Bilingualism discussed in NB leaders debate

The politically sensitive issue of bilingualism drew both heated discussion and a few laughs during the second televised leaders' debate of the New Brunswick election campaign.

The six party leaders squared off on a community centre stage in Fredericton in the 90-minute debate carried on Rogers TV Friday night.

They were asked if the premier of Canada's only officially bilingual province needs to speak both languages.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs replied he supports bilingualism and is working to learn French, but it shouldn't be the only qualification.

Gerald Bourque, the leader of the KISS party, or Keep It Simple Solutions said with modern translation it's not necessary for the premier to speak both English and French.

He joked that if you want a bilingual leader, vote for Liberal Premier Brian Gallant as he'll run up the debt in both official languages.

Gallant later acknowledged the comment was ``pretty funny,'' but stressed it's important for the premier and cabinet ministers to demonstrate to both communities that they take their language seriously.

The next leaders' debate will be September 20th on CTV, with the election set for the 24th.