Free speech grounded: RCMP pulls plane down due to banner criticizing Stephen Harper


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) pulled a plane hired by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) back down to Rockcliffe Airport due to its political message on Saturday, September 1.

The PSAC had hired a plane (image attached) to fly over Ottawa and Gatineau with a trailing banner which read, in French, "StephenHarperNousDé", (Stephen Harper Hates Us). Over the previous two weeks the plane had been making the rounds over Montréal and other communities in Québec as part of the PSAC's "We Are All Affected" campaign. 

The plane left Ottawa's Rockcliffe airport on Saturday morning and had been up in the air for less than two hours before the RCMP instructed the pilot to return to the airport for an interrogation.

The RCMP stated that it needed to intervene due to the nature of the political message and because the plane entered restricted airspace around Parliament Hill. However, the pilot was fully aware of airspace restrictions in place in Ottawa and Nav Canada, Canada's air traffic control service, confirms that for the entire flight the PSAC-hired airplane remained outside the restricted zone.

Had the RCMP been concerned about the plane's potential route, it could have easily communicated with the pilot via radio and sought clarification rather than ordering it back down to the airport.

The PSAC believes that the RCMP terminated the flight for political reasons due to the banner, without taking the proper steps to adequately assess the situation.


Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.