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OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says the union representing WestJet cabin crew should apologize for trying to silence free speech.
Poilievre used the public announcement system to give a 45-second speech on Sunday night on board a WestJet plane that was headed to Calgary from Quebec City after the Conservative party convention.
After video of the speech circulated online, CUPE Alberta's local 4070 president said it was disappointing the airline allowed a politician to use the PA system and that cabin crew had no input in the decision.
The union wanted WestJet and Poilievre to apologize for putting the cabin crew in that situation.
Speaking in Vancouver on Thursday, Poilievre saidthe cabin crewasked him to speak multiple times on that flight, and the union should be the one apologizing.
"I think that the union should apologize for trying to silence freedom of speech. The crew invited me to give a speech and they did that multiple times," Poilievre said.
"And I think it's because people who work on airplanes, people who work in restaurants, people who work building things love my message."
WestJet's CEO said Wednesday that the flight was specifically added to the schedule because of extra demand related to the convention and that most of the passengers were Conservative delegates.
Still, he also said they'd revisit the policy.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre lashes out against @WestJet union for trying to 'silence' free speech. #cdnpoli
"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," Alexis von Hoensbroech wrote in his own statement on X.
"We are non-partisan by nature and will revisit our policy on this."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.