The new chief executive of Canadian National Railway Co. did not apologize on behalf of her company for the absence of francophones on its board of directors.

Tracy Robinson told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that she is committed to appointing a French-speaking director from Quebec very soon.

Speaking partly in French, a language she has been learning since joining the railway three months ago, Robinson told the standing committee on official languages that the Montreal-based rail company has identified a large number of qualified candidates.

She said CN is "leading by example," noting that two-thirds of senior executives and 90 per cent of executives working in Quebec speak French.

Canada's largest railway was plunged into a linguistic storm when the Montreal-based company failed to replace Quebec premier Jean Charest, who resigned to run for the federal Conservative party leadership, with another francophone.

Robinson is the second CEO from a company subject to the Official Languages Act to appear before the committee in recent months. Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau was put on the spot following an outcry over a speech he delivered mostly in English in Montreal last fall.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2022.