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

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government will work to identify presidents of companies based in the province who don’t speak French and try to persuade them to learn the language.

Speaking to reporters in Shawinigan today, Legault said he believes only a small minority of companies headquartered in Quebec are led by people who don’t speak French.

Legault, whose government has introduced a bill to strengthen Quebec’s language law, says it’s important for the CEOs of Quebec-based companies to speak French.

The statement comes after Ian Edwards, head of Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, cancelled a speech to a local business group scheduled for next week, saying he wanted time to improve his French.

Edwards doesn’t speak French well despite living in Quebec since 2014.

Last week, Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau ignited a political firestorm by speaking very little French in a speech to Montreal’s Chamber of Commerce and then telling reporters he didn’t need to learn the language to get by in Quebec’s largest city.

— This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 12, 2021.