Complaint urges that drivers be bilingual

A city man who once sued Air Canada for $500,000 because he could not order a soft drink in French during a flight has now launched an official complaint against OC Transpo, demanding that drivers greet passengers and call out stops in French and English.


“It’s been bothering me for a long time and I just said, enough is enough,” said Michel Thibodeau, who has lodged an official complaint. “Just imagine if every announcement made by a bus driver would be made in French only. Can you imagine how many people would get frustrated?”


However, Thibodeau said he sees no need for STO transit drivers in Gatineau to extend the same service to English riders, saying, “the province of Quebec has a special status.


“If there was no danger of the French language disappearing, then it could be a different story,” he said.

Thibodeau said yesterday the position of transit driver in Ottawa should be designated bilingual, so that only fluent speakers could be hired, and that language training be provided for existing bus drivers.

OC Transpo director Alain Mercier told Metro that there are no plans to designate the positions as bilingual, although plans are in the works for an automated system that will call out stops in both languages, which should address one of Thibodeau’s concerns.

Mercier said OC Transpo does offer voluntary French language training at work, for which he said there is a strong demand.

Thibodeau said he sees no need for the changes to go two ways in the capital’s transit service, since “there needs to be measures in place to protect and promote the French language.

“To me it’s fine that it would be one language in Quebec and both here,” he said.

In the past

  • In 2002, Thibodeau sued Air Canada after he was unable to order a 7-Up soft drink on an Aug. 14, 2000 flight from Montreal to Ottawa, because none of the flight attendants spoke French.