Canada Bonjour-Hi: English is not a foreign language in Quebec, Couillard says

22:55  07 december  2017
22:55  07 december  2017 Source:   The Gazette

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“I would rather people, even an English -speaking Quebecer, just said Bonjour ,” Couillard said . “Many prefer saying Bonjour because it better reflects the profile of what Quebec is today, a profile we all like. We are all attached to our language .”

QUEBEC — Premier Philippe Couillard has admitted his government underestimated the negative impact the Bonjour - Hi debate would have on And switching to English in a debate in the legislature, Couillard tried to patch things up by saying , in public, that English is not a foreign language in

110217-no_object-1103_city_scared-W.jpg:  © Jacques Boissinot

QUEBEC — Premier Philippe Couillard has admitted his government underestimated the negative impact the Bonjour-Hi debate would have on the English-speaking community.

And switching to English in a debate in the legislature, Couillard tried to patch things up by saying, in public, that English is not a foreign language in Quebec and should not be treated that way.

Answering a question from Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée, who wanted to know how the government planned to follow up a motion adopted here last week urging merchants to drop their traditional Bonjour-Hi greeting and use just Bonjour, Couillard had a multi-pronged response.

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QUEBEC — Premier Philippe Couillard has admitted his government underestimated the negative impact the Bonjour - Hi debate would have on And switching to English in a debate in the legislature, Couillard tried to patch things up by saying , in public, that English is not a foreign language in

The PQ lifted that term from Quebec 's new French language minister, Marie Montpetit, who had used it to describe bonjour / hi during an interview with the French- language TVA news channel last Friday. With the term "irritant" removed from the motion, Couillard said he decided to support the motion

Off the top, he said all Quebecers can be proud of what they have built together over many years and in the face of many obstacles.

“We are all proud of that, all Quebecers are proud of that,” Couillard said.

Then, switching to English in mid-stream, Couillard offered an olive branch to English-speaking Quebecers who in the last few days have expressed frustration and anger at seeing the legislature discourage the use of the word Hi in public.

“I also want to say to English-speaking Quebecers again, there are not different classes of Quebecers here, only one — that’s the first class,” Couillard said. “And English-speaking Quebecers are first-class Quebecers like all of us are.

“I also want to say and tell them that the English language, although French is our official language, the English language is not a foreign language in Quebec.”

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It's a nice way of saying , "Hello stranger, I can help you in either French or English !" It started with Lisée reminding Premier Couillard that the Liberal languages minister had called " Bonjour , hi " an "irritant" during a recent TV interview.

The original PQ motion sought to describe the expression ' bonjour / hi ' as an 'irritant' but Couillard said such wording was aimed at creating an "artificial crisis and a clash between the English and French languages in Quebec ."

Interestingly, Lisée was the first to say he agreed with Couillard’s statement but persisted, noting many members of the Liberal caucus are uncomfortable with the loss of the Bonjour-Hi and said they have no plans to act on the motions adopted unamimously last week.

Couillard did not address the caucus split directly but said, as he feared, the issue – which it one point he referred to as ridiculous – has taken on the kind of proportions of the old Pastagate story and is making international headlines.

He said he’s heard the anger and frustration which poured out of the English-speaking community but added the government has no plans to reverse its view that even anglophones should be using just Bonjour.

“I think we underestimated the impact it would have on our English-speaking compatriots,” Couillard told the house. “I am not talking about going back on this decision but I want to say it in no way contradicts the equal and significant place of English-speaking Quebecers in Quebec.

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READ MORE: Quebec language police ease up on use of some English words by francophones. Press gallery greeted the Premier this morning with a chorus of “ Bonjour / Hi ” #polqc. This being removed, it’s a very good text,” Couillard said .

The original PQ motion sought to describe the expression ‘ bonjour / hi ’ as an ‘irritant’ but Couillard said such wording was aimed at creating an “artificial crisis and a clash between the English and French languages in Quebec .”

“We have to restate this very strongly: Saying Bonjour is beautiful in all languages. Even in English, the word Bonjour is beautiful. It’s written on the taxis of Montreal, by the way. So I think we shouldn’t overreact to this question.”

His comments came a day after his minister for the English-speaking community, Kathleen Weil, argued just that and questioned the community’s emotional reaction to the motion.

Weil tried to downplay the controversy and claimed the motion was misunderstood by anglophones, whom she said had trouble following events at the National Assembly.

Couillard also received a letter this week complaining about the motion from Quebec Community Groups Network president James Shea. In the letter, the QCGN expresses its disappointment with the motion.

But Lisée wants to know what incentive program the government will he put in place to respond to the legislature’s invitation.

Couillard said as far as he’s concerned, the legislature has gone far enough.

“The fact it was said in this legislature suffices,” Couillard responded. “We heard it. Everyone heard it. You will recall during this debate I expressed my fears this would be treated in a ridiculous way outside Quebec.

“As subsequent events proved, I was right to fear this. We remember the Pastagate incident. We have something similar happening now in the international media.

“I am not happy to see the international media write about the co-existence of the French and English communities in this manner. I want to restate we are all first-class Quebecers and we all have our place in society.”

pauthier@postmedia.com

twitter.com/philipauthier

Celebrated missionary in Quebec abused Innu girls, inquiry hears .
MONTREAL—For most of his adult life and for decades after his death Father Alexis Joveneau was regarded as a religious superstar in Quebec.But the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women has heard from several witnesses who said they were sexually abused over several years by the priest.In the predominately Innu community of La Romaine, Que., Joveneau was celebrated, respected, and considered by many to be “Jesus in person,” as one witness recounted. He left a much different impression on his victims.“He mistreated us. He abused us,” said Noelle Mark, 57, who described being touched inappropriately by Joveneau between the ages of about nine and 15.

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