A few days after the National Canadian National, it was Air Canada’s turn to introduce Bill 96 on the protection of the French.
The company announced its “voluntary registration with the French Language Quebec Office under the French Language Charter, after several months of discussions with the Office,” in a brief press release issued Monday.
The air carrier follows in the footsteps of the national railway company, which made the same decision last Thursday.
The two companies were in a special position, being subject to the Official Languages Act of Canada, by virtue of its constituent articles of association.
However, Bill 96 that Quebec adopted to bolster Bill 101 for French now requires federally licensed companies to adopt franchising procedures.
Air Canada announced last November that it was already bound by federal legislation to “ensure the day-to-day implementation of its language obligations.” The Canadian carrier also said it wanted a “unified and coherent system” so that its language commitments would be shared with all airlines.
Air Canada theoretically had until December 1 to comply and was called out to the order, as did CN.
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And so the discussions of the past few months have borne fruit, and the company now says it is “proud of its commitment to the French language in Quebec and across its global network.”
“The additional gesture the company is making today reflects its desire to contribute to the protection, promotion and influence of the French language,” the statement read.
The French language minister, Jean-François Roberge, in a message posted on social media, welcomed the company’s decision to sign up for the franchising process.
“On this International Day of La Francophonie, I am delighted to see Air Canada join the OQLF franchise process. I salute this gesture from a great company headquartered in Montreal. Together for the French!” he wrote.
In recent years, the airline has found itself embroiled in several language controversies, the most notable of which, without a doubt, was the supposed monolingualism of its president and CEO, Michael Russo.
The latter had caused an outcry in Quebec in 2021 by claiming to have lived only in English since settling in Montreal some fifteen years ago. Then he had to apologize and promise to learn French.
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