French lessons and homework every day for an Air Canada CEO

I’m sorry, he repeated from the beginning in a letter full of phrases in French. I apologize again here, and I take responsibility for my words. I regret the impact this has had on our employees, who serve our customers every day in both official languages.

Michael Russo summoned to appear by video before the Official Languages ​​Commission, and returned to it The cry he made in november Ignoring the warnings of the Legault government and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, which advised him not to give a speech exclusively in English.

I learned that in order to fully participate in Quebec society, I had to learn French earlier in my career at Air Canada.On Monday, the chief executive admitted, in English, that his command of French was not good enough to allow him to answer MPs’ questions in Molière’s language.

Air Canada’s CEO made the comments at the start of his testimony before a House of Commons committee on Monday afternoon.

I never learned French before, It was a mistake on my parthe completed. I’m correcting it these days with relatively intense lessons and I hope to be able to speak as soon as possible in French with all of Air Canada’s stakeholders – Everything, he said, with a proper accent.

Mr. Rousseau explained that he was now supervised by two teachers, that he was taking French lessons every morning and that he had to do his homework. Almost every night.

Routine is [des leçons] Every morning and homework almost every evening. »

Quote from Michael Russo, CEO of Air Canada

Mr. Rousseau’s remarks in November triggered a torrent of complaints to the Office of the Official Languages ​​Commissioner. In particular, he argued that it was Honor for Montreal to allow him to live in English only for the past fifteen years.

gold, Montreal, a French cityaccording to its charter. Furthermore, it is the capital of the country’s only officially French-speaking province, as well as the head office of Air Canada.

Since that episode, the Trudeau government has introduced Bill C-13 to give the Commissioner’s office the power to issue fines to companies subject to the Official Languages ​​Act that violate it. piece of legislation, It was introduced three weeks ago in the House of CommonsIt is still far from being approved, however.

one moment please

On Air Canada’s language policies, which are also the subject of frequent criticism among francophones, Mr Rousseau was at odds with Conservative, Bloc and neo-Democrat lawmakers present on Monday.

Committee Vice Chair Coordinator Joel Godin specifically noted that It’s been 45 years Most of the official languages ​​commissioners reported thismethodological problem at Air Canada.

Defensively, the CEO of Air Canada had to admit that since Air Canada is international companyAnd the Most of the time, the language used in the board of directors is English. He admitted that only 4 of its 12 members could understand and speak French.

To show goodwill for his company, Mr. Rousseau explained in particular that English-speaking monolingual employees who cannot serve French-speaking customers, either at the airport or on planes, are required to say one moment please To connect them with a French speaking employee.

In addition, the company speaks to its employees in both official languages ​​and approx The CEO added that half of those in contact with customers are bilingual.


In addition, Air Canada ensures that each of its flights has at least a bilingual flight attendant, Air Canada’s Vice President of Government and Community Relations Danielle Reault, who appeared alongside Mr. Russo, said Monday.

This procedure is also valid for High demand flights of its Jazz subsidiary, which has only one flight attendant per flight, he said.

Finally, Air Canada says it has created a dedicated service for the official languages ​​in recent weeks to monitor the company’s progress, has spent more on training and created an award to promote bilingualism. In addition, it will offer a bonus to employees who recommend a bilingual candidate for a position.

With all these actions, Michael Russo thinks soReduction in the number of complaints against Air Canada key indicator that carrier On the right track.

For now, the main challenge for his company, he reiterated, is finding bilingual employees outside Quebec in the context of a labor shortage.

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