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Appeal court reduces penalty Air Canada has to pay for English-only 7Up service

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Appeal court reduces penalty Air Canada has to pay for English-only 7Up service

Old 2nd Oct 2012, 19:28
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Appeal court reduces penalty Air Canada has to pay for English-only 7Up service

Good Afternoon All:

It would appear the long drawn out saga is coming to an end.

My only comment is this if it was YUL to FLL I could see that in a hollywood nano-second but YYZ ATL????

By Ian MacLeod, Ottawa Citizen October 2, 2012 11:02 AM



Air Canada successfully argued to have the penalty it has to pay to an Orléans family for not providing bilingual service to $3,000 from $12,000.
Photograph by: Andrew Vaughan , THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — Air Canada has won a partial reprieve in its legal battle with an Ottawa couple who successfully sued the airline over its failure to serve them in French, including not being able to order a can of 7Up from a unilingual flight attendant.
The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned parts of a 2011 federal court judgment that found the airline and its contract carrier, Jazz, breached the Official Languages Act (OLA) on four occasions in 2009 involving Michel and Lynda Thibodeau of Orléans.
The appellate court has upheld the main ruling — Air Canada has always acknowledged the four breaches — but slashed the monetary damages the lower court awarded to Thibodeaus, to $3,000 from $12,000. The couple originally sought $500,000 in exemplary and punitive damages.
The high court also overturned the lower court’s finding that Air Canada has “systemic problem,” complying with federal linguistic requirements. Because of that, Air Canada no longer has to comply with the lower court’s order directing it to introduce a monitoring system to track potential violations of its language act obligations.
Even so, as a result of the initial federal court ruling, Air Canada has devised and is going ahead with an action plan to improve its delivery of bilingual services under the language act.
The airline says it is, “satisfied that the Court of Appeal recognized the effort recognized the efforts and money invested by Air Canada to meet our obligations under the OLA.
“The court also recognized that we have already undertaken substantial corrective actions to ensure the bilingual capabilities of our staff both at Air Canada and Jazz,” spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick wrote in an email.
The Thibodeaus could not be reached.
The couple initially complained of eight instances in 2009 in which they did not receive services in French at airports in Atlanta, Toronto and Ottawa and aboard three related Air Canada Jazz flights between Canada and the United States.
The languages act requires Air Canada, a former Crown corporation, to communicate and provide services in both official languages in the National Capital Region and elsewhere in Canada, “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.”
In an affidavit filed in the federal court case, the fluently bilingual Michel Thibodeau highlighted the lack of bilingual staff on a flight from Charlotte to Toronto on May 12, 2009.
“At 11:46 a.m., the flight attendant came by and asked my wife and me, ‘Anything to drink folks?’ Lynda said, “Rien merci” [No, thank you]. I told her “Je vais prendre un 7Up s.v.p.” [I would like a 7Up, please]. She served me a Sprite.”
A similar incident happened with Michel Thibodeau in 2000 when he tried to order a 7Up from a unilingual English flight attendant on an Air Ontario flight from Montreal to Ottawa. He filed suit in Federal Court for $525,000 in damages.
The court upheld his complaint, ordered the airline to make a formal apology and pay him $5,375.95. Thibodeau was later honoured by the French-language rights group, Imperatif français.
For its part in the latest case, Air Canada admitted to the court it is not always able to provide all services in French as required by the Act, but that breaches are occasional and do not reveal a systemic problem, as alleged by the Thibodeaus.
Still, the airline has sent of a letter of apology to the couple and admitted to these four breaches in the case:
No services in French on board flight AC8627 flying the Toronto-Atlanta route on Jan. 23, 2009 though there was a significant demand; no translation of an announcement made in English by the pilot concerning the arrival time and weather on flight AC8622 flying the Atlanta-Toronto route on Feb. 1, 2009; no services in French on board flight AC7923 flying the Charlotte-Toronto route on May 12, 2009; an announcement made in English only to passengers concerning baggage collection at the Toronto airport on May 12, 2009.
In its reasons for judgment, Federal Court of Appeal Justice Johanne Trudel, writing for the three-member panel, said the federal court erred when it awarded $4,500 in damages to each of the Thibodeaus based on a section of international air carrier convention, to which Canada is a signatory.
Because the Thibodeuas’ original court action was launched under the Official Languages Act, only that legislation applies when it comes to assessing monetary damages, the court reasoned.
In striking down the finding that Air Canada has “systemic problems” meeting its linguistic obligations, the appellate court said the evidence for such as finding was “vague”.
As well, the monitoring order was imprecise and therefore, “its implementation would be problematic for the appellant, and for any court called to intervene in the event of a future dispute.”
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Read more: Appeal court reduces penalty Air Canada has to pay for English-only 7Up service
a330pilotcanada is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2012, 13:27
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the fluently bilingual Michel Thibodeau
Kind of says it all, doesn't it?
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Old 3rd Oct 2012, 15:31
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Reminded me why I left Quebec.

Last edited by Rollingthunder; 3rd Oct 2012 at 15:32.
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Old 3rd Oct 2012, 16:57
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They sent him an apology letter? Should have sent him a letter telling him he is no longer welcome on any AC flight and to piss off.
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Old 5th Oct 2012, 07:34
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Ditto

Reminds me why I left AC & Canada.

CK
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Old 7th Oct 2012, 16:43
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I was on an AC flight the other day, an elderly French couple sat opposite me, they were served in English the whole flight and spoke to the F/A's in English. You can bet that they were more than happy with the service and there will be no law suit for English only service.
Seems it isn't a language issue, but a Quebec issue...
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Old 8th Oct 2012, 20:32
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Appeal Court reduces penalty

I have never flown AC nor have I visited Canada, but I do have 40 years of airline service in various countries. Please pardon my ignorance regarding the language problems that led to this case and appeal, but why should AC or any other Canadian Airline have to legally have French speakers on their flights? I always believed that the official language of Canada was English. If passengers are of the belief that there should only be French spoken to them, why don't they get on a service to Paris where they can speak and listen to the French language in any part of that Country? A serious question, not meant to offend anyone.
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Old 8th Oct 2012, 21:38
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I always believed that the official language of Canada was English.
French and English are both official languages, although whether it is really 'French' is debatable. I was corrected on a recent visit to Toronto when I said that I thought French was the official language only in Quebec, both languages are official nationwide.
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Old 10th Oct 2012, 01:49
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Both English and French are official languages. Intgerestingly, the only officially bilingual privince in Canada is New Brunswick; not Quebec.
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Old 10th Oct 2012, 13:03
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In an affidavit filed in the federal court case, the fluently bilingual Michel Thibodeau highlighted the lack of bilingual staff on a flight from Charlotte to Toronto on May 12, 2009.
“At 11:46 a.m., the flight attendant came by and asked my wife and me, ‘Anything to drink folks?’ Lynda said, “Rien merci” [No, thank you]. I told her “Je vais prendre un 7Up s.v.p.” [I would like a 7Up, please]. She served me a Sprite.”
A similar incident happened with Michel Thibodeau in 2000 when he tried to order a 7Up from a unilingual English flight attendant on an Air Ontario flight from Montreal to Ottawa. He filed suit in Federal Court for $525,000 in damages.

To the best of my knowledge Air Canada does not serve 7UP but offers Sprite instead not unlike substituting Coke for Pepsi so what was the big problem to begin with?
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Old 11th Oct 2012, 19:43
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I find it extremely annoying when I am greeted by the CATSA security guards at the airports in Winnipeg and Toronto with "Hello, Bonjour."
I took french in Wpg til grade 12, but just the normal french everybody takes in the west, so I can say a few phrases when needed, so sometimes, just to take the piss, I start speaking french to these flunkies. Of course, all they can say is bonjour.
Its a totally hollow gesture meant to appease lawsuit boys like this. Completely meaningless, but they're told to do it by their bosses. Its like having "STOP/ARRET" on a red octagon at an intersection in wpg or toronto. Those who can speak french also speak perfect english, so its a meaningless appeasement gesture, political correctness. And who isn't annoyed by political correctness?
Like some others on here, stories like this make me glad I left Canada.

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