May 18, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Official languages ​​| Can Air Canada continue to break the law?

Official languages ​​|  Can Air Canada continue to break the law?

Although (Ottawa) Air Canada has chosen to pay the fines instead of improving its services in French, it can see the changes imposed by the Official Languages ​​Commissioner. It was requested by Minister Ginet Petitpass Taylor, who defended her bill in a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Posted at 5:31
Updated at 6:05 pm.

Mylene Crete

Mylene Crete
Press

“The commissioner has a tool box [pour] Really do his job, ”she said in response to questions from Conservative MP Jacques Gourde.

Photo by Franకోois Roy, Law Press Archives

Janet Petitpass Taylor

New version of the bill to modernize Official Languages ​​Act The responsibility of overseeing its application gives the Commissioner new powers. He could impose fines of up to $ 25,000 on Air Canada. This authority extends to all airport authorities, including VIA Rail and Marine Atlantic.

“Air Canada has an annual revenue of $ 5.8 billion,” Gord recalled. If the commissioner imposes a maximum fine of $ 25,000, do you think it can really move them or do they think they may not be able to pay the fine and respect the law? ⁇

Official languages ​​were questioned by members elected to a parliamentary committee “Penalties are not required by law,” he said Monday. Instead, he argued for support from the federal government.

“First, I think we need to remember that administrative monetary penalties are a tool, not the worst tool,” said Minister Petit‌pas Taylor. Bill C-13 gives the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​five new powers: informal mediation, publication of his decisions, imposition of penalties, termination of consent agreements and authority of order.

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“It really benefits companies like the Order of Power, Air Canada,” she added. This allows the Official Languages ​​Commissioner to go to federal court to enforce a non-compliance order.

Despite warnings from Franకోois Legalt’s cabinet member in Quebec City and the Office of the Official Languages ​​Commissioner in Ottawa, Air Canada President and CEO Michael Rousseau provoked a language storm by delivering a speech in English in Montreal in November. Only a few sentences are added in French.

He later told reporters that he had been living in the metropolis for 14 years without learning the French language, which belonged to the city. Since the air carrier is subject, the eyebrow raising statement Official Languages ​​Act And it receives a significant number of complaints a year about the quality of its services in French.

In the wake of the controversy, Minister Petitpass Taylor met with Air Canada Board of Directors Chairman Wagon Sorensen.

“The only reason I meet them anyway is Mr Rousseau’s full gaff [durant] My second week [comme] Minister of Official Languages. I was very bored with his comments and we talked about it, but it was not about the bill. ⁇

The official languages ​​commissioner received more than 2,000 complaints, a record number after Mr. Rousseau’s speech. A few months later, the minister granted the new powers he had long been asking for so that he could enforce the law without simply issuing recommendations.

The Air Canada boss apologized in earnest French to members of the parliamentary committee during his testimony on Monday. He said he has been taking intensive French lessons ever since, which takes about 10 hours a week.

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The bill amended C-13 Official Languages ​​Act, Filed on 1ster In March, the legislative process was in its infancy. It has not yet passed a second reading in the House of Commons.