• John Jantak

English-language rights activist targets Costco Pointe-Claire for lack of bilingual signs


English-language rights activist Murray Levine holds a protest sign on St. Charles Boulevard in Kirkland on Tuesday, May 26. Levine is calling for the reinstatement of bilingual store signs in the Costco Pointe-Claire outlet and plans a one hour demonstration outside the Costco head office in Ottawa on Friday.

English-language rights activist Murray Levine is on a quest to get stores in the West Island to put up bilingual signs and his latest target is the Costco Pointe-Claire warehouse outlet on the Highway 40 service road between Sources and St. Jean Boulevards. Levine met with Your Local Journal on Tuesday morning, May 26, to discuss his initiative and motivation for trying to get Costco Pointe-Claire to reinstate bilingual store signs, which he says would show respect for its English customer base which makes up 50 per cent of the West Island’s total population.

“I’m going after Costco because they’re large and on the West Island,” said Levine. “This area is my focus. If they’re going to insult or show a lack of respect for the people who live here, it just doesn’t make sense to me.” The issue started about 18 months ago when after contacting Costco Pointe-Claire, Levine was told there were bilingual signs in the store.

Photographs taken in the store at the time showed French-only signage. Despite assurances from the store’s management that bilingual signs would be placed, Levine said the store never did. “They lied to us saying they would put up English signs. They never have,” he said. “They really don’t have a reason not to,” said Levine. “They’re talking like politicians, trying to satisfy people but they’re not. There’s no response. They can’t justify the fact. The law allows them to place bilingual signs and their immediate response should have been, as other retailers have said, that we’ll do a study on the demographics of the area and have signs based on those demographics.”

This Friday, Levine is planning a one-hour protest outside Costco’s corporate headquarters in Ottawa which has two regional outlets with bilingual signs inside their stores even though Francophones make up only 14 per cent of the region’s population, said Levine. “I hope to send a strong message that this is going to continue and we’re not going to go away,” he said.

An on-line petition supporting bilingual signs at Costco Pointe-Claire has already received about 1,100 signatures in the past three weeks, just 900 short of its 2,000 signature goal. “It’s great that people have signed the petition,” said Levine. “Unfortunately, only about 20 per cent of the people who go to the petition sign it. For whatever reason, people are scared to put their name down on paper and support their own rights.”

Levine appreciates the support he’s received from the public, but would like to see more individuals take up similar causes instead of asking him to highlight issues at other establishments. “I like it when people come along and say, “Why don’t you target this? Why don’t you target that?’ My reaction to them is, ‘Why don’t you do it? Why don’t you start it?’” he said. “When something will affect them, they’ll scream blue murder about how everybody should join them and fight,” Levine added. “But when something comes along to stand up for what is right, they don’t.”

So far, Levine’s activism has been successful in getting several major retailers and restaurants, mostly in Fairview Pointe-Claire, to put up bilingual signs at their establishments in recent years and he hopes that Costco will honour their commitment to treat all their customers with the same respect.

“I think that Costco will eventually see the light, hopefully soon.” A management official at Costco Pointe-Claire contacted by Your Local Journal on Tuesday afternoon declined to give his name or comment on the issue.

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