Chinese-only language Crest bus stop advertisement in Richmond causes controversy

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Should Chinese-only language advertisements be allowed in the city streets of a Canadian city?

This is a debate that has been brewing in Richmond over the last few years, in a city where 57 per cent of its resident were born outside of Canada and one in ten do not speak English.

According to the Richmond Review, some residents are taking issue with transit advertisements that feature Crest toothpaste products in exclusively Chinese. While a campaign with Chinese-only language advertisements in Richmond likely made marketing strategy sense for Proctor and Gamble, it does not sit well for those who believe it should consist of some English as well as it is one of the country’s two official languages.

Last year, a group of residents submitted a petition with 1,000 signatures to Richmond City Council that requested them to implement a bylaw that would require a minimum amount of English on any commercial advertisement or building signage.

City Council voted against the motion to follow up on the petition and would instead focus on educating businesses. The charter only requires levels of government to provide English and French language text options – not individuals, private citizens or private property given that it is considered as a form of freedom of expression.

 

Of course, this differs in Quebec where strict provincial language laws require businesses to adopt French-only signage. Most recently, language watchdogs even campaigned to have companies with English names to abide to the province’s laws by adopting a French name. A Quebec judge ruled against this, but had it passed it would have affected companies like Best Buy, Gap, Costco, Guess, Old Navy and Walmart.

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