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Quebec’s CAQ government wants an end to ‘Bonjour! Hi!’

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The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) wants to fix what many believe does not need to be fixed. They want to re-open the issue where businesses and merchants greet clients with ‘Bonjour! Hi!’ and instead have them use ‘Bonjour’ only. They feel the only way to ‘defend’ the French language in the province is by enforcing it, even going so far as to potentially ‘strengthen’ Quebec’s Bill 101 French Language Charter.

In the National Assembly on Friday October 4th, the Parti Quebecois brought forth questions concerning what the CAQ ‘intends to do about strengthening the state of French in Quebec’. The answer from Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, whose dossier includes the French language, was that he was ‘not closed to the idea of re-opening and strengthening Bill 101’. When questioned later on by reporters, he did not outright state they would ban the use of ‘Bonjour! Hi!’, but said ‘everything is on the table’ and his ‘department has been working with businesses and government offices to promote the use of ‘bonjour’ as the sole greeting used with clients’ and ‘that’s what the National Assembly wants… people want to be greeted in French in companies and businesses, but also by the Quebec state, so that will be a part of our thinking.’ He also added, ‘The National Assembly is ‘keen’ on French-only greetings…and I think I will have to translate it into measures in the coming months with the reform that I will propose’.

What the Party Quebecois asked the CAQ to do includes: Extending the application of Bill 101 to companies with 25 to 49 employees, Prohibiting companies from requiring ‘knowledge of English’ at hiring when it is not necessary for employment and enforcing Article 1 of Bill 104, requiring ‘the state to communicate only in French with legal persons’. It should also be noted that Catherine Dorion, MNA for

Québec Solidaire stated that she would like to ‘see the government defend Quebec culture from American tech giants, apply Bill 101 to Crown corporations and forbid francophone universities from teaching English programs’.

All this coming after the Office Quebecois de la langue francaise recently targeted the multilingual borough of CDN-NDG, which has a large Anglophone population, for using English at their meetings and in communications of services to its citizens – and demanded everything be in French only. All Montreal boroughs have been asked to fill out a questionnaire about their language usage. Once completed, the OQLF will ‘discuss’ the next steps with the boroughs and their officials.

By: Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca

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