Great moments in airline law

by Walter Olson on July 15, 2011

From Canada’s National Post:

The Federal Court of Canada on Wednesday ordered Air Canada to pay $12,000 to Ottawa French-language rights crusader Michel Thibodeau in part because when he asked an English-speaking flight attendant for 7Up in May 12 of 2009, he got Sprite.

“The applicants’ language rights are clearly very important to them and the violation of their rights caused them a moral prejudice, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of their vacation,” Justice Marie-Josee Bedard wrote in her judgment.

The bulk of the lawsuit, filed by a frequent language-law litigant, contended that the airline failed to assign French-speaking flight attendants to several flights and failed to make a baggage announcement in French despite a federal law requiring alternative-language use “where there is significant demand for those services in the minority language and where it is warranted by the nature of the office or facility.”

{ 7 comments }

1 Black Death 07.15.11 at 10:33 am

I’ve visited Ottawa, which is Ontario, and everything is bilingual. But walk across the bridge, into Quebec, and it’s French only. Guess there are no English-speakers over there. Now I’m an American, and Canada’s language problems are of no concern to me, except for this take-home lesson – “We Don’t Want to Go There.”

2 mojo 07.15.11 at 1:09 pm

In Quebec, try the phrase “Well, if I can’t understand you, I guess it’s free.”

They suddenly discover that forgotten language.

3 Hugo S. Cunningham 07.15.11 at 6:51 pm

The award sounds a bit silly to most followers of this blog, but in Canada’s defense, notice the relatively modest amount. A US disabilities jackpot could run to six or seven figures.
(I recall reading a similar remark about social-democratic Western Europe: people can get three or four-figure awards more easily than in the USA, balm perhaps for hurt feelings, but not a lifetime substitute for work.)

4 Adam 07.15.11 at 7:27 pm

I’m an English only speaking resident of Ottawa, and I was born in Montreal. This isn’t just about language, it’s a culture war, the French have usurped our government bureaucracy, blackmailed all of Canada into sending 8 billions of our taxpayer dollars to Quebec in “equalization payments”, 1 billion more than all other provinces combined, they waste 2 billion annually to comply with the Official Languages Act, and they have all but outlawed English in Quebec and they drove the English out! We won the war against the French, yet we are the ones conquered! You Americans won the war against the Mexicans, don’t let them do to you as they’ve done to us!

5 Mannie 07.16.11 at 11:32 am

Diversity is strength!

6 Malcolm Smith 07.17.11 at 8:53 pm

I can speak French – not necessarily fluently – and did so when travelling through francophone Africa. But as a matter of principle, I never used the language in Quebec.

7 AMcA 07.18.11 at 2:57 pm

I fly United. I always ask for 7up, they always say Sprite. They don’t stock both, and why would they?

So, let me ask: what were the damages, if he was going to get Sprite, no matter what?

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