News / Ottawa

Pilot says he felt 'harassed' by RCMP for anti-Harper banner

The pilot who was grounded by the RCMP on Saturday after his plane carried an anti-Harper banner says he was harassed by the officers who questioned him at the Rockliffe Airport.

Gian Piero Ciambella, owner and chief pilot of Aerogram Media, a Quebec-based aerial advertising company, said RCMP officers thought he breached the restricted airspace because his banner was “very big, very visible” from Parliament Hill.

He was hired by the Public Service Alliance of Canada to fly the banner which read "StephenHarperNousDeteste.ca" for a union campaign.

“According to them, they thought I went through the restricted airspace (but) NAV Canada would have told me if I did," said Ciambella.

“I was aware of that space even before I came here."

He said his flight over Gatineau and Ottawa was supposed to last about three hours, but it was cut short just before two hours had passed when he was instructed to land at the Rockliffe Airport.

He said RCMP asked him who he was and what company he worked for.

“I’m earning an honest living and I’m being harassed as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “They considered that a hatred message toward Stephen Harper. They don’t want me in Ottawa with that message.”

Julie Vaux, press secretary with the prime minister's office, said in an email to Metro, “Any accusations the RCMP was politically directed is absolutely false and misleading.”

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