Quebec premier wants to identify CEOs who don’t speak French, persuade them to learn

The Quebec government will work to identify leaders of companies based in the province who don’t speak French and try to persuade them to learn the language, Premier François Legault said Friday. His comments came in reaction to the recent admissions by the CEOs of two major Montreal-based companies that they speak little French. Legault said corporate leaders in Quebec should be able to speak the language of the majority in the province, adding that his government was “looking at different approaches to ensure this.” On Thursday, Ian Edwards, head of engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, cancelled an upcoming speech to a local business group, saying he wanted time to improve his French. In a letter to the Canadian Club of Montreal, Edwards said he doesn’t speak French well despite living in Quebec since 2014. That move came after Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau spoke little French in a Nov. 3 speech to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and then told reporters he didn’t need to learn the language to get by in Quebec’s largest city. His comments drew strong condemnation from politicians and media pundits across the province.

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