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Canadian boutique owner facing legal action for English-only Facebook posts

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In a situation seemingly prophesied by the 80s comedy Canadian Bacon, one Quebec boutique shop owner is facing legal action from her provincial government for not posting to the shop’s Facebook page in both English and French, according to a report from the CBC.

Eva Cooper, who owns the women’s boutique Delilah in Chelsea, Quebec, maintains that the store adheres to local laws that mandates promotional materials –– pamphlets, brochures, signs, etc. –– be in both English and French, and that she deals with customers with both languages.

However, Cooper’s Facebook page is the subject of one customer’s complaint, promoting local authorities to order posts to the social media site be translated in both languages or face legal action.

“I was a little bit in shock. I was a bit taken aback,” Cooper said. “It’s not like Ive ever not followed the law with my businesses on the Quebec side.”

Many English- and French-speaking customers have fallen in line to support Cooper, who said she has requested a copy of the letter from the government –– in English –– to learn more about the complaint before making any changes.

Supporters include the Quebec Community Groups Network, a Quebec English rights group, which believes that the law doesn’t apply to social media.

It’s a question of social media being such an unknown territory right now,” said Sylvia Martine LaForge, a spokesperson for the group, who charges that the province’s New York office runs an English-only Facebook page and could be subject to the law as well.

Julius Grey, a constitutional lawyer out of Montreal, said the law has a large blind spot when it comes to social media.

“It seems to me that when they talk about signs and so on, you’d have to then say social media are to be assimilated to signs and posters,” Grey said. “I don’t think they are.”

In the meantime, the publicity from Cooper’s case has caused a wave of support on her Facebook page, with “likes” tripling to 3,000 since the government order.

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