It's a landmark judgment. Air Canada was ordered to pay 21,000 Canadian dollars (about 14,300 euros) to two francophones who denounced "violation of their language rights", while Canadian law requires equivalent treatment between the two official languages. Michel and Lynda Thibodeau complained that certain words displayed on the aircraft, including "exit", are only indicated in English (exit, ed.) or that the word in equivalent French is written in smaller characters, suggesting an inequality between the two languages.
The Federal Court ruled in favor of this couple who filed no fewer than 22 complaints in 2016, eight of which have already been compensated. In its judgment on Tuesday, August 27, the courts awarded them $ 1,500 per complaint and ordered the first Canadian airline to provide them with an official letter of apology as soon as possible.
Air Canada will replace the banned banners
On board the aircraft, the two complainants had protested against the fact that the seat belt buckles mention the "lift" instruction only in English. An announcement of a Fredericton-Montreal flight had also made them particularly angry because the English version of 15 seconds, according to them was much more complete than the announcement in French, lasting five seconds. "Air Canada has not respected its language obligations," said Judge St-Louis, recalling that the Canadian constitution requires equal treatment between English and French in certain situations.
The Thibodeau spouses were dismissed in 2014 in the Supreme Court of Canada after demanding monetary compensation for violating their language rights on an international flight. Interviewed by the English-language public channel CBC, the complainant expressed his satisfaction and hoped that instructions on Air Canada flights will be available in both official languages "within a few months".
The airline, for its part, has told the Court to table within six months a "plan of work that provides an orderly replacement of the signs as recommended by the Commissioner" of Canada's official languages, to which the couple formulated his complaints.