Total Pageviews

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Paul Dewar's French connection

Paul Dewar's French connection

  Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS
New Democratic Party MP Paul Dewar speaks during question period in the House of Commons last September.


When it comes to the question of his ability to speak French, NDP leadership hopeful Paul Dewar compares two politicians who fared very differently in the last federal election: Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton.

“Michael Ignatieff spoke French very well and Jack showed how to connect with people. You have to do both,” said Dewar in an interview with Metro Thursday.

The Ottawa Centre MP first answered the question of how well he speaks French in halting French, and then repeated his answer in English. “I’m just saying that my French is getting better every day and I have a lot of people on the team that are bilingual and we speak French daily, but I also said the important piece is connecting with people, contact with people on the ground in Quebec.”

Dewar, running for the leadership of a party with 59 seats in Quebec, has faced a lot of criticism for not being fluently bilingual, some of it from rival Brian Topp’s campaign, which argued the NDP’s leader should speak to Canadians fluently in both official languages.

“From the beginning I was upfront about where I was at,” Dewar said. “I said this is what I’m going to work on, and I have been. I’m OK with that.”


Q: What would a Paul Dewar-led Opposition look like?

A: A strong team of people who are going to be working hard to represent the interests of everyday Canadians, looking at job creation, looking at how we can innovate and transform our economy into a greener economy.

Q: And a Paul Dewar government?

A: A government that would actually bring people in to participate in solving the problems that we all face. No one person, no one government is going to do this alone. We all have to be involved. Instead, what we’ve seen is government turning their back.

Q: (Your campaign manager) Dan MacKenzie said recently, in an email, “Paul’s French comprehension is excellent and like Jack, Paul knows how to connect with voters.” Can other qualities, like charm, for example, transcend linguistic barriers?

A: I think there’s a lot to be said about connecting directly with people and not being aloof. People might say (if) you don’t speak perfect French ... that somehow holds you back, but if you’re honest about it and you’re upfront about it and you’re showing that you’re working hard to improve — I know, I’ve had the experience — people open their arms and their hearts and their minds to engage with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment