Language laws in Quebec have always been a somewhat contentious subject, but a recent news story had some people believing that the Montreal city government was “barking mad.”
The story, a radio interview from the show This is That with Montreal politician Benoit LaDouce, concerned a proposed new law in the city, which would require dog owners using city dog parks to train their dogs to respond to commands in both French and English.
In the interview, LaDouce defends his proposal, saying
“The current situation in Montreal dog parks in untenable chaos. Half the dogs are getting their commands in French, the others are getting their commands in English. And the various dog commands are incomprehensible to each other.”
LaDouce claimed came up with the law after an English-speaking dog got a little too friendly with him at a dog park, and refused to back off when ordered to do so in French.
As reported on The Province.com, the story was quickly picked up by other websites, including Yahoo! News, New York Magazine and Raw Story. There’s only one problem: it simply wasn’t true. This is That is the Canadian radio equivalent of The Onion, and Benoit LaDouce is not a real politician. New York Magazine and Raw Story updated to indicate that the story was satire, while Yahoo took their version down completely. Meanwhile, the story spread like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter.
In the aftermath, This is That released another interview with “LaDouce,” in which he claimed to have updated his proposal to instead make the dog parks “language free.”
“Thanks to the internet I have learned that dogs don’t respond to any language, rather tones and hand signals. My new bylaw will reflect that.”
The moral of this story? Just because it’s on the Internet, that doesn’t mean it’s true.