NEW BRUNSWICK PARTY LEADERS CLASH IN TELEVISED DEBATE OVER BILINGUALISM
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.