(Ottawa) Air carrier WestJet has come under fire after a video of Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre making an announcement aboard a flight went viral on social media.
“Hello everyone, this is Pierre Poilievre, happy to join you on a wonderful WestJet flight back to my hometown of Calgary,” Mr. Poilievre says to applause in the approximately one-minute video he posted Monday.
Mr. Poilievre repeats his lines of the moment. “Who is ready for common sense? » he says to the passengers standing at the front, holding in one hand the receiver of the public address system usually used by flight attendants.
The Conservative leader continues with a message “from your captain” which aims to inform of “a bit of turbulence, but it will only last about two years when you have a whole new crew and pilot in charge of the plane”.
It was enough to trigger an avalanche of reproaches on social networks. WestJet is accused of partisanship, faces calls for boycotts and is asked to show the door to employees who allowed Mr. Poilievre to speak.
“Can you imagine being on a plane and then being forced to listen to a Poilievre campaign speech,” asks one user on X (formerly Twitter).
In a response in English to questions asked in French, WestJet spokesperson Madison Kruger explains that the company added two flights between Western Canada and Quebec City to meet the demand that was expected for the congress of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) which was held there in recent days.
“The flight in question (in the video) was added to our schedule and announced as a flight serving the CCP convention,” she said in the email to The Canadian Press.
Use of WestJet’s aircraft public address system by people other than flight attendants is “infrequent” and reserved for “exceptional occasions (…) such as this.”
Moreover, this was “authorized in advance by WestJet operational management and until the final decision of the operations team”.
The airline specifies that it does not support any political party or organization.
But still on social networks, users are widely sharing a publication by the carrier’s big boss, Alexis von Hoensbroech, who posed at the beginning of the month alongside former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“Very informative and inspiring discussions,” he wrote. As a lifelong Calgarian, he has known WestJet since its beginnings and has been a great supporter of our company and our people. »
On the other hand, others had a message “to all the liberals who have lost their minds.” They reshared the video of former Liberal Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, who also made an announcement to passengers on a VIA Rail train in recent months.
Mr. Alghabra then informed passengers that he was going to Montreal to announce the launch of a call for tenders process to build a route linking Quebec to Toronto as part of the high-frequency train project.