by David Bush and Doug Nesbitt
Fourteen months have passed since Canada Post announced its radical overhaul of the postal service.
Canada Post is still sticking to its plans of eliminating home delivery across the country, cutting 8,000 jobs, jacking up prices, and closing sorting depots across the country. In fact, Canada Post has accelerated the number of home delivery cuts in 2015 in anticipation of the federal election. They want this project to feel inevitable, no matter who wins the election.
The privatization plan remains the same: cut services to the bone, and raise prices to lower public support, and then sell off the most profitable elements of the service. Then it will making money for private hands, with no direct parliamentary oversight, or a mandate to serve the public.
But opposition has popped up across the country. Local town halls have been packed. Dozens and dozens of municipal governments have passed motions protesting the loss of home delivery. And people are canvassing and campaigning across the country to save home mail delivery.
Montreal and Hamilton
Montreal and Hamilton continue to be hotbeds of opposition. Hamiltonians recently packed a community centre to hear a town hall on the issues. The City Council continues to say No to Community Mail Boxes (CMBs) and is determined to block them. It continues to point out that the superboxes will create new costs for the city and put the burden directly on municipal taxpayers.
Montreal’s Liberal mayor Denis Coderre – who is no friend of unions – is also strongly opposed to the CMBs. There is wide public support for saving home delivery in the city. The Montreal Industrial Workers of the World and their supporters again occupied a Montreal sorting depot on February 16. The first time was October 17.
The London Canvassing Campaign
In London, Ontario a new canvassing campaign is beginning to haunt two Tory MPs. A handful of residents have formed Londoners for Door-to-Door. They are signing up postal workers for weekend canvassing in north and west London; areas slated to lose home delivery this year.
London Tory MPs Ed Holder and Susan Truppe have followed their party’s lead in staying quiet on home delivery because they know it is a serious weakness. But this recently changed when Holder in London West called up the London CUPW executive for a meeting to talk home delivery. Holder was only first elected in 2008 and provincially, London West has turned NDP since 2013. And Susan Truppe in London North Centre only narrowly won her first election in 2011.
The Tories know that canvassing on home delivery and the information gathering by activists is the type of grassroots work that will defeat them. The home delivery cuts remain a serious political weakness for the Tories. Opposition cuts right across party lines.
The London campaign has also pushed the City’s Civic Works Committee to direct Canada Post to delay CMB implementation. More recently, the City Council passed a motion demanding Canada Post hold public consultations and study how other cities are dealing with CMB implementation. The motion isn’t tough enough, but it’s a start. And Londoners for Door to Door are not letting the motion placate them. They’re now putting pressure on council to release the information about CMB locations given to them by Canada Post.
The Long Game
The London campaign is working because it is targeting people about to lose home delivery in a Tory riding. Canvassing can hurt the Tories in any riding, while pushing NDP and Liberal MPs to commit to reversing the Canada Post cuts. The campaign is also putting pressure on mayors and municipal councillors to wake up to the costs borne by municipalities and taxpayers. Hamilton and Montreal need to be joined in their effort to oppose CMB installation and the loss of local well-paying jobs in every town and city.
But canvassing can lead to burnout. Canvassing should try to cover specific neighbourhoods facing home delivery cuts for three or four Saturdays or Sundays in a row. Teams of two – one postal worker, one resident – can be expected to knock on 20 doors in two hours. After a month of canvassing, the campaign can shift gears to hold a town hall in the neighbourhood just canvassed. A social/fundraiser or a skill-building campaign workshop can be organized, and there can be other creative actions like info pickets, mail-ins and demonstrations. In the meantime, a new affected area can be scouted and scheduled for the next canvassing blitz.
The fight to save home delivery is going to involve long-term work, but canvassing cannot be ignored. It is the door-to-door work where real conversations happen, contact information is exchanged, and seeds planted for a revolt against the Tories. From coast to coast, there’s plenty of opposition and anger brewing. Here’s what’s been happening since New Years.
But first, in case you missed it…
- The Tories say Canada Post is arms-length and they have no say over what it does. Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt then decided to stop Canada Post employees from having free tickets to pro sports events.
- Canada Post costs taxpayers nothing. But Tory partisan mailouts are costing taxpayers.
- Canada Post Says: Carry your junk mail home from your CMB to prevent litter
Windsor, Ontario: 81-year-old gets eight stitches after fall at uncleared CMB
Edmonton: Canada Post is screwing up mailouts about new CMB locations
Surrey, BC: End of Home Delivery sees rise in CMB break-ins
Halifax: Security and lock problems plague new CMBs
Prince Albert, SK: Door-to-door mail delivery gets unanimous support
Thorold, ON: Thorold city council is fighting end of home delivery
Hamilton, ON: City and Canada Post set for showdown
Victoria, BC: City worried CMB costs will be downloaded
Ingersoll, ON: Ingersoll city council petitioning Canada Post to keep home delivery
Clarington, ON: City sides with CUPW: Council votes against Canada Post cuts
Saskatoon: City councillors want more information on CMBs, some oppose outright
Truro, NS: Councillors say Canada Post failing to clear snow from CMBs
Thunder Bay, ON Thunder Bay mail theft affects up to 200 residents
Port Alberni, BC: City council backs CUPW and opposes cuts to home delivery