CN hires Montreal research firm to help recruit French-speaking director

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To denounce the absence of Francophones on CN’s board of directors, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society of Montreal placed a giant lemon on Friday in front of the company’s head office.

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A month after sparking a backlash for failing to appoint a single French-speaking director to its board, Canadian National Railway Company says it has hired a Montreal search firm to help recruit .

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Canada’s largest rail operator intends to appoint the new French-speaking and Quebec director over the next few months, the Montreal-based company said Friday evening in a statement. statement.

“CN takes this process very seriously,” newly elected Board Chair Shauneen Bruder said in the release. “It will be rigorous, of the highest integrity and consistent with our best-in-class governance principles.”

CN’s 2022 board slate, disclosed in a regulatory filing in April, includes several former railroad executives, none of whom are based in Quebec. The move drew scorn from the $420 billion Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, a major CN shareholder, which criticized the company for ignoring qualified French-speaking candidates in its own backyard.

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As a former Crown corporation until its privatization in 1995, Montreal-based CN is subject to Canada’s Official Languages ​​Act, although the legislation does not govern the company’s board of directors. ‘business.

“CN’s head office has been in Montreal for more than 100 years and the Board of Directors respects and is proud of the company’s rich history in Quebec, where the official language is French,” said Chief Legal Officer Sean. Finn Friday at the company’s annual meeting. .

This is not a view shared by French language activists – and some company employees.

To denounce the absence of Francophones on CN’s Board of Directors, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal placed a giant lemon outside the company’s headquarters earlier Friday.

“Quebec’s common and working language is French and its total absence from CN’s highest decision-making body shows a contempt for French speakers,” said SSJB President Marie-Anne Alepin.

Canadian Press contributed to this story

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