Friday, August 26, 2011

On entry barriers

Following up on this post drawing some first outlines of the NDP leadership race, I'll deal briefly with one of the points that has surfaced in most media coverage: namely, whether candidates should have to be bilingual.

For the most part, every three-line summary of a candidate who isn't bilingual has seen fit to mention that fact in connection with the NDP's need to maintain its support in Quebec. And that's an understandable link to draw, particularly before we've seen much out of any of the candidates.

But ultimately, it's the NDP's members who will need to vote as to who's best suited to lead the party - with bilingualism serving as a factor worth taking into account, but hopefully not a disqualifying one for candidates who have other desirable qualities. And if any unilingual candidate can win over a majority of the NDP's members (including a new contingent from Quebec) even in the face of media hand-wringing, then that should speak well of the candidate's ability to lead the NDP into government after three years to get better acquainted with a second language.


  1. Malcolm+11:41 a.m.

    I respectfully disagree.  In modern Canada, it is simply unthinkable that a credible national party would not be reasonably fluent in both official languages.  This is not something where bilingualism is an asset.  It is an irrevocable job requirement.

  2. Realistically, there hasn't been a unilingual prime minister elected in 50 years.

    We're electing a prime minister here.

    It's a requirement of the job.