Robert Chisholm dropped out the race to replace the late Jack Layton as the Federal leader of the New Democrats for a noble reason. The Nova Scotia NDP MP doesn’t speak French. The leader of the Official Opposition, who might just become our next Prime Minister, has to be proficient in both official languages.
There’s a lesson here for all Canadians. But especially for the Conservatives. Bilingualism is a Canadian value. And a prerequisite for a senior government position. Canadian bilingualism is here to stay.
Canadians made that point crystal clear 42 years ago, when bilingualism was enacted into law. They committed to building a bilingual nation. To protect the rights of both minority English and French-speaking communities.
In recent months Prime Minister Stephen Harper twice showed the Conservatives’ contempt of Quebec, the French language and Canada’s celebrated bilingualism. He appointed Michael Ferguson as Canada’s next auditor general, and appointed Angelo Persichilli as his director of communications.
Both men can’t speak French.