Supreme Court of Canada dismisses appeal of pilot in discrimination action against Bombardier

Uncle Sam

Last year, we posted an update about the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to hear an appeal involving Mr. Latif, a Canadian pilot of Pakistani descent.  He alleged that he was a victim of discrimination when Bombardier refused him entry into a pilot training program.  Our blog post (which includes a summary of the case) can be found here.

In short, Mr. Latif, who had 25 years’ experience as a pilot, applied for Bombardier’s training program in respect of a particular aircraft.  Based on a prior decision of the U.S. Department of Justice (under its Alien Flight Student Program (“AFSP”)) to refuse him entry into Bombardier’s training centre in Dallas, Texas on the basis that he was a threat …

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UAVs and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms


The rise in popularity and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”) has attracted much attention recently. In the last year, we have seen a major uptick in UAV use by private companies. Here in Canada, UAVs have been regulated for some time through federal aviation regulations, but the accessibility of relatively inexpensive UAV technology has led Transport Canada to consider revisiting the regulations to ensure they are keeping pace with current interest and use.

In many industries, both private actors and government bodies are using UAVs in new and innovative ways. Arising from this technological leap forward are a number of new legal issues, particularly in the area of privacy. Pursuant to section 8 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and

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Canadian Government Amends Regulations for Offshore Flights

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The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Federal Minister of Transport, announced on April 22, 2015 that amendments to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (“CARs”) regarding offshore helicopter operations in Canada would come into force effective on July 21, 2015.  The objectives of these amendments are to reduce the risks associated with offshore operations flights and to bring Canada’s standards in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and industry best practices.  The genesis of these changes arises in response to an earlier loss.

On March 12, 2009, a Sikorsky S-92A helicopter destined for the Hibernia Oilfield crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of N.L. with 16 passengers and 2 crew members on board.  The lone surviving passenger suffered significant injuries while all other …

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Year in Review: CTA Rules on Standing for Discrimination Complaints

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In its Decision No. 425-C-A-2014, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) directly addressed a person’s right to bring a complaint of discrimination.

In September 2014, Gábor Lukács filed a complaint with the CTA alleging that Delta Airlines’ practices around the transportation of “large (obese)” persons were discriminatory.  A preliminary issue arose as to Mr. Lukács’ “standing” (or “right”) to bring a complaint on behalf of “large” persons, defined by Delta Airlines policies, as being unable to fit in a single seat.

Mr. Lukács argued that it was not necessary for him to be a member of the discriminated class.  Mr. Lukács argued that under s. 111 of the Air Transportation Regulations, the CTA had jurisdiction to hear a complaint made …

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Expanded “no-fly” list coming as part of Bill C-51

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On January 30, 2015, the Federal Government introduced Bill C-51, also known as the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015.  In addition to amending several existing statutes, including the Criminal Code and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the bill, assuming it is passed, will enact two new pieces of legislation, one of which is entitled the Secure Air Travel Act.  The Bill received its second reading February 2015, and is currently before a House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

The Secure Air Travel Act provides for the creation of a “no fly” list, which will include the name, any known alias, date of birth, and gender of any person who the Minister of Public …

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Interpreting “Accident” in Article 17 of the Montreal Convention

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In October 2012, we reviewed the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s decision in Gontcharov v. Canjet, 2012 ONSC 2279. The Gontcharov decision affirmed the Ontario court’s alignment with the U.S. approach to interpreting the word “accident” in Article 17 of the Montreal Convention. Citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Air France v. Saks, 470 U.S. 392, 105 S. Ct. 1338 (1985), Ontario’s Justice J. Wilson stated, at para. 47, “The term “accident” used in art. 17 of the Convention has been consistently interpreted to mean “an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger”.”

In January 2015, the U.S. District Court (S.D. Florida) released its decision in Vanderwall v. United Airlines

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Status Quo for Limits of Liability under Montreal Convention

Airbus A380

The Montreal Convention of 1999 (“MC99”) establishes liability limits for commercial aircraft operators for damages in relation to the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo.  Article 17 provides that the carrier is liable for the death or bodily injury of a passenger involving an accident which occurs on board the aircraft or in the course of embarking or disembarking.  MC99 also provides that the operator may be liable for damage or loss to baggage or cargo and for delay.  Articles 21 and 22 of MC99 set out limits to the amount of this liability.  These limits are expressed in Special Drawing Rights (“SDRs”), an international “currency” established by the International Monetary Fund.  The value of a SDR is calculated …

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Year in Review: Airline Liability for “Bumping”

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In July 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit released a ruling in the case of Campbell v. Air Jamaica Ltd.  This decision confirmed that a passenger can only recover expenses arising from delay after being “bumped” from a scheduled international flight.

Mr. Campbell, despite being checked-in and issued a boarding pass, was bumped from his flight on to a flight departing the next day.  In addition, he was charged a $150 change fee.  He sued the airline for damages stemming from the bumping, which also allegedly contributed to him suffering a heart attack.  Mr. Campbell claimed that as a result of his bumping and refusal of hotel accommodations, he was forced to sleep outside the …

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Court grants injunction against airport protests


In January 2014, we reported on a decision of the Alberta Provincial Court acquitting on criminal charges of trespass eight members of an anti-abortion organization engaged in demonstrations in the Calgary Airport in 2011.  The protesters had reasonably believed they were permitted to demonstrate on Airport premises given a 1991 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (Committee for the Commonwealth of Canada v. Canada) which concluded that prohibiting the distribution of political pamphlets at an airport violated freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It had been argued that the circumstances were distinguishable from the Committee case, as major Canadian airports at the time were run by the federal government, while they …

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Year in Review: Thibodeau v. Air Canada – The Exclusivity of the Montreal Convention

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Michel and Lynda Thibodeau (the “Thibodeaus”) launched several complaints before Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages (the “Commissioner”) alleging that Air Canada had contravened its obligations under the Official Languages Act (“OLA”) to provide services in French. They alleged that on two trips they made in 2009, Air Canada had failed to offer services in French at check-in counters, boarding gates and aboard flights on which there was significant demand for services in French, and that it made passenger announcements only in English.

The Commissioner found that all but two of the complaints had merit. The matter then proceeded before the Federal Court of Canada, which awarded $6,000 in damages to each of the Thibodeaus, representing $1,500 per violation. The Federal …

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