Preliminary report finds complaints about Air Canada CEO speech founded: commissioner

Click to play video: 'Protesters demand more than an apology from Air Canada over CEO’s inability to speak French'
Protesters demand more than an apology from Air Canada over CEO’s inability to speak French
WATCH: A small but passionate group of demonstrators gathered outside the Air Canada head office in in Montreal on Saturday afternoon to send a message: ‘Excuses aren’t enough.’ They’re referring to Air Canada’s president and CEO Michael Rousseau, who recently came under fire for a 26-minute speech almost exclusively in English at the Montreal Chamber of Commerce last week. Elizabeth Zogalis reports – Nov 13, 2021

The Commissioner of Official Languages says a preliminary report into whether a speech by the chief executive of Air Canada in November met the airline’s obligations under the Official Languages Act has established that the complaints are founded.

However, Raymond Théberge notes that the conclusions are not final and that the parties involved will have the chance to provide comment before the final report.

Read more: Air Canada CEO apologizes to parliamentary committee in first comments on poor French

Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau sparked an outcry last year when, following a speech almost entirely in English, he told reporters he did not need to learn French to get by in Montreal.

He later apologized and has since started taking French lessons.

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Read more: Canadian CEOs scramble to brush up on French after Air Canada PR blunder

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages received 2,680 complaints as of Feb. 28 about the speech to make it the most complaints ever received for a single case.

Théberge said in his statement that bilingualism is a crucial skill for leaders, especially those in institutions subject to the Official Languages Act.


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