Air Canada CEO must learn French, says Chrystia Freeland

Air Canada CEO must learn French, says Chrystia Freeland

Chrystia Freeland

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland asks Air Canada President, Michael Rousseau, to learn French. Ms Freeland has sent a letter to the air carrier's board of directors questioning her ability to govern.

Improving French must be part of the criteria for evaluating Mr. Rousseau's annual performance, she believes, and an “important criterion” for obtaining promotions within the company. “The board should review policies and practices relating to the use of French,” she writes.

On Wednesday, in a speech at the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM), Michael Rousseau barely slipped a few words in French. Subsequently, in a melee exchange, Mr. Rousseau & nbsp; asked reporters to ask him questions strictly in English so that he could fully understand them. However, he had just made it clear in his speech that he understood the language of Molière.

“His comments regarding the use of the French language are completely incompatible with the commitment made the Corporation with regard to the two official languages ​​since the very first days of the privatization of Air Canada “, denounces Chrystia Freeland in her letter sent to Vagn Sorensen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Air Canada.

Mr. Rousseau & rsquo; s vision of French “is contrary to the expectations of many Canadians – Air Canada customers – of their national airline,” said Ms. Freeland.

Reactions explosives

Several speakers, such as the leaders of the Liberal Party of Quebec and of Quebec solidaire, called for the resignation of Michael Rousseau.

“He showed contempt for all those in Quebec who take the time to learn French when they arrive, who take French lessons today, who invest in the Quebec they they live “, commented the member for Pontiac, André Fortin.

For his part, Prime Minister François Legault described the situation as insulting.

Since then, Michael Rousseau has apologized, pledging to improve his French. “I reiterate Air Canada's commitment to show respect for French and, as a leader, I will set the tone,” he promised.

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