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Justin Trudeau defends decision to answer questions only in French at Sherbrooke, Que. town hall

Click to play video: 'Justin Trudeau defends decision to only speak French at Sherbrooke town hall' Justin Trudeau defends decision to only speak French at Sherbrooke town hall
WATCH ABOVE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his decision after he answered questions only in French during a town hall in Sherbrooke. Global's Sarah Volstad reports – Jan 18, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his decision after he chose to answer questions only in French during a town hall in Sherbrooke, Que., Tuesday night.

During a press conference Wednesday at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Que., a man jumped up to interrupt a journalist, who was asking a question.

“Can you please answer, on behalf of 700,000 in Quebec, why you couldn’t answer a single question in English?” he said.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau confronted by emotional Ontario woman upset over cost of hydro bill

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had his media availability interrupted on Wednesday by an individual demanding to know why he chose to answer only in French during a town hall Q&A in Sherbrooke, Que. on Tuesday.
Click to play video: 'Trudeau defends decision to answer only in French at town hall' Trudeau defends decision to answer only in French at town hall
Trudeau defends decision to answer only in French at town hall – Jan 18, 2017

Trudeau defended his decision, pointing out he purposely answered a question that was asked in French in Peterborough a few days earlier in English.

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“It is important for me to demonstrate that I defend bilingualism,” he told the man.

“I was glad to take questions in English [at the town hall in Quebec], surprised, to be quite frank that there were as many questions in English at the town hall, but pleased that so many people from different backgrounds came out.”

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau makes stops in Lac-Mégantic, Sherbrooke and Granby as Canada tour continues

Trudeau continued on to say he defends bilingualism across the country.

“I believe deeply in it, but I also understand the importance of speaking French, of defending the French language in Quebec,” he said.

“That is something I will continue to do while respecting minority language rights across the country.”

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He continued in French, saying that he could use both languages, speaking partly in French and English, but insisted his priority is to take as many questions as possible.

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“We have to always respect the reality and the difficulties faced by linguistic minorities,” Trudeau said.

“Next time, I will make sure to bring a little more bilingualism with me, no matter where I am in the country.”

WATCH BELOW: Trudeau’s cross-country tour

En français, s’il vous plaît

The prime minister’s decision to speak only in French came after a woman asked, in English, if there were any plans for the federal government to do anything to help anglophones seeking mental health services, since they are often only available in French.

Trudeau made a point of speaking exclusively in French throughout the town hall, despite some people asking questions in English.

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READ MORE: ‘Because it’s 2015’: Trudeau’s gender-equal cabinet makes headlines around world, social media

The cross-country tour, which started last week in eastern Ontario, continues in Quebec Wednesday, with stops in Sherbrooke and Granby.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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