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Ottawa water fountains found guilty for not speaking French

Look, no one needs instructions for operating a water fountain.

Nevertheless, several drinking dispensers in Ottawa were found guilty of not labelling their ‘push’ buttons in French. That’s poussez, by the way. The buttons were marked in English and braille.

Adding to the travesty, the offending parties were located on Parliament Hill, which is ground zero for Canada’s language policy. The Canadian constitution, probably mere steps away from the fountains, states that English and French “have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada.”

Former public servant Michel Thibodeau brought the case to court on the grounds that the government violated his language rights. The Federal Court – the Federal Court! – sided with Thibodeau and ordered the Senate to pay him $1,500 in damages. His $700 in court costs were also covered.

According to the Huffington Post, Thibodeau said there is “no place in the buildings of Parliament” for “relics of the past” that give preponderance to “one official language to the detriment of the other.”

He continued his humanitarian screed: “To assure progress towards the equality of status and usage of French and English, linguistic biases must be eliminated.”

The Senate “expressed its regrets” over the tragedy.

Need some cash? Hunt down some Anglophone relics on government ground and call a lawyer.

Christian Nathler

Christian Nathler is a contributing writer at Notable Life.