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Preliminary report finds complaints about Air Canada CEO speech founded: commissioner

GATINEAU, Que.
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French language advocates protest Air Canada's chief executive Michael Rousseau's inability to speak French in front of the airline's head office during a demonstration in Montreal, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. The Commissioner of Official Languages says a preliminary report into whether a speech by the chief executive of Air Canada in November met the airline's obligations under the Official Languages Act has established that the complaints are founded. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

GATINEAU, Que. — The Commissioner of Official Languages says a preliminary report into whether a speech by the chief executive of Air Canada in November met the airline's obligations under the Official Languages Act has established that the complaints are founded.

However, Raymond Théberge notes that the conclusions are not final and that the parties involved will have the chance to provide comment before the final report.

Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau sparked an outcry last year when, following a speech almost entirely in English, he told reporters he did not need to learn French to get by in Montreal.

He later apologized and has since started taking French lessons.

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages received 2,680 complaints as of Feb. 28 about the speech to make it the most complaints ever received for a single case.

Théberge said in his statement that bilingualism is a crucial skill for leaders, especially those in institutions subject to the Official Languages Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2022.

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The Canadian Press

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