Air Canada to pay $12K to Ottawa couple over lack of bilingualism

Discussion in 'Air Canada | Aeroplan' started by sobore, Jul 13, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://ottawa.ctv.ca/servlet/an/loc...TT_Air_Canada_110713/20110713/?hub=OttawaHome

    Air Canada will have to pay $12,000 to an Ottawa couple because it failed to offer them services in French.

    A Federal Court judge has also ordered the airline to apologize to the duo.
    The case arose out of trips the couple took to the United States.
    However, the judge decided against imposing punitive damages, saying Air Canada has tried to meet its obligations under the Official Languages Act.

    Still, the court said the airline has to make every effort to fulfil its obligations under the act.
    Air Canada is also required to come up with a system to identify and track violations of its linguistic obligations.
     
  2. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    Check out the comments at the end of the linked article.
     
  3. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    Pretty much reflect my feelings about the matter. Yes, the letter of the law was not met. But perhaps it's time the law be changed. Now that the Conservatives no longer must cow-tow to Quebec, such ridiculous things should be changed. How many US cities does AC operate to where there is nobody speaking French? Particularly on the part of its contractors who staff its customer service positions.
     
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  4. NordsFan
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    yaychemistry and milchap like this.
  5. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Apparently I have nothing better to do tonight than to read the court ruling and wikipedia the Official Languages Act (OLA) on wikipedia....

    So, let's make an absurd argument (someone please convince me that I am wrong). In the suit, AC admitted to violating this part of the act:

    AC as a former Crown Corporation was sort of "grandfathered" into the act, thus the above applies to them. Thus the lack of bilingual flight attendants on an the AC Jazz (QK?) flights were one of the admitted breaches of above code.

    Now for the absurd part:
    The OLA applies to any Canadian Crown Corporation, and Loto-Quebec (which runs lotteries and scratch tickets, etc) is a Crown Corporation. Using the same logic as the AC case, a retailer selling scratch tickets is a place "where services are provided or made available by another person or organization on its behalf" (it being Loto-Quebec). Thus a grumpy (or otherwise) clerk working at said retailer selling and didn't speak English, would an English-speaking Canadian citizen be able to sue Loto-Quebec for damages?

    Please, I hope someone can come along and poke holes in this argument. Either that, or someone do it.
     
  6. NordsFan
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    NordsFan Silver Member

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    I'll take a poke......

    Loto-Québec (or as its official name would have it, la Société des loteries du Québec) is NOT a Federal Crown Corporation and it is NOT subject to the Official Languages Act, a law of the Parliament of Canada.

    Rather, Loto-Québec is a creature of the Québec National Assembly, having been created by virtue of the Act respecting the Société des loteries du Québec, R.S.Q. ch. S-13.1.

    Details here: http://www2.publicationsduquebec.go...lecharge.php?type=2&file=/S_13_1/S13_1_A.html
     
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  7. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Interesting. I was just going off the wikipedia list of Crown Corporations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_corporations_of_Canada#Quebec). Perfectly reasonable that this list is incorrect. Thanks.
     
  8. NordsFan
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    NordsFan Silver Member

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    The list is not incorrect.

    However, it is divided into three parts: Federal, Provincial and Territorial. The Provincial part is sub-divided into 9 sections, one for each of the provinces shown on the incomplete list.

    The sub-section for Quebec gives a partial list of that province's "Crown Corporations", which BTW is not a term that is widely used here. Quebec legislation generally uses the expression "Société d'État" or something similar.

    As mentioned above, Loto-Québec being a creation of the provincial legislature, is not subject to the Federal Official Languages Act.
     
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  9. tcook052
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    As a former member of the Fourth Estate I understand how easy it is to knock mass media outlets for oversimplifying complex topics or judicial decisions but trust me it isn't easy putting highly technical jargon or legal terms into language everyone can quickly grasp while still being accurate to the facts of the case.

    On the topic itself MHO is AC should be freed from unreasonable linguistic expectations inconsistent with it's competitors on transborder routes. The chances of changing rather than abolishing the AC Act seem slightly higher.
     
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  10. NordsFan
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    Yup, it is indeed easy to knock the media, but only because, IMHO, they don't do a great job of reporting important societal issues that arise in the legislatures or the law courts.

    In the Thibodeau case, the media took the fast and lazy route and spun two themes that would generate the usual predictable comments from the "bay at the moon crowd": AC was taken to task by a court (good) and some disgruntled French guy tried a money-grab over a can of soft drink (bad).

    What a conundrum ! Who do we dislike more: AC or French guys ?

    A quick perusal of the actual decision by an honest reader should bring one to the following conclusions about the facts:

    - AC is hobbled with a very complex set of rules that its domestic and foreign competitors are not subject to (as you mentioned), hence the the more complex operational environment at AC and QK/ACRE;

    - there is a long-standing relationship between the parties involved: AC, the Commissioner for Official Languages and Mr. Thibodeau;

    - Mr. Thibodeau is an earnest activist on the issue of holding AC to its obligations under the OLA/ACPPA and uses due process to advance a political agenda, not a financial one;

    - the Court system does not actually give away "free" money to plaintiffs who ask for large rewards; filing a complaint and prosecuting it through the system is not easy and comes with some cost (which AC offered, and was ordered, to reimburse to Mr. Thibodeau).

    None of the above has anything to do with the choice of soda brands (fun to raise in the media though), the fact that the plaintiff is pefectly fluent in English (not important to the merits of the complaint) or that he was only motivated by financial gain (he clearly wasn't).

    Legal challenges raised by citizens on issues such as these are an important part of our democracy. This is especially true when such challenges are raised by people who may be unpopular for a variety of reasons. That's exactly what the Court system is designed for: to give a fair and objective hearing to those who feel they have been aggrieved.

    Unfortunately, the reporting on this issue didn't really help anyone see the bigger picture on questions like those you correctly raised i.e. freeing AC from the current rules or applying them in part to other airlines. Bad reporting only helped to fuel the "edifying" spectacle of stupidity found in the comment sections of our mass media (CBC, G&M, etc) and some of the drivel on FT.....
     
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  11. AC should spend its time and money to Lobby to change this issue rather than flight EK. WE the taxpayers had to pay the $300 million to move a base to keep AC happy. I would rather AC Lobby for things that cost a lot less to the taxpayer.
     
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  12. nighthawk
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    nighthawk Silver Member

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    That lobbying would go over fantastically well in Quebec.
     
  13. Fighting unfair competition is a good thing. EK and their other cousins are nothing but vulture airlines trying to force feed pax through their hubs that does nothing for our airline infrastructure. I have flown both EK and Etihad, like their service, but don't like how they want to compete. Its sort of like using cheap Chinese slave labor to gain a price advantage importing goods into Canada. The consumer gets a price break, sort of, but the domestic jobs have gone elsewhere. Free trade is a wonderful idea whose time has come and is maturing but its not always w/o some rules of engagement and restrictions.

    Canadians cannot own Companies in the GCC without having some local "agent" on the payroll or as a minor shareholder. When the GCC emirates and Countries follow WTC rules openly and transparently then maybe things can be revisited. These carriers use cheap slave like labor on the ground, pay nothing for their fuel through bookkeeping magic, and pay no taxes whle being state owned. Our labor force and particularly our airlines do not benefit from those "perks". What do they give us in return? Do they buy Canadian goods and services in numbers that justify giving them free reign over our skies. I doubt it.
     
  14. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    Then I guess I should seek compensation from YUL when one of her employees refused to provide service in English for me when I inquired for assistance during my transit there last month. :rolleyes: Even worse for me, I understand little to no French.

    Never fails to amaze me how some people would go to great lengths to abuse the law.
     
  15. NordsFan
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    NordsFan Silver Member

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    If you feel you weren't given proper and respectful service by an AC employee, then, yes, perhaps you should make a complaint. <shrug>
     
  16. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    She was an airport employee, not an AC ground staff.
     
  17. NordsFan
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    NordsFan Silver Member

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    Thank you for the factual clarification. AFAIK, ADMTL is not subject to the OLA or the ACPPA.

    Complain away. Ask for compensation if you must:

    Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

    975, Roméo-Vachon Blvd. North
    Dorval, Quebec
    H4Y 1H1
     
  18. Courcoison
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    Courcoison Silver Member

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    Bonsoir:
    La loi impose a Air Canada un service bilingue du fait de son histoire et de ses origines n'en plaise a certains.
    L'histoire du Canada c'est aussi l'histoire de sa communaute Francophone qui a du se defendre pour conserver sa langue et sa culture depuis 1763.

    Good evening:
    By law Air Canada has to offer bilingual service because of its history and origins even if some do not like it.
    The history of Canada is also the history of the French speaking community who had to defend itself to preserve both its language and culture since 1763.
     
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  19. QSG
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    QSG Gold Member

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    To be exact : "Air Canada's predecessor, Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA), was created by legislation of the federal government as a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway (CNR) on 11 April 1936.[1] The newly created Department of Transportunder Minister C. D. Howe desired an airline, under government control, to link cities on the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast. Using $5 million in government seed money, two Lockheed Model 10 Electras and one Boeing Stearmanbiplane were purchased from Canadian Airways.[8] Experienced airline executives from United Airlines and American Airlines were brought in.[1]
    Passenger operations began on 1 September 1937, with an Electra carrying two passengers and mail from Vancouver to Seattle, a $14.20 round trip.[1] On 1 July 1938, TCA hired its first flight attendants.[9] Transcontinental routes from Montreal to Vancouver began on 1 April 1939, using 12 Lockheed Model 14 Super Electras and six Lockheed Model 18 Lodestars.[8] By January 1940 the airline had grown to about 500 employees.[9]In 1942, Canadian Pacific Airlines suggested merging with TCA. Prime MinisterMackenzie King rejected the proposal and introduced legislation regulating TCA as the only airline in Canada allowed to provide transcontinental flights. With the increase in air travel after World War II, CP Air was granted one coast-to-coast flight, and a few international routes.[1]
    Originally headquartered in Winnipeg, which was also the site of the national maintenance base, the federal government moved the headquarters to Montreal in 1949
     
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  20. QSG
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    QSG Gold Member

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    As shown above, Air Canada's history had little to do with YUL and the Francophonie , the HQ. and maintenance were moved from the middle of the country in Winnipeg where there has been a large aerospace industry for 6-7 decades. (desspite many attempts over the years to move it East to Ontario and Quebec)
     
  21. :) perhaps we can get NordsFan to lead the way :)
    However these days we would need to involve the NDP.
     
  22. Perhaps its time to move AC back to its roots....... QSG time to start a petition. Maybe thats what AC need to be profitable.
     
  23. NordsFan
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    NordsFan is registered as a lobbyist federally and provincially and awaits your instructions.

    Are we to assume that you will be paying the bill ? :D
     
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  24. nighthawk
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    nighthawk Silver Member

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    With all the money saved by using "slave labour", I'm sure why fly has plenty of funds at hand to lead the fight :p
     
  25. NordsFan
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    Maybe I should ask for an advance ? :D
     

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