"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected
and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever
~Clarence Darrow

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Welcome To The Wild Blue Yonder

You might recall our discussion earlier this year when the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) released a landmark decision concerning the right of individuals with disabilities to travel by air without having to say for a second seat, for an attendant or other use, to accommodate their disability.

Known as the historic decision in the “One Person, One Fare” case, the agency recognized the right of these individuals to have access to a second seat when traveling by air in Canada without having to pay a second fare.

But let's never take anything for granted. Reading yesterday's newspaper, I discovered that three of Canada's major airlines (Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet) had applied to the Supreme Court of Canada for permission to appeal that policy. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful in their appeal, with the SCC refusing to hear the case.

What that means, from a practical point of view, is that following a six year legal battle, the airlines, all of them, will finally be forced to make those additional seats available at no charge to disabled or obese passengers.

Which, while good news, is really pretty sad, don't you think?

I mean, really, should it have ever been fought in the first place? Isn't it really just an issue of basic human rights? I can only echo the question asked by legal counsel for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, which my gut tells me had played a big role in this victory.

"Where is the federal government’s leadership on this issue?" said the council’s Pat Danforth. She argued a quicker and easier solution would have been for Transport Canada to impose industry-wide regulations on all air carriers.

Update: By the way, just to be clear, although the article in the Chronicle Herald speaks of a second seat for a disabled person who needs additional room for a wheelchair or stretcher, or an obese person who needs an additional seat, don't be fooled. The decision also applies to a person with a mental or developmental disability who requires an attendant to fly with them.

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