The Prime Minister at year’s end

From a pair of year-end interviews, the Prime Minister discusses the NHL lockout, Newtown, proroguing Parliament and the auditor general’s language skills.

Although Harper defended his decision to appoint Michael Ferguson auditor general even though he was not bilingual, Harper said he doesn’t want to do it again. “I admit that it is my responsibility to avoid similar circumstances in the future and I hope that Quebecers and francophones don’t doubt my commitment to the French language and our two national languages.” But while Harper said it is important for the head of an organization to be bilingual, he doesn’t feel all senior members of an organization have to speak both languages. For example, Harper said Canada’s prime minister and the chief justice of the Supreme Court should be bilingual but doesn’t believe every Supreme Court justice and every cabinet minister has to speak both English and French.

Harper shied away from commenting on Quebec’s PQ government’s plans to beef up the French Language Charter, Bill 101, saying it is provincial jurisdiction, and he defended his own track record on language. “Honestly, as prime minister, I have given a greater place to French than any other prime minister in the history of this country.”