QUEBEC - The Quebec government has the right to control commercial Web sites on the Internet because the province's jurisdiction over consumer protection and advertising takes precedence over Ottawa's jurisdiction in telecommunications, Language Minister Louise Beaudoin said yesterday.
"There has been a judgment of the Supreme Court on (television) advertising for children, and the jurisdiction of Quebec over commercial advertising was recognized at that time."
In fact, if it is left up to the federal government and Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, there won't be any French on the Internet, she added.
"It is clear that Quebecers cannot leave it up to Madame Copps to defend their right to receive information in French, that doesn't surprise me. But if Madame Copps now wants to prevent us from defending French in Quebec, she will find us standing in her way."
Beaudoin's press conference yesterday comes a day after Copps said the Office de la Langue Française is exceeding its jurisdiction by applying Bill 101 to the Internet because telecommunication is a federal responsibility.
The exchange between Copps and Beaudoin comes in the wake of the revelation that language inspectors have begun patrolling the Internet, looking for commercial Web sites from Quebec-based companies that don't conform with Bill 101.
Morty Grauer, owner of the Pointe Claire computer store Micro-Bytes Logiciels, received a warning letter from OLF in late May, advising him that his company's home page violated the language law. Grauer initially removed most of his home page from the Internet after receiving the warning but has since reinstated it after receiving dozens of E-mail messages of support.
He now plans to translate his company's home page in coming days.