Friday, February 17, 2006

Bilingualism is a requirement for national leadership

A recent Globe article (see below) focuses on a Liberal MPs insistence of a bilingual leader.

I'd have to agree. I'm not quite sure how strong Ken's french is, but I'm sure most of the anglo potential leadership candidates (definitely including Brison, Stronach, and Bennett) will have to sharpen up their second language.

The biggest thing going for Dryden in Quebec is his recognition there and the fact that he lived there for a significant portion of his life. He will forever be the all-star/Hall of Fame Montreal Canadiens goalie, but more than that, he has a chance to become Prime Minister of Canada.

A job unlike anything in this country - to make a difference, improve people's lives and gets to work to build his national endeavour. Let's hope he does it!

Here's the article I promised...

Next Liberal leader 'must be bilingual,' key MP says

OTTAWA -- The next leader of the Liberal Party has to be bilingual to connect with Quebeckers and francophones across the country, influential Quebec MPs say.

Echoing concerns expressed by many Liberals in private, Pablo Rodriguez, an MP and past Quebec wing president, said a unilingual anglophone cannot take the helm of the party that built Canada's official-languages policy.

"In my view, to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the person must be bilingual," he said. "The leader must not only be bilingual but be able to understand the cultural reality of Quebec and of francophones outside Quebec.

"For me, for the Liberal Party of Canada, which is the party of official languages, everyone who is not bilingual, I disqualify them."

Although that would seem to rule out some of the most prominent contenders -- former ministers Belinda Stronach and Scott Brison both struggle with French -- Mr. Rodriguez said candidates still have months to brush up.

AMontreal MP whose support will be sought because he is an organizer with a network of friends and associates in Quebec Liberal circles, Mr. Rodriguez was expressing a view that several MPs and Liberal Party organizers have whispered for days.

The issue of fluency in French has already arisen for Ms. Stronach -- who was embarrassed when she could not understand a question posed in French by a reporter from Montreal's La Presse newspaper.

"Are you considering jumping into the race for the Liberal leadership?" she was asked. Ms. Stronach asked for the question to be repeated in English, but the reporter did not bother. The incident, repeated on television in Quebec, prompted some to question whether her leadership bid could get out of the gate.

Ms. Stronach, who has been spending more time in Montreal, where she now keeps an apartment, is said to be trying to improve her French. But whether she can become fluent enough by the time the race heats up this summer is an open question.

And Mr. Brison, from Nova Scotia, was embarrassed when an e-mail from his assistant chastising him for not taking his French lessons seriously was accidentally sent to a large group of people and ended up in a newspaper.

Mr. Brison can answer some questions in laboured French, but is so far not proficient enough to deal with the parry and thrust of French-language debate.

St├ęphane Dion, a minister in the cabinets of both Jean Chr├ętien and Paul Martin who is considering a leadership bid, said it should not matter where a candidate is from, but bilingualism is essential.

"Bilingualism is, I would say, part of the job description," Mr. Dion said. "I cannot imagine a televised leaders debate during an election campaign where the Liberal candidate would not attend.

"The party of Pierre Elliott Trudeau cannot have a leader who cannot speak to a quarter of the Canadian population."

The Liberal Party's leadership race has become a wide-open affair with more than a dozen people testing the waters.

Several potential candidates from Ontario -- including former ministers Joe Volpe and John Godfrey, author and MP Michael Ignatieff, and former Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae -- speak French well. Others, like former public health minister Carolyn Bennett, speak functional, but not flawless French, while former social development minister Ken Dryden is sometimes rusty in his second language.

The roster is laden with as many as a dozen Toronto hopefuls, while only three from elsewhere -- Mr. Dion and two other ex-ministers, Martin Cauchon and Denis Coderre, are seriously considering bids.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Louise Arbour to be Kens winners

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES I think that a federal leader should be bilingual ,cause there are not only french speaking people in Quebec ,we're from N.B and their are a lot of french speaking in our province. The national view in my opinion think they have to make domations to keep Quebec in Canada cause they are a distinct nation , yea they just don't want to speak english.
We had to learn why can't they.

GG New Brunswick

10:07 AM  

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