Kevin O'Leary's fluency in 'jobs' not good enough for Quebecers: Bernier

Kevin O’Leary may claim to speak the language of jobs, but until he learns French the businessman-cum-reality-TV star isn’t likely to grasp Quebec politics, according to Maxime Bernier.

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier attacks potential leadership rival for lack of French-speaking skills

Kevin O'Leary claims his ability to speak 'jobs' compensates for his lack of French. (Sean Kilpatrick and Jeffrey Kirk/The Canadian Press)

Kevin O'Leary may claim to speak the language of jobs, but until he learns French the businessman-cum-reality-TV star isn't likely to grasp the needs of Quebecers.

That was the salvo launched this weekend by Conservative MP Maxime Bernier at his potential rival for the Conservative Party's leadership.

O'Leary has been hinting in recent interviews that he will seek to replace Stephen Harper.

The former Dragon's Den personality has admitted that he can't speak French. But he also believes that won't be an obstacle to becoming prime minister, because of his ability to speak another important language.

"People tell me you can't win an election if you don't speak [French]," O'Leary told CBC News.

"I think if you speak jobs and the economy you can win every election."

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At a weekend meeting of conservative luminaries in Ottawa, Bernier pounced on O'Leary's lack of French.  

Sure, Quebecers are happy to speak English to tourists, Bernier told the Manning Centre Conference on Saturday.

"But that doesn't mean you can govern Italy without speaking Italian," he said.

The Conservative MP, who represents a region just south of Quebec City, then took to Twitter to reinforce his point.

Bernier told the conference that he would be a better bet to replace Harper.

"I would be a candidate who brings people together," he said.


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