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Air Canada's CEO Was Invited To Parliament To Talk About The Importance Of Speaking French

In November he boasted about living in Montreal without speaking French.

Staff Writer
Air Canada's CEO Was Invited To Parliament To Talk About The Importance Of Speaking French

In a meeting of Parliament's Standing Committee on Official Languages on Wednesday, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau was unanimously invited to share his thoughts on the importance of speaking French.

Conservative Quebec MP Joël Godin first presented the motion to invite Rousseau to speak to the committee at a two-hour meeting "on the place and importance of official languages" at the airline.

In November, Rousseau was under fire from all sides of the linguistic divide after boasting about how he didn't learn any French after living in Montreal for over a decade.

"I've been able to live in Montreal without speaking French and I think that's a testament to the City of Montreal," he told reporters.

His comments triggered swift criticism from politicians and pundits from across the country.

Quebec Minister of the French Language Simon Jolin-Barrette called Rousseau's comment "unworthy of the position he holds." Premier François Legault called it "insulting." Provincial Liberal party leader Dominique Anglade said it was "appalling and disrespectful."

In a statement after the incident, the Air Canada CEO apologized for the remark, saying he wanted to "make it clear" that he didn't intend to "show disrespect for Quebecers and francophones across the country."

"I pledge today to improve my French, an official language of Canada and the common language of Quebec, while tackling the serious commercial challenges facing Air Canada as we move from surviving the pandemic to rebuilding to normalcy."

"I reiterate Air Canada's commitment to show respect for French and, as a leader, I will set the tone."

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