Canadian airline WestJet is taking flak over its decision to let conservative opposition leader Pierre Poilievre use the public address system on a recent flight to deliver a campaign-style rally speech to passengers.
Poilievre had been in Quebec City for the Conservative convention and was travelling to Calgary on a domestic WestJet flight when he was allowed to address the entire plane via the public address system.
WestJet has been blasted by politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as the flight attendant union, which represents crew at the airline who demanded WestJet apologise for the decision.
“WestJet’s own work rules state clearly that no one other than operating crew are to use the PA system,” commented Alia Hussain, local president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Hussain says the airline has since distanced itself from allowing Poilievre to use the public address system and is trying to blame cabin crew, despite Hussain insisting that the flight attendants had no input in the decision.
“A plane’s cabin crew should never be put in a position of having to take a political stance,” Hussain continued. “Giving Mr. Poilievre a platform showed bad judgement by WestJet.”
WestJet’s internal rules state that only the operating crew are allowed to use the public address system and that it should only be used to deliver information they need and require.
“The crew is responsible for the safety of everyone on board, and we take that responsibility seriously,” Hussain required.
In the roughly 45-second speech, Poilievre made a series of short political statements, asking the passengers: “Who’s ready for a home you can afford?” and “Who’s ready for some common sense?”
Poilievre then referenced the next federal election, saying: “This is your captain’s warning, a little bit of turbulence but it will only last about two years.”
“At which time we’ll have a totally new crew and pilot in charge of the plane. We’ll pierce through the storm, safely land in our home, in the country we know and love. Your home, my home, our home. Let’s bring it home.”
Despite the union’s fury, Poilievre’s speech was actually met by laughter and applause by many of the passengers on the plane
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.