Quebec colonizing continues.

Some of you might be wondering about that silly motion by the Quebec National Assembly last week. It was the one suggesting that Montreal merchants stop saying “Bonjour Hi” to customers coming into their places of business. The motion was proposed by those language snobs of the Parti Québécois and passed unanimously by all parties. The politicians are worried that merchants who are polite to their English-speaking customers might be easy for the English to colonize.

The conclusion we take to this foolishness is that Montreal merchants are a lot smarter than the politicians in Quebec.

You will please note that the motion of the Assembly is just a polite suggestion and has no form of enforcement included. They still cannot stop people from being polite. The politicians did not want to be given the finger by the Montreal merchants they were complaining about.

What the merchants know and the politicians fail to understand is that the merchants are there to do business. They are not allowed under the province’s somewhat oppressive language laws to say “welcome” on the outside of their place of business but inside is their territory. When someone comes into your store or restaurant, there is a strong possibility that they might want to buy something. The merchants are not all that interested in promoting one language over another. They will be happy to help you do business in either of Canada’s official languages.

I remember a time in Montreal when you got into some abusive situations if you could not speak French. Luckily, merchants realized that confrontations over language are bad for business. They certainly do not promote tourism. As one of those people who cannot carry a musical note in a bucket, I seem to have just as an inadequate an ear for languages. And growing up among the melange of languages of Toronto, there was the chance to study French but not to practice what had been learned.

Traveling around the world over the years, I have learned that you can never be proficient in enough languages but my rudimentary knowledge of French has sometimes been helpful. What really seems to matter in most countries is that it pays to be observant of customs. Politeness never gets you in trouble.

The Montreal business that wants to be polite to me by saying “Bonjour Hi” is going to be the one that gets my business 90 per cent of the time.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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