Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently called a woman to apologize after answering her English question in French during a town hall session in Sherbrooke, Que.
Judy Ross asked whether there were any plans for the federal government to help Quebec anglophones seeking mental health services, since they are often only available in French, at a town hall on Jan. 17.
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Trudeau chose to answer the woman’s concern in French only.
The prime minister would eventually apologize to anglophones in the province of Quebec and also picked up the phone to call Ross to apologize.
Ross says she never expected Justin Trudeau to phone her personally to say he was sorry.
“It’s so far beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined,” Ross said.
“He apologized about the language part, then we moved to mental health topics and issues,” she added.
Trudeau phoned her on the morning of Feb. 3, a couple of weeks after he hosted the Sherbrooke town hall.
“He picked me out to ask a question and it didn’t go the way I expected,” Ross said about the town hall.
Trudeau chose to answer everyone’s questions in French only, regardless of what language they were asked in.
“By the time the evening was finished and he hadn’t answered anyone with a word of English,” Ross said.
“I was feeling kind of annoyed.”
Trudeau was heavily criticized for his decision to speak only in French.
On Monday, he formally apologized to the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).
“Canada is a bilingual country and as such, I recognize that I should’ve answered questions in the language they were asked,” he wrote.
“I really thought that he was speaking to me from the heart, that his apology was very genuine,” Ross remarked.
Ross, a mental health advocate, said the incident has given her an opportunity to shine light on mental health issues, and to truly drive her message to the Prime Minister.
It even landed her a face-to-face meeting with her MP Marie-Claude Bibeau, a member of Trudeau’s cabinet.
“He was really forgiven by the time I spoke to Bibeau,” Ross said amidst laughter.