Governor General and Air Canada CEO Trigger Explosion of Complains to Languages Czar

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
June 7, 2022 Updated: June 7, 2022

Canada’s Governor General and Air Canada’s CEO were connected to an explosion of complaints to the official languages commissioner in the past year.

Commissioner Raymond Théberge released his report today indicating his office received 5,409 complaints during the 2021-22 period, compared to a number that fluctuated between 415 and 1,870 in the nine preceding years.

He says he received 1,346 complaints following the July appointment of Gov. Gen. Mary Simon—the first indigenous person named to the role—due to her poor grasp of the French language. Simon, meanwhile, is fluent in English and Inuktitut.

Théberge’s office also received 2,680 complaints after Michael Rousseau, the CEO of Air Canada—which is subject to the Official Languages Act—gave a speech in November during which he barely spoke French.

The commissioner is recommending that a committee analyze whether knowledge of French and English should be a prerequisite for people being considered for high-ranking posts in the public sector and for posts that require nomination by government officials.

Théberge says it is an “error” to name people who can’t speak both official languages to positions of authority.