NDP wants only bilingual candidates for key positions in Canadian government

Thursday, May 03, 2012

From here in French today. I mostly agree with the Commissioner of Official Languages here given that bilingualism is a requirement to do business on the federal level. On the other hand, the idea of a unilingual candidate being hired on the condition that he learn the language within a year is something that is common among government employees - CSIS, for example, where a new hire either is bilingual and gets a full salary, or is unilingual and starts at a slightly lower level but receives lots of training and must become bilingual within a year. For a top-level position like this though a one-year trial period is probably a bit iffy.
Only bilingual candidates should be able to fill positions of officers in Parliament, according to the official opposition (the NDP), which filed a bill to that effect in the Commons on Tuesday.
This initiative by the party comes as the Commissioner of Official Languages denounces in a new report the nomination of Michael Ferguson, a unilingual anglophone, to the post of Auditor General. 
According to Graham Fraser the government of Stephen Harper has violated the law on official languages by going ahead with such an appointment, criticized in unison by opposition parties in Ottawa. 
The NDP wants to keep this situation from happening by establishing clear linguistic prerequisites for ten key positions, including that of Auditor General but also that of Chief Electoral Officer, as well as commissioners including those for privacy, information, ethics, and lobbying... 
In his report prepared to respond to the complaints on the unilingualism of Mr. Ferguson, Graham Fraser insisted that the mastery of two languages is necessary for the auditor general to do his job. 
"The Auditor General must daily be able to read and approve documents prepared for his attention and of a complex nature: reports, briefing notes, notices and other correspondences", he wrote... 
Mr. Ferguson has promised to learn French in one year.

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