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Patrick Lagacé: Bonjour Hi, Montreal


by Aubrey Grantham



The “Bonjour Hi” controversy in Montreal has sparked a passionate debate about the city’s cultural identity and linguistic diversity. At the center of this debate is Patrick Lagacé, a prominent figure in Quebec journalism and a well-known advocate for the French language. Lagacé’s involvement in the controversy has made headlines and raised important questions about language politics in this vibrant Canadian city.


Montreal, with its unique blend of French and English-speaking residents, has long been recognized as a symbol of cultural diversity in Canada. However, tensions between the two linguistic communities have persisted, leading to periodic flare-ups of controversy. The “Bonjour Hi” issue is the latest episode in this ongoing linguistic debate.


Patrick Lagacé, a respected journalist and columnist, has been vocal about his support for the French language in Quebec. Through his journalistic work and public appearances, he has consistently advocated for the preservation and promotion of the French culture and language.


The controversy erupted when Lagacé expressed his strong disapproval of the use of the phrase “Bonjour Hi” as a greeting in Montreal’s retail establishments. The phrase, which combines both French and English greetings, has been adopted by some businesses to cater to a diverse clientele and demonstrate a welcoming atmosphere. However, Lagacé argues that this practice compromises the primacy of the French language in the city.


This issue has brought to the forefront the larger question of Montreal’s identity – is it primarily a French-speaking city with English as a secondary language, or is it a bilingual city where both languages should be given equal importance? This debate has captured the attention of not only Montreal residents but also individuals across Quebec and beyond.


In this article, we will delve into Patrick Lagacé’s perspective on the “Bonjour Hi” controversy, explore the impact it has had on Montreal’s identity, examine the public reaction, and discuss the actions taken by political leaders in response to this ongoing linguistic debate.


Background of Patrick Lagacé

Patrick Lagacé is a well-known figure in Quebec’s media landscape. Born in Montreal, Lagacé began his career in journalism in the early 2000s, and has since become one of the province’s most respected journalists, columnists, and television personalities.


Lagacé’s keen interest in politics and social issues has shaped his career. He has covered a wide range of topics, including corruption scandals, election campaigns, and cultural debates. His incisive writing style and ability to tackle complex issues in a straightforward and engaging manner have garnered him a large following.


Throughout his career, Lagacé has been known for his commitment to defending the French language and promoting the culture of Quebec. He has been a vocal advocate for French-language rights and has voiced his concerns about the potential dilution of French in Quebec society.


As a columnist for La Presse, one of Quebec’s major newspapers, Lagacé has used his platform to address language-related issues, including the preservation of French in the face of increasing globalization and the influence of English-language media. His writings have sparked discussions and debates among both supporters and critics of his stance.


Aside from his work in print media, Lagacé has also made regular appearances on television, notably as a commentator on political shows and as a co-host on the popular talk show “Tout le monde en parle.” His presence in mainstream media has given him a wide reach and influence over public opinion.


Throughout his career, Lagacé has received numerous awards and recognition for his journalistic achievements. He has been praised for his investigative reporting, his ability to ask tough questions, and his dedication to providing his audience with a balanced and informed perspective on the issues that matter to Quebecers.


With his deep knowledge of Quebec’s political landscape and society, Lagacé has become a trusted voice in the province’s media. As such, his involvement in the “Bonjour Hi” controversy has added significant weight to the debate and has fueled further discussions about language and identity in Quebec.


The “Bonjour Hi” Controversy in Montreal

The “Bonjour Hi” controversy in Montreal revolves around the use of a bilingual greeting in retail establishments, where employees say “Bonjour Hi” to customers as they enter the store. While some view this as a friendly and inclusive gesture, others see it as an infringement on the dominance of the French language in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec.


Patrick Lagacé, known for his advocacy of the French language, took a strong stance against the use of this bilingual greeting. He argues that it undermines the primacy of the French language and serves as a concession to English dominance. Lagacé contends that Montreal, as a predominantly French-speaking city, should prioritize the use of French in its public spaces, including commercial establishments.


Supporters of Lagacé’s viewpoint argue that the “Bonjour Hi” greeting erodes the cultural fabric of Quebec and dilutes the importance of French in the province. They assert that by adopting such a bilingual greeting, businesses are perpetuating a form of linguistic assimilation and hindering the preservation of the French language.


On the other hand, proponents of the bilingual greeting argue that it is a reflection of Montreal’s multicultural and inclusive identity. They believe that by welcoming customers with a combination of “Bonjour” and “Hi,” businesses are embracing the diversity of the city and creating a warm and welcoming environment for English-speaking customers and tourists.


The controversy has led to passionate debates and discussions among Montreal residents, as well as within political and linguistic circles. While some argue for the protection of the French language and the preservation of Quebec’s cultural heritage, others emphasize the importance of linguistic harmony and the recognition of a multicultural society.


It is important to note that the controversy is not limited to the “Bonjour Hi” greeting alone. It reflects deeper tensions surrounding language and identity in Quebec, where language politics have long been a topic of discussion and study. The “Bonjour Hi” controversy is just one manifestation of the ongoing linguistic debate that has shaped the province’s history and cultural landscape.


As the debate rages on, Montreal finds itself at a crucial crossroads, torn between the preservation of its French-speaking identity and the desire to embrace its multicultural character. The outcome of this controversy will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the linguistic landscape and cultural identity of this vibrant Canadian city.


Lagacé’s Perspective on the Issue

Patrick Lagacé is known for his staunch support of the French language and his advocacy for the preservation of Quebec’s cultural identity. His perspective on the “Bonjour Hi” issue is unequivocal – he believes that Montreal should prioritize the use of the French language in public spaces, including commercial establishments.


Lagacé argues that the adoption of a bilingual greeting undermines the primacy of the French language in a predominantly French-speaking province. He sees it as a concession to English dominance and a dilution of Quebec’s cultural heritage. In his view, the preservation of French is not only a matter of linguistic pride, but also a way to maintain the distinctiveness and uniqueness of Quebec’s identity.


Lagacé has emphasized that the issue is not about excluding or rejecting the English language, but rather about preserving the integrity of the French language in a predominantly francophone society. He believes that Montreal, as a French-speaking city, should prioritize the use of French to ensure the vitality and longevity of the language.


Moreover, Lagacé contends that the “Bonjour Hi” greeting can perpetuate linguistic assimilation and hinder the promotion of French among future generations. He argues that by using the bilingual greeting, businesses are implicitly endorsing English dominance and inadvertently sending a message that English is superior or more important than French.


In Lagacé’s view, the linguistic debate is not just about language; it has broader socio-cultural implications. He sees language as an integral part of a community’s identity and the gateway to its history, literature, and cultural expressions. By prioritizing French, Lagacé believes that Quebec can strengthen its cultural bonds and maintain its distinct character in an increasingly globalized world.


However, it is important to note that Lagacé’s perspective has drawn criticism from those who argue for a more inclusive and multicultural approach. Critics argue that his viewpoint prioritizes linguistic purity over the recognition and celebration of Montreal’s diverse population and the languages they bring to the city.


Nevertheless, Lagacé’s perspective carries significant weight due to his influence in Quebec media and his commitment to promoting the French language. His vocal stance on the “Bonjour Hi” issue has sparked important discussions and prompted individuals to reflect on the relationship between language, identity, and cultural preservation in Quebec.


Impact on Montreal’s Identity

The “Bonjour Hi” controversy has had a profound impact on the identity of Montreal, a city known for its rich cultural heritage and linguistic diversity. The debate surrounding the use of a bilingual greeting in commercial establishments has ignited discussions about the city’s linguistic landscape and the balance between preserving French as the dominant language and embracing multiculturalism.


One of the main aspects of Montreal’s identity is its status as a predominantly French-speaking city. French has long been considered a fundamental element of Quebec’s cultural fabric, and its preservation is seen by many as crucial to maintaining the distinctiveness of the province. The controversy has highlighted the concerns of those who fear that the widespread use of bilingual greetings may erode the primacy of French and dilute Quebec’s cultural identity.


However, Montreal is also renowned for its multiculturalism and its embrace of diversity. The city is home to a vibrant English-speaking community and many other ethnic communities that contribute to its colorful tapestry. Some argue that the “Bonjour Hi” greeting reflects Montreal’s inclusive nature, extending a warm welcome to individuals from various linguistic backgrounds and fostering a sense of unity and acceptance.


The controversy has exposed underlying tensions between those who prioritize the preservation of French and those who advocate for a more multicultural approach. It has highlighted the challenge of finding a balance between affirming Quebec’s French-speaking identity and recognizing the linguistic rights and cultural contributions of other communities.


Moreover, the impact of the “Bonjour Hi” controversy extends beyond language and culture. It touches on the economic and tourism sectors in Montreal. The city attracts visitors from around the world, and its image as a welcoming and bilingual destination plays a significant role in attracting tourists and businesses alike. The controversy has spurred discussions about the potential consequences of adopting a strict linguistic approach on the city’s economic prosperity and international reputation.


Ultimately, the “Bonjour Hi” controversy has forced Montrealers to confront questions about their collective identity, the role of language in defining that identity, and the delicate balance between linguistic preservation and multicultural inclusivity. The outcome of this ongoing debate will not only shape Montreal’s future but also influence the broader understanding of language, diversity, and identity in other multicultural cities around the world.


Public Reaction and Debate

The “Bonjour Hi” controversy in Montreal has sparked passionate reactions and ignited a spirited debate among residents, linguists, politicians, and the general public. The issue has divided opinion, leading to discussions about language rights, cultural preservation, and the balance between linguistic inclusivity and the preservation of Quebec’s French-speaking identity.


Public reaction to the controversy has been diverse. Supporters of the bilingual greeting argue that it promotes inclusivity and reflects the multicultural nature of Montreal. They argue that the use of both “Bonjour” and “Hi” is a way to make visitors and English-speaking residents feel welcome, fostering a sense of hospitality and creating a positive image for the city.


On the other hand, proponents of the preservation of the French language believe that the widespread use of bilingual greetings undermines the primacy and importance of French in Quebec. They argue that French is not just a language, but a symbol of Quebec’s cultural heritage, and its preservation is crucial to maintaining the distinct identity of the province.


The debate has extended beyond linguistic considerations to questions of cultural identity and national pride. Some Montrealers view the controversy as reflective of a broader struggle to protect Quebec’s unique cultural identity from the influence of globalized forces. They fear that the erosion of French could lead to the homogenization of Quebec culture and the dilution of its distinctiveness.


The controversy has also highlighted generational differences in perspective. Younger generations, accustomed to a more multicultural and globalized society, tend to be more accepting of the bilingual greeting and emphasize inclusivity. Older generations, who have witnessed the historical struggles for linguistic rights in Quebec, often display a stronger attachment to preserving the French language and cultural heritage.


The media has played a significant role in fueling and shaping the public debate. Newspapers, television programs, and social media platforms have provided platforms for diverse voices to express their opinions. Op-ed pieces and talk shows have featured discussions and interviews with linguists, politicians, and community leaders, providing different viewpoints and analysis of the controversy.


The debate surrounding the “Bonjour Hi” issue has not been exclusive to Montreal and Quebec. It has garnered attention both nationally and internationally, attracting coverage from major news outlets. The controversy has stirred conversations about language policy, cultural preservation, and minority rights in multilingual societies around the world.


Amidst the public debate, there have been calls for official guidelines or policies to address this issue. Some believe that clear rules or recommendations could help businesses navigate the linguistic sensitivities and strike a balance between linguistic inclusivity and the preservation of Quebec’s cultural heritage.


As the public reaction and debate continue, it remains to be seen how this controversy will ultimately shape the linguistic landscape of Montreal and influence the broader understanding of language rights and cultural preservation in Quebec and beyond.


Political Response and Actions

The “Bonjour Hi” controversy in Montreal has not only drawn public attention but has also prompted political leaders to respond and take action. Political figures at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels have expressed their viewpoints and proposed measures to address the linguistic debate and its impact on Montreal’s identity.


Municipal politicians in Montreal have shown a variety of responses to the controversy. Some city councilors have publicly supported the use of bilingual greetings, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and accommodating the needs of a diverse population. Others have advocated for measures to protect the primacy of the French language, suggesting the adoption of stricter language policies for businesses and public institutions.


In the Quebec provincial government, there have been discussions about addressing the linguistic balance in Montreal. The government has recognized the importance of protecting and promoting the French language while acknowledging the diversity of the city’s population. Some politicians have proposed regulations to define language practices in commercial establishments, aiming to strike a balance between linguistic inclusivity and the preservation of Quebec’s cultural heritage.


At the federal level, the “Bonjour Hi” controversy has prompted discussions and reflections on bilingualism and linguistic rights across Canada. Leaders and politicians have commented on the importance of respecting Quebec’s linguistic landscape while ensuring equal opportunities for both English and French speakers in the country.


Political actions have taken various forms, ranging from public statements and pledges to potential legislative measures. This includes proposals to revise language laws, establish clearer guidelines for commercial greetings, and ensure consistent language practices in public spaces.


Additionally, the controversy has led to initiatives aimed at promoting and preserving the French language in Quebec and Montreal. Language advocacy groups have been vocal in their support of Lagacé’s stance and have organized campaigns urging businesses to prioritize the use of French greetings. These groups also emphasize the importance of French-language education and access to French services in the province.


It is important to note that the political response to the controversy differs among parties and individuals, reflecting different ideologies and priorities. The discussions and actions taken by politicians are a reflection of the complex nature of language politics in Quebec and the balancing act between linguistic rights, cultural preservation, and inclusivity.


As the political response and actions continue to unfold, it remains to be seen how the issue will be addressed and resolved. The outcome of these discussions and potential legislative measures will shape the linguistic landscape of Montreal and influence the future of language policies in Quebec and beyond.



The “Bonjour Hi” controversy in Montreal has sparked a fervent debate about language, culture, and identity. The controversy has shed light on the complex balance between the preservation of French as the dominant language in Quebec and the recognition of Montreal’s multicultural character.


Patrick Lagacé, a prominent advocate for the French language, has been at the forefront of this debate, expressing his concerns about bilingual greetings and their impact on Quebec’s cultural heritage. His perspective has sparked discussions and reflection on the role of language in shaping societal identity and the challenges of maintaining linguistic and cultural distinctiveness in a globalized world.


The controversy has captured the attention of the public, media, and political leaders, leading to a diverse range of reactions and proposed actions. Supporters of the bilingual greeting argue for inclusivity and the recognition of Montreal as a multicultural city, while proponents of linguistic preservation emphasize the importance of French in preserving Quebec’s cultural identity.


Amidst the public debate, political leaders at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels have responded with varying viewpoints and proposed measures. These range from suggestions for stricter language policies to initiatives that promote and preserve the French language in Quebec. There is a recognition of the need to find a balance that respects linguistic diversity while upholding the significance of the French language.


As the controversy continues, it remains to be seen how the issue will be resolved and what implications it will have on Montreal’s linguistic landscape and its cultural identity. The outcome of this debate will not only shape Montreal’s future but will also influence the broader understanding of language rights, multiculturalism, and cultural preservation in diverse societies.


Ultimately, the “Bonjour Hi” controversy serves as a reminder that language is not merely a means of communication, but a symbol of cultural heritage, identity, and values. It forces us to confront the complexities of linguistic politics and the ever-evolving nature of multicultural societies.


In the end, whether Montreal remains a predominantly French-speaking city with English as a secondary language or embraces a more bilingual approach, the ongoing debate highlights the importance of fostering understanding and dialogue in order to forge a path forward that respects both linguistic heritage and cultural diversity.