Language remains a hot potato for executives in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, as the head of Canadian engineering firm CNC-Lavalin, Ian Edwards, cancelled an appearance at the Canadian Club of Montreal, because of his limited French.
This comes after Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau was forced to apologize after saying he had been “able to live in Montreal without speaking French and I think that’s a testament to the City of Montreal.”
Those comments led Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, Crystia Freeland, to write a letter to the board of director’s of Air Canada asking that French language skills become an important criterion for job promotion and that Rousseau’s language skills be a determining factor in his annual performance review.
“I watched the video of Mr. Rousseau and I find it insulting,” said Quebec Premier François Legault. “It makes me angry, his attitude, to say that it’s been 14 years since he’s been in Quebec and he did not need to learn French. It’s unspeakable, it shocks me.”
In a response the chairman of the board of of Air Canada, Vagn Sørensen, replied that key measures had been taken such as intensive French-language training for Rousseau. As Edwards cancelation proves the Air Canada CEO will not be the only one.