An Air Canada B787 pilot based in Montreal found out on Monday that his constitutional freedom of expression has limits when he was taken ‘out of service’ for his presence a pro-Palestinian demonstration, holding signs that said “F*ck you Israel. Burn in hell” and “Hitler is proud of you.”
Social media posts and accounts of Mostafa Ezzo were first flagged by an online group called Stop Anti Semitism on X. The group posted a couple of pictures that allegedly featured Ezzo at pro-Palestine rallies holding anti-Israel signs and claimed them to be from Ezzo’s social media accounts.
Ezzo remains on staff but is now “grounded.” A statement from Air Canada on X, formerly Twitter, added: “We are aware of the unacceptable posts made by an Air Canada pilot. We are taking this matter very seriously, and he was taken out of service on Mon, Oct. 9. We firmly denounce violence in all forms.”
“We did this because this individual’s opinions and publications on social media do not represent Air Canada’s views in any way. This person has never been authorized to speak publicly while identifying themselves as an Air Canada employee.”
The issue raises concerns over the value of freedom of expression in Canada and if the country’s employment laws provide much protection in such a sensitive matter.
“Canada has Freedom of Expression, yes, but unlike the U.S. it has a check on it. Hate Laws, Speech Laws, etc.”
“If there’s something defamatory on the image it can qualify as hate speech and then the employment law won’t protect you. Perhaps, that becomes a valid and contested point from the employer side,” said Employment Law experts Randy Ai.