Quebec is all about preserving its French heritage. Unlike other provinces of Canada—which recognizes English and French as its official languages—Quebec has a watchdog agency dedicated to that goal, as well as strict laws making French the sole language of government, commerce, the judiciary, and the dominant language on street signs. Even children of immigrants must attend French schools, reports the New York Times. But it's Quebec’s latest, symbolic move to protect the French language that some say goes a step too far. With a 111-0 vote last week, Quebec lawmakers passed an unenforceable resolution asking shopkeepers to greet customers with "Bonjour," the French word for hello, rather than "Bonjour hi," seen as respectful of native French and English speakers.
"It's absurd," one French-speaking shopkeeper tells the Times. "I am a proud Quebecer, but we are in a free country" and "we should be allowed to greet people how we like." Adds Global News columnist Tasha Kheiriddin, "To hear politicians and pundits talk, you'd think 'Bonjour, hi' is the linguistic equivalent of a North Korean nuke." But Quebec's minister of Anglophone affairs thinks the backlash is overblown since a reference to "Bonjour hi" as an "irritant," included in an early draft of the resolution proposed by the Quebec nationalist Parti Quebecois, was removed before the measure was passed. "If you say that it's shocking to hear English, that's unacceptable," Kathleen Weil tells CTV News. "Once all that was removed, what was the negative message in it? There was no negative message."