The Bonjour/Hi fiasco

In the midst of a pandemic, the provincial government decided to give the OQLF its biggest budget boost in more than 25 years - $5 million to hire 50 more language inspectors, including an 11 member squad dedicated to the inspection of signs in this province, and to the apparent harassment of small business owners struggling to survive.

While no one disputes the fact the French language must be protected, the idea that it’s best achieved by quashing the use of English is both offensive and misguided. Add to this comments made by the head of Montreal’s Chamber of Commerce no less, that saying “bonjour/hi” (a debate I thought was over) could be considered offensive to some and shouldn’t be used, and it becomes clear that the attack on English continues.

Introducing the “bonjour/Hi” T-shirt, affirming the right to use the phrase with a thumbs up and unofficial approval from the OQLF- until such time as they decide T-shirts are against the rules too. Like last year’s “Historic Quebec Anglo” T-shirt, proceeds from the sales will go to the Gazette Xmas Fund to help needy Montrealers.

Are you in fact a

Historic Quebec anglophone

If you are, you will be entitled to continue receiving services in English from the government and its various agencies and departments (at least from the same ones that make them available now).  If you are not, then you will find new restrictions limiting your access to those same services. You may be asking, why this is necessary. Why would you suddenly need to ‘prove’ your historical status as an anglophone in Quebec?  

Fair question, so here’s a quick explanation.

After a government ordered review of linguistic practices within its own departments, the results showed some agencies were functioning with “vague linguistic policies” that were less than exemplary in protecting and promoting the French language. The government then used those findings as justification to introduce new legislation designed to reduce access to English services—their solution to protecting the French language. It declared that new arrivals to Quebec would no longer to able to access service in English from the government, unless they could prove they were “historic Quebec Anglos,” which brings us back to where we started.

Are YOU a Historic Quebec Anglo?

According to the premier, that determination would be the same one used under Bill 101 that mandated who would have access to English schools. If your parents went to an English school, you qualify. If not, you don’t. But what if you can’t find your or your parents’ certificate of eligibility? What if your parents were immigrants and didn’t go to school here at all?  How will a list of qualifying Anglos be compiled, and who will be in charge of compiling it? And if you’re not a historic Anglo, what kind of an Anglo are you? Will you need to show identification? Know a secret password?  No one really knows