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Pierre Poilievre taking over WestJet flight's intercom draws ire of many Canadians: 'Ridiculously disappointing'

In videos posted on social media, Poilievre makes a 45-second campaign style speech using flight metaphors

WestJet is facing some strong reactions on social media after the airline allowed Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre to use the plane’s intercom to address passengers.

The Sunday flight was leaving from Quebec City, where Conservative delegates gathered this weekend for their convention, en route to Calgary.

In videos posted on social media, Poilievre makes a 45-second campaign style speech using flight metaphors.

“This is your captain warning there’s a little bit of turbulence but it will only last about two years,” Poilievre said. “In which time we’ll have a totally new crew and pilot in charge of the plane. We’ll pierce through the storm. We’ll safely land in our home, the country we know and love.”

While the flight was added to accommodate delegates returning home from the convention, it was a commercial flight and not a chartered one.

In an email statement to Yahoo News Canada, WestJet confirmed that Poilievre was granted permission to use the aircraft’s PA.

“To assist demand for the CPC convention, WestJet added two commercial flights for service between Western Canada and Quebec City,” the statement read. “The use of the PA microphone onboard our aircraft, while infrequent, maybe approved occasionally, for unique occasions and individuals, like this one. WestJet routinely adds capacity for conventions, sports, festivals and key events.”

Many people took to social media to vent about how they felt about the move. Among the most vocal was Canadian musician Jann Arden, who vowed to boycott the airline.

Some wondered why Westjet would allow such a partisan move.

Others didn’t see what the big deal was, with some suggesting it was great free advertising for WestJet:

Bryan Evans is a professor in the department of politics and public administration at Toronto Metropolitan University. He says in his nearly 50-year career following politics, he’s never heard of such a stunt, calling it “imprudent” on WestJet’s part. He says in light of all the reaction the situation is getting, the airline should give the same opportunity to other political parties.

Flying is uncomfortable enough without having to deal with that.

“If you’re going to do that, then the airline is obligated to give the other parties an opportunity to broadcast during a flight,” he tells Yahoo Canada. “This seems incredibly odd and a poor judgement call on the flight crew and maybe WestJet generally. Flying is uncomfortable enough without having to deal with that.”

He adds the fact that it was a public flight makes the situation different, regardless of if the majority of the flight were delegates from the Conservative convention. Evans says ultimately the controversy is a blip on the radar.

“The partisan advertising makes it a little bit unsavoury,” he says. “But ultimately it will be forgotten about by tomorrow. It has no political significance despite the airline maybe showing poor judgement.”