10/27/2011 02:19 EDT | Updated 12/27/2011 05:12 EST

N.B. premier says language shouldn't disqualify Ferguson as auditor general

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick Premier David Alward believes Michael Ferguson would make an excellent auditor general for Canada, whether or not he's able to speak French.

Federal opposition parties are refusing to endorse Ferguson's nomination because he only speaks English.

But Alward said Thursday that Ferguson is more than qualified for the job.

"I value the integrity and credibility of the man and the quality of the work he completed when he was auditor general in New Brunswick," he said. "He did an outstanding job with the work that he did as auditor general here and he is doing an outstanding job as deputy minister of finance."

Alward said Ferguson is surrounded by good staff, so language has not been an issue.

However, he added that Ferguson is taking French lessons and his ability to speak the language would be a benefit.

The Harper government insists Ferguson was chosen on merit and is learning French. However, that's not good enough for the New Democrats, Liberals, and Bloc Quebecois.

New Democrat Yvon Godin said Ferguson spent four years as the auditor general of New Brunswick, Canada's only officially bilingual province. He said if Ferguson didn't learn French during that four-year posting, there's not much hope he'll learn it now.