Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge of Bill 101 sign law but merchants not giving up

After 20 years, a group of Montreal-area merchants has lost its final court battle to challenge BIll 101 but they're not giving up just yet.

Back in 1998, 84 small businesses were fined for having signs and websites in English only or that didn't have French predominant.

Since then, the group has been whittled down to about a dozen merchants.

They fought and lost at various levels of court and today the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear them.

But their lawyer Brent Tyler said while they're disappointed,  they're not stopping here.

"Our people will never accept the idea that French must be twice the size of all other languages combined," said Tyler at a news conference.

Tyler said they're filing a second complaint with the United Nations.

The UN said after their first complaint that Quebec did violate treaty obligations but that the merchants would have to exhaust all legal options before any further steps.

The UN's declaration at the time prompted Quebec to amend the law.

Tyler said they're hoping that will happen again.

"They wouldn't have to but they would then face the disapproval of the league of civil societies," said Tyler.

Tyler said they're going to ask that their clients be given 90 days to pay the $500 fine and change their signage.

In the meantime, Tyler said this may open the floodgates for the province's language watchdog, the OLF.

"My greatest fear is that they've been held back by this case and that they will come at people with a vengeance we haven't seen since 1998."