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The head of SNC-Lavalin prepares the speech in French as well

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Living in Quebec for seven years, Ian L. Edwards, president of one of Quebec’s flagship companies, SNC-Lavalin, is preparing to speak almost entirely English just days after a language storm created by Air Canada CEO Michael Russo.

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Mr. Edwards will be addressing an audience of businessmen from the Canadian Circuit, next Monday, about the company’s engineering transformations, amid several corruption cases in recent years.

But because of the Rousseau affair, which continues to rock the business community, the president also intends to tackle issues with his monolingual English head-on, as we’ve learned from reliable sources.

It should be noted that there will however be simultaneous interpretation for those attending the event.

Unsuccessful courses

Called by Le Journal, SNC-Lavalin confirms that its manager still has great difficulty speaking French even though he has lived in the city since 2014 and that this has been a problem for several years.

“He received courses for the first time in 2016, but the results were inconclusive. However, he has recently resumed tutoring in this direction,” spokesperson Harold Fortin wrote in an email sent to magazine.

“Recognize and respect the fact that French is the official language of
Quebec and as President and CEO of SNC-Lavalin,
Mr. Edwards pledges to redouble his efforts to improve his knowledge of French to the fullest extent possible,” the spokesperson continued.

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The Caisse de dépôt et placement du
Quebec, the company’s largest shareholder and denouncing Michael Russo’s remarks, did not want to talk about its boss’s monolingualism.

“We do not intend to comment on this discussion on a case-by-case basis,” spokesman Maxime Chagnon said.

SNC-Lavalin, less than Quebecois?

Mr Edwards, who was born in Britain, has run the company since 2019 and replaced his compatriot Neil Bruce, who is also a monolingual English speaker.

For years, many worried about seeing Quebec lose influence within SNC-Lavalin.

Currently, six of SNC-Lavalin’s thirteen CEOs, or 46%, live in Quebec. This percentage has reached 72% in recent years.

Others have expressed concern about the future of the head office in Montreal as the company has pledged to keep it here, but until 2024.

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