Toys ‘R’ Us in Quebec refuses to sell English-only Daniel Tiger doll
Montreal father says it should be up to parents, not province, to determine the toys kids play with
By Kate McKenna, CBC News Posted: Apr 13, 2015 6:02 PM ET Last Updated: Apr 14, 2015 11:34 AM ET
Nick Messina of Montreal says rules should be changed after a clerk refused to sell him an English-speaking Daniel Tiger toy for his daughter, Carina.
Nick Messina of Montreal says rules should be changed after a clerk refused to sell him an English-speaking Daniel Tiger toy for his daughter, Carina. (CBC)
A Montreal man is criticizing Quebec language laws after a clerk at a local Toys “R” Us told him he was wasn’t allowed to purchase a talking plush toy for his daughter because it only speaks and sings in English.
Nick Messina tried to purchase the Daniel Tiger toy for his one-year-old daughter, Carina, after noticing her eyes “lit up” while watching the popular children’s TV show Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood.
Hoping to buy it as an Easter gift, he drove to his nearest Toys “R” Us, but it wasn’t in stock.
He called another Toys “R” Us in Montreal, and was informed by the clerk that two of the toys were in stock, but that Messina couldn’t buy it because it was unilingual.
Daniel Tiger talks and sings 14 different phrases — all in English.
Messina said the clerk thanked him for letting them know the toy only spoke English, and said it would be shipped back to Ontario.
“I kind of felt a little bit turned off. I felt it was discriminatory against the English-speaking community in Montreal. After all, Montreal is multi-ethnic, multicultural,” he said.
Not giving up, the father tried to purchase the doll online — only to discover the Toys “R” Us website wouldn’t ship the product to Quebec.
English-speaking toys illegal
Messina didn’t know until a few weeks ago, but because of Quebec’s language laws, it’s illegal to sell a unilingual toy unless it has a French-speaking counterpart.
He says it should be up to parents — not the province — to determine the toys they can buy for their kids.
“I don’t understand why, when it comes to the choice of purchasing a toy for our children, that we have to be subjected to these kinds of rules and regulations,” he said.
“It’s kind of saddening.”
Toys ‘R’ Us admits mistake
In a statement to CBC News, a spokeswoman from Toys “R” Us apologized for the inconvenience, but said the toy shouldn’t have been on the shelves.
“Toys ‘R’ Us shipped in error the English-speaking product to one of our Quebec stores and a customer tried to purchase it. Our store did not sell the product to the customer and we apologized for the inconvenience that this caused our customer. We immediately communicated to our store that this product cannot be sold,” said the statement.
Messina’s perseverance paid off.
He managed to buy the doll eventually, on Amazon, for about $50 more than the Toys “R” Us price.
Though it was more than her dad had planned to pay for the doll, Carina adores her new toy.