The skies are already unfriendly enough, from scorching cabin temperatures on the tarmac to sexual assaults during flights. The last thing anyone needs is the leader of a political leader grabbing a PA system handset to give a speech, but Pierre Poilievre, the leader of Canada’s Conservative Party, did exactly that on a WestJet aircraft just before a flight. The airline blames the cabin crew for the incident, while the flight attendants’ union refutes the claim and is demanding an apology.
CBC reports that Poilievre was flying out of Quebec City after his party’s convention last Sunday. Before the WestJet flight to Calgary, he hijacked the PA system to give a quick 45-second stump speech. The Conservative leader thanked WestJet and compared Canada’s current administration led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to a turbulent flight that will only last the next two years. He was seemingly well-received by several passengers on the flight, but he didn’t have the approval of the cabin crew.
Once Poilievre posted the speech on social media the following morning, WestJet attempted to distance itself from what took place on its aircraft by blaming its employees. An airline spokesperson told CTV News, “The use of the PA in this circumstance was approved in advance by WestJet operational leadership and up to the final determination of the operating crew.”
However, that might not have been the case. CUPE Alberta, the union representing WestJet’s cabin crew, stated that the personnel aboard the flight had zero input on Poilievre taking over the PA. The union also demanded an apology from both WestJet and the Conservative leader.
WestJet has indicated that it will work to ensure this doesn’t happen again. CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech took to social media to say, “This was not a political endorsement, nor should it be interpreted as such. We are non-partisan by nature and will revisit our policy on this.”
Poilievre, on the other hand, has decided to add fuel to the fire. The politician told the CBC, “I think that the union should apologize for trying to silence freedom of speech.” It’s easy to defend freedom of speech, but the freedom to give a speech on an airliner is a completely different argument.