09/08/2015 04:36 EDT | Updated 09/08/2016 05:12 EDT

Conservatives Defend Montreal Candidate Who Struggles With French

ZAMIR Mohammad/Twitter
The Conservative Party is standing behind a Montreal candidate who struggled to speak in French, saying he has a good handle on the language.

On his English-only website, conservative candidate Mohammad Zamir, who is running in LaSalle-Émard-Verdun, describes his French level as "elementary."

After a brief interview over the phone with the candidate, the Canadian Press raised questions about Zamir's fluency.

But the Conservative Party insisted that Zamir speaks French very well and it asked for a delay before arranging a second interview.

According to the Canadian Press, Zamir struggled to speak French in the second interview as well. 

The candidate, who takes a French course three times a week, said he believes his French is good enough to be able to communicate with voters in his riding.

Bloc Québécois candidate calls situation 'unacceptable'

When the riding's Bloc Québécois candidate was told about the situation on Monday, he called it "unacceptable."

"In Quebec, you don't have have a choice. You can speak English, which I have nothing against, but you have to respect the Quebec population and speak the official language," Gilbert Paquette said.

Paquette said he won't be asking Zamir to step down.

He said he'd rather let the citizens of LaSalle-Émard-Verdun decide for themselves.

"It's up to them to decide if it's acceptable to send a deputy to Ottawa who doesn't speak the language of the majority of the citizens in his riding," said Paquette.

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