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Pastagate is the informal name of an incident that began in 2013 in Quebec, when, on 14 February, an inspector of the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) sent a letter of warning to upscale Montreal restaurant Buonanotte, for using Italian words such as pasta, antipasti and calamari on its menu instead of their French equivalents. The incident occurred as the National Assembly was debating Bill 14, a bill to toughen the province's Charter of the French Language.

Instead of complying with instructions on the letter he received from the OQLF, the owner of Buonanotte went public, and it generated a widespread public outcry across the province, even among francophones, about the OQLF abusing its powers. The incident also received international attention in newspapers, causing embarrassment to the provincial government.[1] The incident led to the resignation of Louise Marchand, head of the OQLF, on 8 March.[2]


Dan Delmar of radio station CJAD in Montreal first broke the story on his blog[3] on 19 February 2013. A group called putbacktheflag[4] was credited for fuelling Pastagate by sharing over 20,000 links on its Facebook and Twitter pages within the first day of the initial story breaking. According to Sun News, "the story has gained traction on social media, with the Facebook page entitled 'Put Canadian Flag Back In Quebec Assembly', leading the charge". The group was instrumental in starting protests against Bill 14 in Montreal.[5]

Following the Buonanotte incident, other businesses went public with tales of being hassled by language inspectors. The controversy led to the resignation of OQLF chief Louise Marchand.


Following Louise Marchand's resignation, OQLF inspectors were given more discretion in applying the language law. Specifically, the office investigates complaints on the basis of whether they affect an individual or are of concern to the general public. Also, certain culinary terms from other cultures may be used in Quebec restaurants. Position to investigate complaints against the OQLF was established in June 2014.


  1. ^ Pignataro, Luciano (21 February 2013). "Quebec, vietato scrivere pasta nel menu dei ristoranti". Il Mattino. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  2. ^ "La présidente de l'OQLF quitte son poste". canoe.ca. 8 March 2013. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Delmar, Dan (19 February 2013). "The OQLF has a problem with "pasta" (Pastagate)". CJAD 800. Archived from the original on 5 February 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Put Back The Flag". Put Back The Flag. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Quebec language cops target 'pasta'". Sun News Network. 21 February 2013. Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.