Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in an armchair discussion in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau’s ‘bad’ French skills a reflection of his outsider status in Quebec: study

The author of the study discussed Trudeau’s linguistic abilities or those of other federal politicians

New research from an American academic concludes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spoken French is unfairly criticized in Quebec because he is seen as an outsider.

Prof. Yulia Bosworth of Binghamton University in New York suggests that when the province’s media elite attack Justin Trudeau’s French skills, they are less focused on the language and more on denying him membership in Quebec’s collective identity.

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Her article, “The ‘Bad’ French of Justin Trudeau: When Language, Ideology, and Politics Collide,” was published in the most recent issue of the American Review of Canadian Studies. The author studied 53 online news items, mostly between April 2013 and January 2017, that discussed Trudeau’s linguistic abilities or those of other federal politicians.

Bosworth, a professor of French linguistics, discovered a near-unanimous chorus of criticism of the quality of Trudeau’s French, which she says suggests a bias against Trudeau.

The author says Trudeau’s name evokes memories of his late father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, whose vision of a bilingual, united and multicultural Canada is rejected by many in Quebec’s media elite.

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She adds Quebec journalists are also indignant at how Trudeau views himself as bilingual and francophone, a cultural intersection she says is construed in the province as necessarily clashing.

The Canadian Press

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