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MONTREAL -- As Quebec's government decides on the fate of "bonjour-hi," the ubiquitous greeting in Montreal stores and businesses, a new poll finds that more than three-quarters of Quebecers believe that Montreal is a bilingual city.

The poll, conducted in late August through early September by Leger Marketing on behalf of the Association for Canadian Studies, found that 76.6 per cent of Quebecers who were surveyed somewhat to strongly believe that Montreal is a bilingual city. That figure rises to 81.6 per cent of respondents who were polled in the Montreal area.

Francophones in the Montreal area also strongly believe in Montreal's bilingual status: 80.3 per cent of French-speaking respondents surveyed in the Montreal area believe the city is bilingual, not far removed from the 83.2 per cent of English-speaking Montrealers who believe the same. (Among Montrealers whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, the figure rises to 85.6 per cent).

Bilingualism is flourishing among Montreal's English speakers, said Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies.

"In fact, never in the history off the province would you see anglophones speaking French to the extent that they do today," he said.

On Friday, Simon Jolin-Barrette, the Quebec minister in charge of the French language, sparked headlines when he said that the Coalition Avenir Quebec government was considering measures to make 'bonjour' the exclusive greeting used by Quebec merchants and its public service.  On Monday, he walked that back, saying he wouldn't ban its usage, but instead would encourage French-only greetings.

The poll was conducted by web panel between Aug. 29 and Sept. 4. The sample was 1,937 Quebecers: 1,019 English-speaking, 773 French-speaking and 144 whose first language is neither English nor French.