Language rights activist took on Ottawa transit system

OTTAWA – The airport isn’t the only place Michel Thibodeau expects to receive service in French.

The city of Ottawa’s bilingualism policy was scrutinized in January 2008 after the east-end Ottawa resident filed an official languages complaint.

According to Thibodeau – who often rode the bus – OC Transpo bus drivers were only greeting passengers with “good morning,” not “bonjour.” They also weren’t calling out stops in French, he said, and that was offensive.

“When I take the bus, I can’t get the same service in French,” he told QMI Agency.

“When bus drivers speak to passengers, it’s never in French.”

Thibodeau works for the federal government as an IT support specialist.

He took a stance, calling for English-speaking drivers to get language training, even saying all new hires should be bilingual.

Thibodeau also criticized the English destination signs on the front of buses, asking for French language accents to be added.

“This is my city and my country and two peoples founded this country – the English and the French – and we have decided to live with each other,” Thibodeau said at the time.

Thibodeau wasn’t awarded money in any of these cases.

Since last April, an automated Next Stop Announcement System is on all city buses.

The bilingual voice system calls out upcoming stops and also displays street names in both languages.

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