The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, recently discussed the limitation of the having a government which can serve bilingually, he alleged that officers of Parliament, the prime minister and the chief justice of the Supreme Court are among the people who shall at least speak both the languages. Harper was giving an interview to a French-language television station TVA, where he admitted to support “institutional” bilingualism over “individual” bilingualism and stated that only certain jobs shall need proficiency in both official languages.
He stated that “I think for someone who is at the head of an organization in our system, they must be bilingual, but it’s not the case with all the members of an institution.” He explained that “for example, I seriously think that the prime minister needs to be bilingual but does every cabinet minister need to be bilingual? I think that’s too much. Does the chief justice of the Supreme Court need to be bilingual? Absolutely. Is it important for each judge, I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s not fair.”
Harper also justified his recent appointment of unilingual Auditor General Michael Ferguson, claiming that he was the most qualified candidate at the time. Harper took the opportunity for sending a message to all Quebecers, saying that “as I’ve said many times, the origin of the Canadian state is with (Samuel de) Champlain, his arrival in Quebec, and we have this heritage and it’s my duty to respect it and to protect it.”
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