The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - NEWS - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

New Brunswick party lead­ers clashed over lan­guage in their sec­ond tele­vised de­bate on Fri­day night, de­bat­ing whether the pre­mier of Canada’s only of­fi­cially bilin­gual prov­ince needs to speak both French and English.

“I agree [bilingualism] is a very im­por­tant skill. It’s not the only skill you need to bring to the pre­mier’s of­fice,” said Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Blaine Higgs, who isn’t flu­ent in French.

“We’ve seen that we need more than that in or­der to fix our prov­ince.”

Mr. Higgs, Lib­eral Pre­mier Brian Gal­lant and the other party lead­ers squared off on a com­mu­nity cen­tre stage in Fred­er­ic­ton in a 90-minute de­bate car­ried on Rogers TV.

Ger­ald Bourque, the folksy, cow­boy-hat­ted leader of the KISS party – or Keep It Sim­ple So­lu­tions – said with mod­ern trans­la­tion it’s not nec­es­sary for the pre­mier to speak both English and French.

He joked that if you want a bilin­gual pre­mier, you should vote for Mr. Gal­lant.

“He’s putting this prov­ince into debt in both of­fi­cial lan­guages,” Mr. Bourque quipped, draw­ing laugh­ter from the au­di­ence of staff and sup­port­ers for all the par­ties.

The New Democrats’ Jen­nifer McKen­zie said she’s try­ing to learn French and said it’s im­por­tant.

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