Air Canada pays £8k to couple who sued them for speaking English

Air Canada have been forced to pay out £8,000 after being sued by a French-speaking couple who were unhappy they were spoken to in English.

The judge in the case ruled that Air Canada had not respected Michel and Lynda Thibodeau's right to be served in their native language during a flight from the country's capital Ottawa.

Mr Thibodeau, who does speak fluent English, complained that he was not greeted in French when the pair checked in for their flight or at the airport's boarding gate.

According to the Daily Mail, he also branded the airline's employees 'malicious, oppressive and reprehensible' for not answering his questions in French.

Mr Thibodeau had sued Air Canada for £350,000 for breach of the Official Languages Act, under which Air Canada must communicate and provide services in English and French.

But a Canadian federal court ordered the airline to pay the couple £7,850 in damages and apologise.

The ruling has reignited debate over Canada's linguistic divide.

The country is officially bilingual but arguments are often stirred by nationalists in French-speaking Quebec.

Canadian constitional expert Michael Behiels said: 'Canada is an officially bilingual country and Air Canada is bound by the Official Languages Act.

'If it doesn't respect the Act, then that will aggravate the separatists in Quebec and we don't want that to happen.'

Mr Thibodeau said after the ruling last week: 'This was a violation of my linguistic rights, and at some point you have to stand up for your rights or lose them.'

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