Monolingual for Air Canada President | Michael Russo criticized

Michael Rousseau has been installed in Quebec since 2007 and has been able to live peacefully there even if he only speaks English and says he doesn’t intend to learn Molière’s language due to his job. Crowded weather, causing a language storm in Quebec City as well as in Ottawa.




Julian Arsenault

Julian Arsenault
Journalism

– I was also surprised by her guest’s comments, he said, Wednesday, on the sidelines of a speech to the Chamber of Commerce Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM).

“If you look at my schedule, […] You will understand that this is what I have to focus on,” Mr. Russo, in office since last February, confirmed during a press conference for a few minutes.

Montreal is home to the head office of the country’s largest airline, subject to Official Languages ​​Law.

The words of the president and CEO of Air Canada, which came at a time when the Legault government wants to give more of a bite to Bill 101, were a quick reaction in the political realm.

In a tweet on Twitter, the Minister of Justice and Minister in charge of the French language, Simon-Jolin Barrett, attacked the guest of the Supreme Council of Languages.

PHOTO JACQUES BOISSINOT, The Canadian Press Archive

Simon Julien Barrett, Minister of Justice and Minister in charge of the French Language

In the evening, the Minister of Official Languages, Jeannette Petitbas-Taylor, called on Mr. Rousseau to “make the effort” to learn “the wonderful French”, but fellow Canadian Heritage and Quebec lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez went further.

“Insult to injury,” he wrote on the social network. Air Canada owes its Kickers and Francophones across the country an explanation. It is a lack of respect for our language. unacceptable! ”

there is no problem

Mr. Russo has served as the company’s chief financial officer since 2007 before succeeding Calin Ruffinescu at the helm of the company last February.

The wife of the new president of Air Canada speaks French. By asserting that his family is of “French-speaking ancestry,” the latter admitted that he was able to live in the Montreal area for more than a decade without having to communicate in French.

“It is an honor for the city,” Mr. Rousseau analyzed, at a time when the Legault government wants to give more attention to Law 101.

The businessman’s statements were quickly criticized.

“I find these words appalling and disrespectful,” Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Engled said at the end of the line. Air Canada frankly does not understand the impact of its decisions. ”

The Trudeau government invited to participate in the matter.

For his part, the leader of the Quebec bloc, Yves Francois Blanchett, confirmed on Twitter that Quebec, “its only official language is French, […] More than 20% of federal subsidies and aid are paid to Air Canada,” he said, referring to the subsidy provided to the carrier.

In Parti Quebecoy, leader Paul Saint-Pierre of Blamondon felt that French represented the “optional Piccadilly” of Mr. Rousseau.

from here and there

Except for the raised sentence and at the end of his speech, Mr. Rousseau spoke almost exclusively in English, for about 25 minutes, at a business meeting.

Michel LeBlanc, President and CEO of CCMM, has made no secret of his astonishment at Air Canada’s lack of commitment to France.

Photo of Marco Campanozzi, press archive

Michel LeBlanc

I was surprised to see that the speech contained very little French. It is clear that for us, a president who is going to move to Madrid, and who does not know Spanish, must commit to recognizing that it is the right thing to do to learn it. It’s the same in Quebec.

Michel LeBlanc, President and CEO of CCMM

Air Canada has been hurt more than once by the Office of the Official Languages ​​Commissioner for violating its language obligations. Complaints often relate to service failures in French, one of Canada’s two official languages.

The company was even the subject of a special report in 2016.

On this point, Mr. Russo said Air Canada spends “tens and tens of millions of dollars” annually to ensure its employees are fluent in the two official languages.

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“I think we’re honestly doing a pretty good job,” he said.

This was Mr. Rousseau’s first address to the CCMM since his promotion. He has mainly witnessed the progress the company has made since the initial shock of the health crisis, which notably led to the dismissal of more than 20,000 of its employees.

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