Pierre Poilievre, the active Conservative Party leader, recently sparked controversy when he used the public address system on a WestJet flight heading to Calgary from Quebec City, to deliver a speech. The move raised several eyebrows among the passengers, and the Union, that questioned the suitability of his action. Poilievre went on record to state that the Union was the one that needed to issue an apology – not him, as they had falsely accused him of delivering the speech without their permission.
Reacting to demands of an apology by CUPE Alberta in the aftermath of the speech, Poilievre responded, “I believe the Union should be the one to apologize for their attempt to suppress freedom of speech.” He added that his invitation to address the passengers came directly from the crew, and had been repeated multiple times.
It is worthy of note that the controversial PA system speech was delivered on a Sunday evening when the WestJet plane, specifically scheduled to convey delegates from an annual meeting of the Conservative Party, took off from Quebec City. The aircraft was still a commercial flight, hence the resulting controversy surrounding the leader’s actions.
CUPE Local 4070 president, Alia Hussain, expressed disappointment towards WestJet management for allowing a political figure exploit the public address system on a regular flight to deliver a political statement. In a statement made on Tuesday evening, she emphasized the unexpected occurrence.
In response to the comments, Poilievre stated there was nothing inappropriate about his speech, adding that most people on the plane expressed admiration for his statement. He revealed, “The passengers were greatly pleased with my no-nonsense comments about cutting the carbon tax, improving housing affordability, and restoring the logical Canada we know and appreciate.”
A passenger on the flight corroborated Poilievre’s vector of events in an outreach to CTV News. Thomas Harrison, a conservative delegate, shared his approval of the speech and dismissed the controversy stirred by CTV News.
WestJet, in a statement, mentioned that its current policy permits the “infrequent” use of the PA system on “unique occasions” by individuals other than the flight crew. However, they have expressed intentions to review this policy in the wake of the recent event.