'I don't see the importance of bilingual signs': Legault on Lachute hospital controversy

Premier François Legault had a terse response to the controversy over bilingual signs at the Lachute hospital — basically, the law is the law.

"I think that we have to follow the law," Legault said at the tail end of a Montreal news conference on Thursday. "They weren't respecting the law. Bill 101 has to be respected. That's what we'll do."

A group of nine mayors in the Lachute area called on the Legault government to step in and put an end to what they called an unnecessary language controversy, which began with a complaint filed with the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).

The group, consisting of both francophones and anglophones, insisted their communities were free of language troubles.

"A lot of Quebec could learn from our region. We don't have these language debates. We get along great. We love each other, we do things together, we work together," Scott Pearce, the mayor of the nearby town of Gore, said. "Maybe that problem exists elsewhere, but it doesn't exist here, so don't bring your problems here is how we look at it."

Legault, meanwhile insisted that while services would continue to be offered to anglophones at the hospital, "I don't see the importance of bilingual signs."

Under the terms of Bill 101, hospitals that don't offer services primarily in English can't post signs in English, even if they're half the size of the corresponding French wording — as was the case in Lachute.

Last month, officials at the local regional health authority began covering up or removing signs reading 'emergency', 'parking' and 'main entrance', among others, at the OQLF's request.

Many of the signs had been up for more than two decades, without controversy.

-With files from the Canadian Press