February 20, 2017 3:01 pm
Updated: February 20, 2017 4:48 pm

Justin Trudeau apologizes for answering English question in French at Sherbrooke town hall

WATCH ABOVE: A West Island man using Facebook to express his disappointment when Prime Minister chose to answer an Anglophone Quebec’ers question in French has sparked debate. Global’s Tim Sargeant reports.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized to English language minority communities for answering an English question in French during a town hall session in Sherbrooke, Que.

A woman had asked — in English — if there were any plans for the federal government to do anything to help anglophones in the province of Quebec seeking mental health services, since they are often only available in French.

Trudeau chose to answer the woman’s concern in French only.

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READ MORE: Justin Trudeau’s French-only responses at town hall under investigation by commissioner 

“I have stood up my entire life for our linguistic minorities across the country,” Trudeau wrote in a letter, adding that he regrets his actions at the town hall.

“Canada is a bilingual country, and as such, I recognize that I should have answered questions in the language they were asked,” the letter continues.

Trudeau, who grew up in a bilingual household, vowed to speak to minority language communities in their own language from now on.

“Our two official languages are part of my cultural heritage,” he wrote.

READ MORE: Quebecer slams Justin Trudeau on Facebook for French-only town hall responses

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) wrote in a statement that it was pleased to receive Trudeau’s letter of apology.

“It was clear our Prime Minister understands the importance of speaking to minority language communities in their own language,” the organization said.

QCGN said it has reached out to the Prime Minister to discuss the “special challenges English-speaking Quebec faces.”

WATCH BELOW: Justin Trudeau defends decision to only speak French at Sherbrooke town hall

The town hall incident, which took place in January, was put under investigation by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

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

“Part IV of the Official Languages Act is linked to these complaints, in terms of the obligation of the federal government to communicate and offer services to the public in both official languages,” the commissioner’s office told Global News in an email on Jan. 19.

READ BELOW: Justin Trudeau’s full letter of apology to QCGN

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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