Quebec Campground Loses Discrimination Suit
Quebec’s human rights tribunal has awarded a paraplegic man $9,000 in damages after he was denied access to a private campground in 2008 with his service dog.
Jacques Côté, his partner and his service dog, Gasby, went to Camping Plage de la Baie in St. Ferdinand, south of Quebec City, for a holiday, CBC.ca reported.
When he arrived at the gate, the desk manager spotted the dog and told him animals were not permitted at the campsite.
When he tried to explain the animal was a service dog, the campground owner, Janine Parent, argued Côté was driving, and therefore not blind, so Gasby couldn’t be a service animal.
Côté told the tribunal he tried to show her a card from MIRA, the organization that provides service dogs, but she wasn’t interested.
The situation escalated and security staff was called in. They ordered Côté to leave immediately.
The couple ended up abandoning their holiday.
Côté filed a discrimination complaint in August 2008.
Victim of discrimination
In a Sept. 30 ruling, the human rights tribunal found Côté had been the victim of discrimination.
“Ms. Parent made no effort to try to accommodate (Côté), even refusing to look at the MIRA (document) that could have shed light on the role of the dog,” the ruling stated.
Gaétan Cousineau, president of the human rights commission, said service animals serve a significant role in the lives of people with disabilities and aren’t just companions.
“If they are going to a restaurant, going to work, they’re traveling back and forth, going to a camping ground -which was the situation there – this person needs this dog to be able to do his daily activities,” he said.
The tribunal ordered Parent to pay $9,000 damages plus interest.