Pierre Poilievre standing at the front of a plane cabin holding the microphone of the plane's public address system.
Pierre Poilievre making a political speech using a WestJet plane’s public address system. Credit: Pierre Poilievre / X Credit: Pierre Poilievre / X

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)’s Alberta division is calling on federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and WestJet to apologize to the passengers and crew of a flight out of Quebec City, QC to Calgary, AB after Poilievre was allowed to use the plane’s public address system to make a political speech on the flight.

“WestJet’s own work rules state clearly that no one other than operating crew are to use the public address system,” reads a statement from CUPE Local 4070 president Alia Hussain, which represents cabin crew employees at WestJet.

The union emphasized that it was the company, WestJet, and not that cabin crew that allowed Poilievre to make the speech, implying that this was not exactly a spontaneous stunt by the Conservative Party leader and his campaign team.

Crew had no say on the matter

“It’s very disappointing that WestJet management let a politician use the public address system on a recent flight for his political statement. It is doubly disappointing that WestJet is now trying to assign blame on the cabin crew for this event. The cabin crew had no input into this decision,” Hussain’s statement goes on to read.

In a video of the speech that was posted by Poilievre to X (formerly Twitter), he speaks generally about “common sense” and an end to “turbulence,” metaphorically speaking.

“Hello everyone, this is Pierre Poilievre. Very happy to join you on this WestJet flight back to my hometown of Calgary. Are you ready for a home you can afford? Who’s ready for some common sense,” Poilievre says in the video. “Who’s ready to give a big thank you to the WestJet pilot and crew. The pilot is warning of a little bit of turbulence, but it will only last about two years, at which time we will have a totally new crew and pilot in charge of the plane. We will get through the storm. Safely land, in our home, the country we know and love. Your home, my home, our home, let’s bring it home.”

Hussain slammed WestJet for putting the cabin crew in a position where they had to take a political stance, one that they may not even agree with.

“A plane’s cabin crew should never be put in a position of having to take a political stance. Giving Mr. Poilievre a platform showed bad judgement by WestJet. Mr. Poilievre showed bad judgement [by] taking that opportunity. It is the cabin crew who deal with passenger complaints. Westjet management and Mr. Poilievre should not have put them in that position,” Hussain’s statement reads.

“WestJet management and Mr. Poilievre owe passengers and crew an apology,” the statement concludes.

WestJet distances itself from stunt

In a statement on X, WestJet CEO Alex von Hoensbroech played down the event, saying that the plane was mostly filled with delegates that had attended the Conservative Party convention that took place in Quebec City this past weekend.

READ MORE: Poilievre’s rhetoric impresses many, but what about his policies?

At the same time however, he said that WestJet would be reviewing its policy on this issue.
“In response to the impromptu comments of Pierre Poilievre on one of our airplanes. This flight was specifically added to assist with demand for the CPC convention, and was largely filled with their delegates. The leader of the party was given the opportunity to greet delegates onboard (which is not unusual), but 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,” reads von Hoensbroech’s statement on X.

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Nick Seebruch

Nick Seebruch has been the editor of rabble.ca since April 2022. He believes that fearless independent journalism is key for the survival of a healthy democracy. An OCNA award-winning journalist, for...