Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre took matters into his own hands in his battle against Canada Post’s plan to end door-to-door mail delivery in urban areas.
On Thursday, Coderre took a jackhammer to the concrete slab foundation that would be the base for community mailboxes in Parc l’Anse-à-l’Orme, on the western edge of the island. He said it was installed without authorization from the municipality.
He said Canada Post made assurances it would consult with municipalities before setting up the boxes but the mayor said the Crown corporation is “doing what they want, savagely and they’re arrogant.”
Coderre called the promise to collaborate “baloney.” Several mayors across Canada, including Ottawa’s Jim Watson and Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson, have expressed the same concerns.
“We are always willing to work with municipalities to find the best locations and discuss any concerns. Our goal is to find sites that are safe, accessible and convenient for the households in each neighbourhood,” said a statement from Canada Post in response to Coderre’s remarks.
In December 2013, Canada Post announced it would be phasing out door-to-door delivery over a five-year period in urban areas, resulting in a loss of 6,000 to 8,000 jobs.
Canada Post was experiencing “significant financial losses," the corporation said.
"If left unchecked, continued losses would soon jeopardize its financial self-sufficiency and become a significant burden on taxpayers and customers."
The announcement was met with disbelief and anger by many groups, including people with physical challenges and seniors. Municipal politicians have joined the chorus saying the boxes are subject to theft, vandalism and often attract litter.
As a result, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) teamed up with various groups, including many towns and cities, and mounted a class-action lawsuit to prevent the construction of new community mailboxes.
In May this year, Canada Post announced a pre-tax profit of $24 million for the first quarter of 2015, largely due to a boost in the price of postage and the increase in parcel traffic sparked by online shopping.
President and CEO Deepak Chopra told the Crown corporation's annual general meeting that "difficult choices” still need to be made and added that profits won’t bring back door-to-door service.
CUPW has launched a campaign to protest at every one of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s public appearances during the election campaign.
Coderre has challenged all the leaders of the major parties running in the election to state their position about home delivery.
Here’s a breakdown of various registered political parties and their stance on Canada Post and its changes:
CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA: Neither the party nor its leader has made clear pronouncements about the cuts, which is expected to save some $500 million per year. However, a spokesman from the office of Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, whose also responsible for Canada Post, has stated that Canada Post is an independent Crown corporation and is responsible for defending its operational decisions.
NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Released a statement saying it supports Coderre’s position and will restore home delivery service to anyone who lost it.
LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA: Pledged a moratorium on the cuts and would restore door-to-door home delivery service.
GREEN PARTY OF CANADA: Supports door-to-door delivery and “innovation” for Canada Post as well as expansion of postal banking services in order to benefit small and rural communities.
BLOC QUÉBÉCOIS: Sides with the CUPW against the cuts to service.
LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF CANADA: Favours any initiatives that make the postal service “more efficient and more accountable” including eliminating door-to-door service. In addition, the party would seek to end federal involvement in the delivery of mail.
COMMUNIST PARTY OF CANADA: Demands “full withdrawal of this plan to cut delivery services, raise prices and eliminate jobs.” It supports CUPW and its plan to expand postal banking.
CANADIAN ACTION PARTY: Keep Canada Post as a wholly-owned and operated federal entity. Maintain door-to-door service.
PROGRESSIVE CANADIAN PARTY: Any decision that directly affects the lives of the public should always go through a consultation phase first. This was not done with the cuts to postal service.