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Jul 16, 2011

Canadian law milked for personal gain.

The Courier Mail reports that court has awarded $US12,000 ($A11,230) to a couple who sued after they were not served in French aboard Air Canada flights on two trips to the United States.

Feel good laws are oppressive, especially when they step into normal human interaction and commercial activities. When those laws allow businesses to be sued they create the monster of the professional litigant and provide fertile ground for this activity.

There are areas where companies may find an advantage in providing extra services, which may attract customers. They should however be free to not do so if the service is unnecessary, or unviable. It is crazy in any case to award anything to a litigant who is bilingual for not being awarded service in the other of those languages:
Michel Thibodeau and his partner, Lynda, sued Air Canada for $US500,000 ($A468,000) in punitive damages for not complying with a Canadian law requiring the airline to provide services in both of Canada's official languages - French and English - on flights where routinely at least five per cent of the passengers are Francophone.

A Canadian court ruled in favor of the couple this week and ordered Air Canada to pay the couple $US12,000 and apologize. …

According to the Toronto Sun newspaper, Thibodeau is a fluently bilingual federal government employee.

"Linguistic zealots like Thibodeau do not help unify the cultural divide, but instead exacerbate the chasm,'' wrote Peter Worthington, a columnist for the newspaper.

Other media offered similar comments.

The National Post's Barbara Kay called Thibodeau "equivalent of the compulsive coupon clipper'', saying that "instead of haunting supermarkets, he haunts bus companies and airlines, forever on the lookout for an abrogation of his right to hear the station stop, the weather, the time and the altitude in French.''

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