Uproar over lack of French translation at Aurora Cannabis opening in Pointe-Claire

Uproar over lack of French translation at Aurora Cannabis opening in Pointe-Claire
Uproar over lack of French translation at Aurora Cannabis opening in Pointe-Claire

A non-disclosure agreement for the media was available only in English at launch of medical marijuana facility

Published on: November 24, 2017 | Last Updated: November 24, 2017 3:01 PM EST

Cannabis seedlings at the Aurora production facility of medical marijuana in Pointe-Claire on Nov. 24. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

The official opening ceremony of a medical marijuana facility in Pointe-Claire on Friday was marred by a language brouhaha.

Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis announced in March it would be opening a 40,000-square-foot facility called Aurora Vie on Hymus Blvd. When reporters and camera operators from both French and English media outlets showed up for the unveiling, everybody was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure the security of the facility would not be compromised during reporting. The document was available only in English and the two communication assistants sitting at the media table could not explain why.

A Radio-Canada reporter approached chief operating officer Allan Cleiren and asked him why the agreement had not been translated.

Visibly taken aback by the line of questioning, the Edmonton native could not explain the error.

“It all happened quickly,” Cleiren said. “We just got our licence and we just started hiring.”

The media scrum ended with the Radio-Canada reporter asking if the company respected the Quebec people and their language.

Once the news conference got underway, Aurora Cannabis executive vice-president Cam Battley, born and raised in Beaconsfield, gave his speech in French, with truncated comments in English. A subsequent tour of the facility was given in French and then in English, and the fact sheet about the facility was available in both languages.

This is the second incident this week involving an uproar over the use of English during a press launch. The reopening of the renovated Adidas store in downtown Montreal on Thursday took a turn for the worse after the store’s manager, a francophone, said he would “accommodate” the French press with a brief opening comment after which he spoke in English. The language controversy made it all the way to the National Assembly with The Quebec premier calling the incident “unacceptable.”

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