MONTREAL -- Protesters descended on Air Canada's Montreal headquarters Saturday, angered at CEO Michael Rousseau's inability to converse in French.

"The Society Saint-Jean-Baptiste (SSJB) of Montreal is demanding more than an apology from the president and CEO of Air Canada, Mr. Michael Rousseau," protest organizers say, adding that they are demanding Rousseau be removed from the company.

The SSJB points out that Air Canada's Language Action Plan says the airline is proud to provide services in both official languages and is a leader among Canadian companies in promoting bilingualism.

"Showing no real leadership on bilingualism, Mr. Rousseau is going against his own language policy," the SSJB says. "As a unilingual Anglophone, he can no longer assume the position of president and CEO."

About 100 protesters gathered on a rainy Saturday afternoon in support of the SSJB's position.

"The fact that it is possible for a unilingual English person to reach the highest management position of a Canadian company whose head office is in Quebec is beyond comprehension," said SSJB president Marie-Anne Alepin.

Rousseau gave a 26-minute speech almost exclusively in English at Montreal's Chamber of Commerce last week.

Rousseau, who has lived in Montreal for the last 14 years, said he was "able to live in Montreal without speaking French and I think that’s a testament to the City of Montreal."

He also stated that he simply did not have time to learn the language.

Rousseau apologized one day later, expressing his desire to improve his French-language skills.

"In no way did I mean to show disrespect for Quebecers and francophones across the country. I apologize to those who were offended by my remarks," he said.

In a letter written in French to Air Canada employees, Rousseau said he "regrets" the comments he made about his inability to speak or understand one of Canada's official language, despite living in Quebec for 14 years.

"People who know me well know that these words do not reflect my values and beliefs," he said. "I take and accept personal criticism. However, criticism of our employees and our practices hurts me deeply when you work so hard to serve our customers."

Rousseau went on to confirm he has hired a private tutor and his "French learning" has already begun.

In addition, he says the company's official languages practices will be reviewed and strengthened.

"I will personally oversee this process to ensure that any required actions are implemented," Rousseau said.

-- With files from CTV's Rachel Lau