Canada’s official languages watchdog is opening an investigation after receiving more than 400 complaints in nearly two weeks about the appointment of prominent Inuk leader Mary Simon as governor general.

Simon does not speak French, which is enshrined in the Official Languages Act as one of Canada’s two official languages. She has said she is committed to learning French on the job but was denied the chance to do so while attending a federal day school in her youth.

She speaks English and Inuktitut.

Read more:
Almost 200 complaints lodged over new GG’s lack of French, language czar says

“The appointment of a governor general who is not fluent in both official languages has elicited many reactions across the country since her appointment was announced on July 6th,” Raymond Théberge said in a statement announcing the investigation.

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He said while he understands Canada is “at a turning point” in the country’s steps towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, the number of complaints received over Simon’s lack of French continues to mount.

“I have also received a significant number of complaints on this matter—over 400 to date,” he said.

“In my opinion, this demonstrates that linguistic duality continues to be an important value for Canadians. We have analyzed the complaints received to date and have determined that they are admissible. I will therefore be investigating the matter.”

Simon is set to be sworn in as governor general on July 26.

More to come.

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