quebec language laws

Canadian man getting $1,500 after complaining about English words on water fountain

The Senate of Canada is going to have to pay a Montreal man $1,500 in compensation after he complained that his language rights were violated by the water fountains on Parliament Hill.

Michel Thibodeau filed a complaint against the Senate over the fact that the fountains only contain the English word "PUSH" and no French translation, according to CTV News. 

Thibodeau has worked as a public servant on Parliament Hill since 1997, and said he felt "like a second-class citizen compared to Anglophones, who had signage in the language of choice" whenever he passed the drinking fountains.

The Federal Court announced their ruling Thursday, and ordered that the Senate of Canada pay Thibodeau because it failed to meet its obligations under the Official Languages Act. 

After Thibodeau's initial complaint, the Senate installed signs above the fountains in both languages with the text "To activate the water fountain, please push the button" and "Pour activer la fontaine d’eau veuillez appuyer sur le bouton," according to CTV. 

Thibodeau also received a letter from Richard Denis, the acting clerk of the Senate, in which he thanked Thibodeau for bringing the issue to light and apologized. 

But Federal Court Justice Luc Martineau ruled that without "substantive equality" between the two languages, Thibodeau was still entitled to the payout.

In addition to the $1,500 compensation, Thibodeau's $700 court fees were also reimbursed. 

And while this situation may come as a surprise to some, it's far from the first time Thibodeau has issued such a complaint, nor is it the first time he's won. 

Back in August, CTV reported that Air Canada was ordered to pay $21,000 to Michel Thibodeau and Lynda Thibodeau after they filed 22 complaints over language violations. 

Lead photo by

Wikimedia Commons


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