By David Bush
On Saturday September 20, hundreds of postal workers and their allies rallied outside of Conservative Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s constituency office in Toronto. The rally to Save Canada Post was organized by Socialist Action and endorsed by CUPW, CLC, OFL, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council and host of other national and local unions.
This was the second Conservative cabinet minister’s office to be targeted in as many weeks. On September 12 postal workers and their allies delivered over 10,000 postcards from Canadians demanding a public review of the planned cuts to Canada Post to the Conservative Minister of Transportation Lisa Raitt’s constituency office in Milton, Ontario.
Denis Lemelin, president of CUPW, told the the crowd, “we want a public debate and we want it now.”
“We have been fighting for the last six months, but will continue to fight until the Harper government stops and says we will have a public debate,” Lemelin said.
“We have to be involved in the next election, we have to be everywhere with all the public to save door-to-door, to save the public services,” said Lemelin.
Fred Hahn, the president of CUPE Ontario, noted, “this issue (cuts to Canada Post) is not just about unions, and it is not just about which party you vote for. It is about what it means to be a Canadian. These services matter. There have been questions about whether Canada Post is profitable. I’ve got to tell you, I don’t really care, because it is our public service.”
“This is about elections, but it is also about organizing. And organizing my friends is simple. You just have to talk to your friends, to neighbours and to your family members,” said Hahn.
“Because together, fighting in our communities we will save it (home delivery),” He said.
The main theme of all the speeches at the rally was to turn the cuts at Canada Post into an election issue in 2015. The Greater Toronto Area will be a key battle ground in the next election. The Conservatives hold 29 of the 44 seats in the GTA and could be vulnerable in many of the ridings precisely because of the cuts at Canada Post.
In the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, which is scheduled to lose home mail delivery this fall, the Coalition for an Accessible Public Postal Service held a townhall this week and is rolling out a broader campaign to halt the cuts. The Kanata South councillor Allan Hubley is a Conservative who supports the cuts at Canada Post. The Coalition, launched only a month ago, is targeting municipal politicians during the election and is calling upon Ottawa City Council to pass a resolution opposing the home delivery cuts.
Labour councils, CUPW locals and community groups across the country have been mobilizing since the cuts were announced last year. Will this be enough to stop the cuts? Time will tell.
Though polls show that most Canadians oppose the cuts at Canada Post, this opinion is unlikely to translate into an election issue or an end to the cuts without such organizing efforts aimed at mobilizing the broader public.
Marie Clarke Walker, the executive VP of the CLC, stated, “All of us need to take a stand. We need to take at least an hour a week. Go knock on your neighbours door, go get them to sign a petition, to write a letter to their councilor, to their MPP and to their MP.”
“If Harper doesn’t want to save door-to-door, let’s boot his ass out the door,” said Clarke.
Mike Palecek, a CUPW national representative, serenaded the crowd with his new anti-Harper song, click below to listen: