After long suggesting he didn’t need to know French to be prime minister, unofficial Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary says he is taking French lessons and getting better every day.
O’Leary told CTV’s Power Play last year that he thought Quebeckers would “give him a pass on the language issue.” But he now vows to be proficient “by the time I have to debate Trudeau two years from now.”
“I want to learn it. I’ve been committed to do it,” he told CTV’s Question Period.
“People say I can’t speak French,” O’Leary added. “C’est pas vrai. Mon francais deviens (sic) mieux chaque jour.”
That rare public statement in his second language translates to “it’s not true, my French becomes better every day.”
O’Leary also joked that there are “three official languages” in Canada: English, French and “the language of jobs.” He said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will never speak the language of jobs.
Several of the candidates vying to replace Stephen Harper do speak fluent French, including Steven Blaney, Maxime Bernier, Chris Alexander, Pierre Lemieux, Rick Peterson and Andrew Scheer.
Candidates Erin O’Toole and Michael Chong can speak intermediate French, while Lisa Raitt and Deepak Obhrai have said they’re taking lessons.
Bernier has said he believes the party cannot win without a “leader who can speak in French to Quebecers."
The party holds 12 of Quebec’s 78 seats. Four of the members from Quebec have endorsed Saskatchewan’s Andrew Scheer and two have endorsed fellow Quebec MP Maxime Bernier. Both men are bilingual.