10/07/2019 13:09 EDT | Updated 10/07/2019 13:10 EDT

‘Bonjour-Hi’ Greeting Lives On In Quebec As Government Backtracks On Ban

The province considered legislation to force retailers to stop using it.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette speaks at a news conference in Quebec City on March 28, 2019. The minister says the province will try to encourage retailers to greet customers in French. 

MONTREAL — Quebec’s immigration minister now says there is no plan to bring in legislation to prevent retail workers from greeting their customers with “bonjour-hi,” three days after he raised the possibility of banning the bilingual greeting.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is also minister responsible for the French language, says the government will work to encourage retailers to greet customers in French instead of forcing them.

The bilingual greeting has been widely adopted by retail workers in Montreal in an effort to welcome a diverse clientele, but it has also become a source of controversy among those who fear the gradual erosion of the French language. 

On Friday, Jolin-Barrette said the province was looking for a way to ban the greeting, as a way of building on two unanimous motions passed in the legislature calling on store clerks to stick to a simple “bonjour.”

Jolin-Barrette did not specify how he planned to accomplish the task but insisted to reporters that people want to be welcomed in French.

He clarified on Monday that while the government is looking at a variety of measures to promote and protect the French language, there is no plan to legislate specifically on the popular phrase.

This report for The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2019

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