Conservative Party Leader’s Unexpected Flight Speech Sparks Social Media Outrage

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Returning to Calgary after the Conservative Party national meeting in Quebec City, passengers onboard a WestJet flight received an unexpected address from Party Leader Pierre Poilievre. Taking to the public address system on this non-exclusive journey, Poilievre delivered a brief campaign-style speech lasting roughly 45 seconds.

An array of videos from this unexpected event engulfed social media platforms the following Monday, leading to mixed reactions from viewers. While some expressed support for the Opposition Leader, others raised questions concerning the appropriateness of utilizing a public flight as a platform for political engagement.

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WestJet, responding to the controversy, clarified that the flight in question was indeed a public one. However, it was added to the roster specifically to facilitate delegates attending the Conservative Party convention in Quebec City. Despite being advertised to cater to the Conservative Party Convention (CPC), there was no obligation for passengers to declare their participation in the event during booking. Hence, the total number of non-participating passengers remains indeterminate.

According to the airline, the decision to allow Poilievre to address the passengers was pre-approved by WestJet’s operational leadership team, with the final discretion resting with the operating crew. Essentially, both flight and cabin crew aboard the plane consented to Poilievre’s mini-address.

Noteworthy among the naysayers was Jann Arden, the Juno Award-winning author and television star. Criticizing the event, she Tweeted her disappointment, “A P.A. system on a plane is for the flight crew. Full stop. Not a political soapbox for social media.” She followed up with a second tweet, announcing an end to any future dealings with WestJet, calling the incident ‘disappointing’.

Some social media users, however, were confused by the collective outrage. One user, identifying as Elle, defended the airlines’ decision to allow the speech, pointing out that the flight was added specifically for convention-goers.

Critics argue that the videos might potentially mislead viewers into believing the aircraft was filled with average travelers, rather than Conservative Party affiliates.

Alheli Picazo was among those who aired this concern. She stated, “Some … have presented this as depicting a random planeload of ordinary Canadians enraptured by an impromptu address by the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.”

Political Scientist Lori Williams from Mount Royal University shared her thoughts on the incident, suggesting that it likely did little to influence the political scenario. She commented, “Strategically, I don’t think this benefited the Conservatives. Those who weren’t already supporters may have reacted negatively to hearing a speech they had no choice but to listen to.”

This incident, albeit causing some tension on social media, did not appear to upset any actual flight passengers. Pointedly, Elle responded to Arden’s criticism with, “Imagine being mad about a flight you weren’t even on.”