MONTREAL -- The CAQ government will not ban the use of 'bonjour-hi' at Montreal's shops and service counters.
An official in Premier Francois Legault's office confirmed as much on Monday, saying in a statement: “We do not have any intention of adopting a law to ban the use of ‘bonjour-hi.’”
Simon Jolin-Barrette, Quebec's minister in charge of the French language, said the government will still discourage the use of English in Montreal stores and try to encourage the use of French.
"We are going to put incentive measures to ensure that in different stores, people will be welcomed by the word 'bonjour,' because that is distinctive of Quebec – for Montreal also, because Montreal is the biggest city of the French language," he said, adding that it is "really important to keep that specific character about Quebec society."
After idea was floated Friday by language minister @SJB_CAQ, Premier @francoislegault's office says it will *not* impose law to ban "Bonjour/Hi" in QC businesses. "We prefer to sensitize Quebecers to the issue. There is unanimity in the National Assembly on this question." #polqc— Maya Johnson (@MJohnsonCTV) October 7, 2019
On Friday, Jolin-Barrette, sparked headlines when he said that the Quebec government was considering measures to make 'bonjour' the exclusive greeting used by merchants and public service employees in the province, despite the popular bilingual greeting often heard in Montreal's stores and restaurants.
"People should welcome tourists or people who come into the store by the word 'bonjour,' but we will not pass a law with the 'bonjour-hi' question," he confirmed on Monday.
The idea that Quebec could legislate the language of private conversations sounded ridiculous to Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies.
"In the New York Times, we would look extremely stupid: 'Quebec Bans Hi.' We would look totally stupid," he said.
It comes as a new poll finds that more than three-quarters of Quebecers believe that Montreal is a bilingual city.
- With files from CTV News Montreal's Maya Johnson and Rob Lurie