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Air Canada CEO apologizes in first French comments since bilingualism brouhaha last year

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Air Canada’s chief government has apologized to a parliamentary committee in his first comments since his poor grasp of the French language sparked an enormous outcry last fall.

“I am sorry. I apologize again here,” Michael Rousseau stated in laboured French throughout video convention testimony to the standing committee on official languages.

Rousseau stated his comments last November had been “insensitive” when he stated that he managed to stay 14 years in Montreal with out talking French, which is “to the credit” of the town.

The CEO was additionally criticized for giving a business speech in Montreal only in English.

“I admit that I made a mistake by not learning to speak French when I joined Air Canada and I am correcting that mistake at this point,” he stated.

Under questioning from Bloc MP Mario Beaulieu, Rousseau stated he research French each morning with tutors from respected corporations.

Rousseau additionally instructed the committee that Air Canada, which is topic to the Official Languages Act, understands its obligation to speak with its prospects in the official language of their alternative.

Rousseau stated unilingual English-speaking staff unable to serve a French-speaking buyer, each on the airport and on board the plane, are instructed to say “one moment please” whereas they put them in contact with a French-speaking worker.

Conservative Joel Godin, vice-chair of the committee, instructed Rousseau that “it’s been 45 years” that almost all of official languages commissioners have described “a systemic problem” at Air Canada.

When Rousseau answered that the language spoken on the board of administrators is English, the MP requested how the significance of respecting the French language may be mirrored all through the group.

Rousseau stated the corporate speaks to its staff in each official languages and half of its staff are bilingual.

NDP MP Niki Ashton stated she was dissatisfied that not solely was the Air Canada CEO’s presentation not half in French, which might be the “minimum,” but in addition that each one of his solutions had been in English.

She stated Air Canada exhibits a “lack of respect” for French, pointing to the CEO for example.

Training for workers

Since 2016, Air Canada says it has offered greater than 130,000 hours of classes to 10,000 staff to show them to talk French. The air service claims to do “learning retention” for its bilingual staff and develop programs in order that staff can “qualify” as bilingual.

“If I calculate quickly, that makes 13 hours per employee,” stated Conservative MP Jacques Gourde, who was not impressed.

In response to a Liberal MP who questioned him on how Air Canada will measure its efficiency in phrases of bilingualism, Rousseau stated {that a} lower in complaints could be a “key indicator.”

Called to guarantee parliamentarians that Air Canada will combat towards the decline of French, Rousseau stated that bilingualism is “very important” for the corporate and for him personally.

“I believe that promoting bilingualism is in the best interest of Canada and Air Canada because it is part of our brand. It is part of our capital and I take it very seriously,” he stated.

Air Canada says it has arrange a division devoted to official languages in current weeks to watch the service’s progress, spent extra on coaching and created an award for selling bilingualism. In addition, it’s going to provide a bonus to staff who refer a bilingual candidate for a place.

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