I started to write about this Air Canada language fiasco — twice — then had to stop myself.
First I was just mad. It seemed like a cash grab to me, and a personal vendetta against the airline. Then I saw the guy on the news and I thought, he’s right. I mean, how would I feel if I was on the people’s airline speaking English and was basically snubbed and treated rudely?
You order one drink and get another — this has happened to me in Montreal when I was still trying to speak French. I ordered a beer at Olympic Stadium and got a Coke — and I know the guy heard me.
My French wasn’t that bad.
That’s the very day I stopped trying to speak French in my homeland. No wait.
I tried another time at work and the secretary just looked at me and started to laugh.
She corrected my pronunciation and then said: “You’re funny.”
I never tried to speak French again, and that was 30 years ago.
So I get where the guy is coming from. It’s just that this has happened to him twice, and twice he took Air Canada to court and got money. It’s occurred to me that if I were doing this, I’d go for costs. It would be the principle.
That’s why people are upset.
The guy is right. Air Canada is the national airline and is obligated by law to serve people in both official languages. I mean, you won’t get that on West Jet. You won’t get that on an American airline.
You probably could get served in both languages on Air France and some African airlines, but they won’t get you to Moose Jaw.
So if Air Canada doesn’t serve in French, then a Francophone is going to have to go a long way to find another airline that does.
That said, this case is very damaging to language relations.
Those who are against the guy will be called racist. Those who support the guy will be called extremists.
So please, Air Canada, hire more bilingual people and stop the madness.
We don’t need to stir up this already sour pot.