"Bad judgement": Union calls out WestJet for Poilievre's in-flight speech

Sep 13 2023, 6:27 pm

Pierre Poilievre’s speech onboard a recent WestJet flight to Calgary has sparked backlash from the union that represents the airline’s cabin crew.

The original video was shared on X (formerly Twitter) on September 10 and shows the Conservative party leader at the front of the WestJet flight addressing his fellow passengers on the in-flight PA system.

On Wednesday, Alia Hussain, president of CUPE Local 4070, posted a statement expressing the union’s disappointment with WestJet’s decision to allow Poilievre to address the flight.

“It’s very disappointing that WestJet management let a politician use the public address (PA) 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,” stated Hussain.

“The cabin crew had no input into this decision. WestJet’s own work rules state clearly that no one other than operating crew are to use the public address system.”

Hussain added that WestJet “showed bad judgment” by providing Poilievre with a platform, and the Conservative party leader “showed bad judgment 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,” noted Hussain.

WestJet’s explanation

In previous statements to Daily Hive, WestJet noted that it added two commercial flights from service between Western Canada and Quebec City “to assist demand” for the Conservative party’s convention last week.

“WestJet routinely adds capacity for conventions, sports, festivals, and key events,” said the airline.

WestJet also noted that the flight was advertised with the information that it was serving the CPC convention.

“As it was a commercial flight, however, guests who booked the flight were not required to indicate if they were attending the convention and therefore we are unable to determine if there were guests on board who were not attending.”

The airline also clarified who is allowed to use its PA system.

“The use of the PA microphone onboard our aircraft, while infrequent, may be approved occasionally, for unique occasions and individuals, like this one,” stated a WestJet spokesperson.

WestJet to “revise policy”: CEO

Hussain, however, said that the flight’s PA system should only be used to provide passengers with information they “need and require.”

“The crew is responsible for the safety of everyone on board, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

The union is demanding an apology from the airline.

On Wednesday, WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech issued a statement regarding the incident.

He reiterated that flights were added to meet demand for those travelling to and from the convention.

“This flight was specifically added to assist with demand for the CPC convention and was largely filled with their delegates,” he stated.

Von Hoensbroech added that allowing Poilievre to speak was not a “political endorsement.”

“We are non-partisan by nature and will revisit our policy on this,” he said.

Simran SinghSimran Singh

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