over their investment — an investment that is ironically meant to hire 50 new officers to hand out fines to retail shops and restaurants with under 50 employees, during a pandemic that has already crippled businesses. (For the record, I am totally for the enforcement of French signage and requiring bilingual service in businesses, but the investment and the targeting of small businesses right now — especially given the OQLF’s tendency to nit-pick and dole out outrageous fines — feels entirely inappropriate.)

Yes, there are tiresome anglo blowhards in the mainstream media and especially on social media — people who incessantly complain about the Quebec government’s efforts to promote French, who bemoan having to live in French, when they probably should have learned to speak, read and write in freakin’ French by now — but Sugar Sammy is clearly not one of them. He lives in French, performs (partly) in French, here and in France, and yes, he is allowed to criticize a government move that could bankrupt businesses, in the language of his choosing. ■

For more about Sugar Sammy, please visit his website.

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