"As far as I know on our taxis it says 'Bonjour,' there is no 'Hi'," Mayor Valérie Plante says. Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante gingerly ventured into the delicate “Bonjour-Hi” debate Friday but did not give clear answers when asked if she’d tell merchants to drop English when addressing customers.
Speaking to reporters, Plante was asked about the Parti Québecois motion unanimously passed by the National Assembly Thursday, asking merchants to greet clients with “Bonjour” instead of “Bonjour-Hi,” a common greeting in Montreal stores.
“As far as I know on our taxis it says ‘Bonjour,’ there is no ‘Hi,’ so we will have nothing have to change there,” she said in response to the first question.
She added: “I’m very proud to be the mayor of North America’s francophone metropolis. For us, the French fact is there and we’re very proud of it.”
She noted that she speaks French, English and Spanish, suggesting “you have to be flexible. In our city we receive tourists, foreign students but again, French is there and I’m very proud.”
She was asked if that meant she would encourge the use of “Bonjour,” rather than a bilingual greeting.
“As mayor, I can’t impose rules but … Montreal is the francophone metropolis of North America. It’s an asset, it’s a plus and we want to showcase it.”
So she supports the National Assembly motion?
“The motion says French is important – yes, French is very important and we have to showcase it,” she answered.
Asked what she would say to anglophone store workers who think they’re just being polite and open by saying “Bonjour-Hi,” Plante answered: “The fact that we are the francophone metropolis of North America is an asset, is something we have to be proud of and I am proud.
“But I’m also proud to speak French, English and Spanish and I think that in Montreal where we receive tourists and there’s foreign students, it’s important to be flexible but to say Bonjour, everybody says Bonjour, and it’s also on our taxis.”
A reporter suggested Plante was “saying two things at the same time,” asking again whether she would encourage a merchant to say “Bonjour.”
“The motion says French is important,” Plante repeated. “I say, Yes, French is very important everywhere in Quebec including Montreal, and Bonjour is a word that we use everywhere, including on our taxis and that’s what I want to showcase.”
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