July 22nd, 2024

Absolute discharge for Hat woman who stood up for passenger on Fort McMurray flight

By Peggy Revell on July 11, 2017.

prevell@medicinehatnews.com @MHNprevell

A Medicine Hat woman was granted an absolute discharge for disrupting a flight out of Fort McMurray in 2015, after she stood up for another passenger she felt was the target of racism.

Alison Dunlop, 43, pled guilty to mischief Tuesday at the Medicine Hat Courthouse, and alongside an absolute discharge will pay $1,660 in restitution towards Air Canada.

Dunlop was originally charged with mischief and endangering the safety of an aircraft on Dec. 13, 2015, after Wood Buffalo Police responded to a report of a disruptive passenger on an Air Canada flight.

According to the statement of facts submitted to court, Dunlop had been sitting in the Fort McMurray airport lounge prior to her afternoon flight to Calgary, had a couple of drinks, and met for the first time a male passenger who would be her seatmate.

The plane was boarded, but take-off was delayed. Dunlop’s seatmate requested that he use the washroom, although the seatbelt sign was on, and was advised that he couldn’t by the flight attendant.

Dunlop and the passenger had noticed that four or five other passengers who happened to be white had used the washroom while the seatbelt light was on, and Dunlop surmised and remarked out loud that her fellow passenger had not been allowed to use the washroom because he was black.

“She believed then, and does now, that she was witnessing an injustice done to (the passenger),” reads the statement of facts, and that she is inclined to speak her mind, and at this time began to speak even louder than normal — using some profanity, and berated the male flight attendant who approached and cautioned her.

Due to the incident, the flight had to return to the terminal and was met by RCMP. Dunlop was uncooperative, and used rude and obscene language towards the officers.

The joint submission between Crown and defence is a “unique but appropriate” one said the Crown. Defence counsel noted that Dunlop has no prior record, and that both his client and the flight attendant could have conducted themselves better.

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