Dr. Lukács goes to Ottawa (op-ed)

Thursday, 5 October, 2017

 

Yesterday, Dr. Gábor Lukács, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, went to Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa to present his arguments in the case Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács (SCC case summary & factums). Dr. Lukács is a respondent for this case because he won in the Federal Court of Appeal (CBC news) in September 2016. And then Delta won the right to appeal that FCA ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada in February 2017. (note: you can watch the hearing webcast video archive (~3 hours) to get a closer look.)

As Dr. Lukács put it in the 2016 CBC news interview,

“The underlying issue is, can you stand up for your neighbour? For the weak? For those who may already be disadvantaged in some way in society?

I first interviewed Dr. Lukács in August 2013 for the video report and article “Halifax mathematician gets bumped Air Canada passengers $200, $400, or $800 compensation“. During this 4+ years, I’m still amazed that a regular Canadian non-lawyer (math professor/researcher by training) has volunteered so much of his free time in helping others. And sometimes even risking being sued (and actually being) by airlines which have teams of lawyers and money.

To me, it was great to be able to video interview Dr. Lukács right inside the Supreme Court gown room where lawyers prepare their formal court attires. At the end of the hearing yesterday, it was nice to see lawyers from both sides and Dr. Lukács shook hands. I believe parties from both sides can violently disagree with each others’ ideas and submissions but it is nice to be civil after arguments are heard.

Over four years later, I still find the following 2013 answers given by Dr. Lukács very illuminating and insightful of why he spend so much of his free time in helping the Canadian flying public,

“Upon hearing the interviewer suggesting this delay compensation [$200, $400, $800 from Air Canada] should be named after Lukács, similar to mathematical theorems were named after Euclid or Gauss, Lukács paused to think for a moment and then thoughtfully insisted that,

“… it doesn’t matter where it was me or somebody else who got those [air passenger] rights. What is important [is] that those rights are put in place. And that people will now have better treatment. It doesn’t matter it was me, or my neighbour, or my friend or you, or that person in another city who made those changes. For me, it’s a question of I’ve learned enough about airlines to know that something are just wrong and against the law. And when I happened to see that, like in the case of what happened in Ottawa airport, I cannot just walk by and do nothing. I feel a responsibility.

Knowledge gives some responsibility. When you know that something is wrong, and you have quite a good idea of how to fix it, that does impose on you some level of moral responsibility, social responsibility. And so the issue of air passenger rights needs a face in Canada. I don’t see myself as a full-time passenger rights advocate, I am a mathematician after all. But certainly, I know that I am able to bring, through the agency, to the Canadian public some prospectives & arguments that benefit everybody. So I do it.””

Concluding thoughts

For years, I’ve gained inspirations from this one particular quote I LOVE“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” by Margaret Mead.

Seeing what Dr. Lukács has been trying to achieve by himself, it seems to me we sometimes doesn’t even need “a small group … people“. At times, all we need is one person to try to make a difference for the better in our increasingly perilous world. Do what each of us can, in the best way we know how. Success is never guaranteed but we and no one else can blame ourselves after we try the hardest we can.

P.S. Have a watch again of the action inside the Supreme Court yesterday.

Justice Russell Brown asks Dr. Gábor Lukács Questions during Supreme Court case with Delta

P.P.S. I’ve always found the political comedy-drama “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington“, a film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system, insightful and illuminating. As I get older, I find I’m not naive enough to ignore the bad but I’m more willing & eager to look for the good each and everyone of us can do in our own area of interest and competence.

There is no reason you or I can’t be our own “Mr. Smith”, “Dr. Lukács”, … and going to our own “Washington”, “Ottawa”, … which to me stands for ideals we strive to achieve.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Speech

P.P.P.S. Speaking about theorems being named after mathematicians, I still hope Dr. Lukács’ Air Passenger Rights work won’t slow down his mathematics research as I hope to see a math theorem bearing his name one of these days.

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Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács – Supreme Court of Canada hearing webcast video archive

Thursday, 5 October, 2017

Supreme Court of Canada has made the hearing webcast video archive (all ~3 hours) of Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács (summary, parties, factums) – available to watch online.

Also have a watch (with video) of my previous reports
* “Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview post “Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács” Supreme Court case oral arguments
* “Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview in advance of Supreme Court case with Delta Air Lines


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview post “Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács” Supreme Court case oral arguments

Wednesday, 4 October, 2017

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview at Supreme Court post Dr. Gábor Lukács' oral arguments - thumbnail

Dr. Gábor Lukács, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, presented his oral arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada for the first time. Have a watch of a video clip of Justice Russell Brown asking Dr. Gábor Lukács questions during the Supreme Court hearing.

Justice Russell Brown asks Dr. Gábor Lukács Qs during Supreme Court case with Delta

The following is an interview with Dr. Lukacs soon after the hearing finished while he was still at the Supreme Court of Canada when everything were still fresh in his mind. Some linked timecodes and rough notes are included but all notes are rough, and the video is the real authority of what were said.

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview at Supreme Court post Dr. Gábor Lukács’ oral arguments

0:00 Reporter Kempton Lam (KL) thanks Dr. Gabor Lukacs (GL) for doing the interview. GL talks about where he is located.
0:30 [KL:] How do you feel right now after appearing in front of the 9 Supreme Court Justices?
1:03 [GL:] Particularly impressed by Justice Malcolm Rowe.
1:58 [GL:] Also impressed by how respectful the hearing was. And how interested the judges were in the case.
2:14 [GL:] On a personal level …
2:50 [KL:] The Judges’ probing questions and pointed comments/observations fascinated me, can you talk about your experiences? How do you feel about the case itself after the hearing?
4:27 [GL:] I think the star of the day is the Amicus Curiae Mr. Benjamin Zarnett.
4:37 [GL:] Also very impressed by Byron Williams, Counsel for Council of Canadians with Disabilities able to achieve in 5 minutes.
5:04 [KL:] I try to clarify if I had the right Amicus Curiae Mr. Benjamin Zarnett in mind. (note: I did)
6:15 [KL:] My impression of Amicus Curiae’s arguments and I ask GL to share his take.
6:53 [KL:] How do you feel about your own presentation? What is your main take away?
7:54 [GL:] Cover about 2/3 of points want to cover. Happy with being able to “roll with the blows” (answer questions asked and get along with the line of arguments).
8:28 [KL:] What do you feel about Delta’s presentation and arguments? To me as a layman, it feels like the two Delta lawyers were kinda speechless (in a bad way) and weren’t able to answer Judges’ questions well.
9:10 [GL:] Delta’s lawyers didn’t seem to be handling the situations well. Lacking a big picture thinking of what is the case about.
9:31 [GL:] Two moments of the hearing.
11:50 [KL:] While this is not an exact quote, I ask GL to comment on what one justice said, “… I think the rule of law just died a little bit.” which was quite memorable.
12:46 [KL:] Was it during presentations by CTA or Delta lawyers?
13:10 [KL:] Your take on CTA’s legal presentation and performance during the hearing.
15:14 [KL:] 3-5 key legal take aways (questions asked by Judges, etc) that you can share with us?
17:00 [KL:] We will talk in coming days. At the end you shook hands with all the other lawyers. How do you feel now the case is with the justices now?

As a mark of civility of Dr. Lukacs and all the lawyers arguing as best and hard as they can for their views, they shook hands after the hearing was finished.

Dr. Gábor Lukács & lawyers shook hands after Supreme Court hearing

References:
1) 20+ downloadable PDF files relating to SCC File No. 37276.
2) Factums on appeals are available online from the Supreme Court of Canada:
http://www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/af-ma-eng.aspx?cas=37276

P.S. In advance of Dr. Lukacs presenting his oral arguments today, this reporter interviewed him at length and you can have a watch/listen to that interview.

Interview Dr. Gabor Lukacs re Delta Air Lines Supreme Court case


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