By David Bush
On September 12, this past Friday, well over a 100 postal workers and supporters gathered at Conservative MP Lisa Raitt’s office in Milton, Ontario to say no to the cuts at Canada Post. Raitt is the Conservative Minister of Transportation, which overseas the Canada Post Corporation. The rally was organized by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) to hand deliver over 10,000 postcards from Canadians demanding that the government publicly review the cuts at Canada Post.
Donald LaFleur, the newly elected CLC executive Vice-President, told the rally that “this is part of the government’s drive to deregulate and privatize public services. But because reckless deregulation and privatization are so unpopular with Canadians, this government has been forced to pursue privatization quietly and dishonestly in secret.”
When Canada Post announced its planned cuts on December 11 of last year, it did so after parliament went on recess for the winter. It was later learned that Canada Post’s consultations on its plan to cut home delivery, eliminate roughly 8,000 jobs and raise postage rates were scant at best. This lack of public consultation and lack of planning explains the off-key and haphazard public defence of the cuts by Canada Post’s CEO Deepak Chopra, who infamously stated that seniors told him they wanted to walk to get their mail because they needed more exercise. Who these seniors were was never disclosed.
Elaine McMurray of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada stated, “the postal service is of primary importance to seniors across the country. It is not acceptable for any kind of elected official or heads of corporations to tell a senior, ‘it is ok you can walk to the place to get your letters because it is good exercise.'”
The President of CUPW, Denis Lemelin stated, “the public owns Canada Post. They have a right to input. It’s time to stop these cuts and talk about the future.”
“We need a public debate about the future of the post office. We have been trying to meet with Lisa Raitt since she was appointed as Minister of Transportation…but she is running from us. She is hiding from us. She is hiding from the public and she is hiding from the workers who provide this public service,” stated Lemelin.
On the following Saturday, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council kicked off its campaign to save home delivery and to stop the cuts at Canada Post by canvassing neighbourhoods in Etobicoke and Scarborough. On Saturday September 20, there will be a mass picket of Conservative MP Joe Oliver’s Toronto constituency office. Canada Post expects to strip ten postal codes of home delivery this fall, but it is clear this isn’t going to happen without a fight.
“Today, we are serving Lisa Raitt and the Tories notice that they can run but they can’t hide. Their support for postal cuts and failure to consult will be a major issue in the federal election in 2015,” said Lemelin.
Listen to an exclusive interview with Denis Lemelin, President of CUPW, here: