Language Commissioner to Investigate John Baird’s Tweets

It is widely speculated that the Canadian cabinet ministers might soon have to request Twitter to extend its 140-character limit so they could ensure every tweet is posted in both French and English. According to a report published by La Presse on Wednesday, the office of federal Language Commissioner, Graham Fraser, has confirmed to be investigating Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s Twitter account over complaints that the messages posted on the social media account aren’t equally split between English and French.

However, the bone of contention in the investigation is the question about whether the messages posted on Mr. Baird’s twitter account are in the capacity of government official or his personal views, since the latter would exclude it from the federal language laws. Mr. Baird tweets at @HonJohnBaird, which describes him as “Canada’s Foreign Minister, and MP for Ottawa West-Nepean.” In his remarks, spokesperson for Mr. Fraser, Nelson Kalil, stated that “it will be particularly useful for us with regards to, ‘What are the parameters, what are the regulations here?’” while acknowledging that the social media still contains “a lot grey zones.”

A letter confirming the news about investigation, dated on July 31, came as a surprise to Baird’s office. The investigation will most importantly decide whether his Twitter account falls outside the Official Languages Act. Mr. Baird’s spokesman, Rick Roth, claimed that “the minister’s personal Twitter account is just that, his personal account,” adding “that said, he tweets from that account in both of Canada’s official languages.”

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