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QUESTION PERIOD — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Bilingual Proficiency Requirements

February 8, 2022

Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Leader, on January 31, Sean Fraser, the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, held a press conference on the backlog of 1.8 million immigration files waiting to be processed. He held a press conference in English only and politely asked a francophone journalist to ask his question in English.

Is the Prime Minister aware of this incident? Does the Prime Minister intend to apologize to Canadians for this unilingual anglophone press conference?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ - ]

Thank you for that question, honourable colleague. Minister Fraser understands the importance of Canada’s linguistic duality. I am told that he is working very hard each week to learn and improve on his French. He has made a lot of progress since 2015.

Not to make excuses, but to put things into context, the entire press conference was translated into French, as is every press conference held in the National Press Theatre.

How can the Prime Minister criticize Air Canada’s CEO for speaking in English only at a press conference and asking journalists to ask questions in English only, while at the same time accepting such behaviour from his minister?

Senator Gold [ - ]

As I said, Minister Fraser is making efforts to improve his French. The government and the Prime Minister still have confidence in him.

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