MONTREAL -- The Quebec government wants to make sure that merchants and government workers greet clients with "bonjour," and not with the "bonjour-hi" greeting that is commonly heard in Montreal-area businesses.
Questioned Friday by the Parti Quebecois about what the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government intends to do about strengthening the state of French in Quebec, Simon Jolin-Barrette - the minister responsible for the French language - said he was not closed to the idea of re-opening and strengthening Bill 101, Quebec's Charter of the French Language.
While he didn't explicitly say the government would ban the use of "bonjour-hi," Jolin-Barrette said "everything is on the table." He told reporters afterward that his department has been working with businesses and government offices to promote the use of 'bonjour' as the sole greeting used with clients.
In recent years, Quebec MNAs have twice unanimously adopted motions urging Quebec merchants to greet customers only in French.
"That's what the National Assembly wants," Jolin-Barrette explained.
"People want to be greeted in French in companies and businesses, but also by the Quebec state," Jolin-Barrette said. "So that will be a part of our thinking."
Jolin-Barrette's press attache sent the following reply after CTV News asked for more clarity: "We will analyze all the issues related to defending the French language to see how this can be translated into measures in the coming months. Everything is on the table, and the reflection continues."
The PQ wants the CAQ government to extend Bill 101 to businesses with 25 to 49 employees; prevent businesses from requiring knowledge of English when hiring if that knowledge is not pertinent to the job; and apply Article 1 of Bill 104, which says the government should communicate with businesses in French only.
PQ French-language critic Joël Arseneau said the phrase "bonjour-hi" doesn't yet need to be banned or included in Bill 101.
"I don't think we need to do that yet. I don't think it's even possible to force the private sector and private businesses to use a certain language in their communication with customers," he said, adding. "I think the government should go ahead with a campaign to promote the use of bonjour rather than legislate or adopt a law on that particular aspect."
Liberals also supported the motion urging merchants to greet customers only in French. Last month, interim Liberal leader Pierre Arcand said he was in favour of re-opening Bill 101and strengthening the Charter as long as it didn't impede on people's rights.
"I don't know what (Jolin-Barrette) had in his mind. We will see what he wants to do," said Liberal language critic Christine St-Pierre. "If he tables a bill, we will look at the bill. We will see what he wants to do with this question."