Pictograms on highway signs = safety

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A year ago on March 14, 2017, a petition we spearheaded was tabled in the Québec National Assembly by David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee (Montréal).

A year ago on March 14, 2017, a petition we spearheaded was tabled in the Québec National Assembly by David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee (Montréal). Just short of 7,000 signatures, it requested that the Ministère des Transports du Quebec (MTQ) and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications (MCC) ensure all traffic signs and electronic alerts or messages dealing with public safety or health be in both French and English, when no symbol or pictogram exists.
The second paragraph of Section 22 of the Charter of the French Language clearly states: “In the case of traffic signs, the French inscription may be complemented or replaced by symbols or pictographs, and another language may be used where no symbol or pictograph exists that satisfies the requirements of health or public safety.”
Traffic signage, as well as electronic alerts or messages, such as “Respectez les feux de voies”, “Risque d’acquaplanage”, “Allumez vos phares” and “Ralentir” deal solely with public safety–everyone’s safety–regardless of language, so why are the MTQ and MCC continuing to abstain from applying Section 22?
Since the petition was tabled, there hasn’t been a single change with public safety on highway signage on the Island of Montréal, and we highly doubt any changes have taken place elsewhere. Where there is no pictogram, every single highway sign dealing with safety is still only in French and there has been no increase in pictograms.
It’s evident that the MTQ, MCC and Couillard Government are more than happy to see the least amount of English possible. So if that is the case, and if pictograms are feasible, let’s see those unilingual French safety signs converted into pictograms. If not, then the Québec Liberal Party should make the responsible and bold move and implement bilingual highway signage when it is a matter
of safety. What are they waiting for? Is there really a belief that English signage will threaten the French language? As Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, said, “Defending the French language does not mean refusing to speak other languages.”
On many highways in Ontario, signage–whether for safety or information purposes–is in both English and French. It is very sad that
in Québec protecting the French language, when
it no longer needs protection, still trumps safety. What a shame!

Harold Staviss and Ruth Kovac
Québec