Chrystia Freeland chides Air Canada CEO for not being able to speak French
Freeland urged airline’s board to enshrine French-language proficiency as job requirement for senior managers
Justin Trudeau’s deputy urged Air Canada’s board of directors to enshrine French-language proficiency as a job requirement for senior managers after a speech by the airline’s top executive turned into a public relations nightmare.
In a letter to the airline’s chairman, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said “significant improvement” in Chief Executive Officer Michael Rousseau’s language ability “should be incorporated as one of his key performance goals.”
Rousseau caused a firestorm last week when he delivered a speech to Montreal’s chamber of commerce almost entirely in English, then struggled to answer questions asked by reporters in French afterward. A day later he apologized publicly and vowed to take lessons.
Freeland cited the Canadian government’s 6 per cent equity stake in the airline in her letter, which was released Monday by officials in her department.
“The ability of a candidate to communicate in French should become an important criterion for promotion to the most senior executive positions of the company,” she said in the letter to Chairman Vagn Sorensen.