Senators ponder loosening French requirements for diplomats as Canada pivots to Asia

OTTAWA — A Senate committee studying the future of Canada's foreign service is pondering whether French needs to be a lower priority for recruiting diplomats.

The foreign-affairs committee is looking at whether Global Affairs Canada is successfully meeting the country's foreign policy goals.

Staff recruitment and the role language plays in the process are among the issues being investigated.

Sen. Yuen Pao Woo says than many from his province of British Columbia speak Asian languages, but not French.

He argues that people who don't speak French could be hired on the basis of their other skills and then have learning French prioritized once they join the foreign service.

Competency in both official languages is only required for some diplomatic jobs but statistics suggest it is lacking among the department's senior officials.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2022.

The Canadian Press