Canada Post's 'made in U.S.A.' community mailboxes not government's responsibility: Tory MP

St. Vital area next to get Canada Post community mailboxes

The end of Canada Post’s door-to-door delivery service is all but a certainty at this point, despite ongoing community petitions and union legal challenges, but now even the matter in which the Crown Corporation phases into its new delivery strategy has come under fire.

For instance, why is Canada Post using community mailboxes designed in, and purchased from, the United States instead of offering Canadian companies a chance to profit from the unpopular transition?

That question was posed of the Conservative government on Monday, as Canada Post began installing community mailboxes and phasing out postal routes in large cities, including Calgary and Winnipeg..

In the House of Commons on Monday, Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureaux posed this question to the Conservatives:

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that it is this Prime Minister and this Conservative government who led the charge to get rid of door-to-door delivery. To make matters worse, we now have the government saying that Canadian companies are not even allowed to participate in the replacement of those community mailboxes.

The question is, why is the government not allowing Canadian companies to participate in the tendering process?

Lamoureaux is most likely referring to this Winnipeg Free Press article, which reports that Canada Post chose to use the same cluster mailboxes used by the United States Postal Service – which are only licenced to be manufactured by three American companies.

The contract ultimately was awarded to Florence Manufacturing in Manhattan, Kan., while a Canadian company with a history dealing with Canada Post, Rousseau Metal, was left out of the process.

Rousseau Metal celebrates its relationship with Canada Post, including them among the customer testimonials on its official website.

"Since the early 1960’s, Canada Post Corporation has benefited from an ongoing relationship with Rousseau Metal, a leader in the manufacturing of metal storage equipment,” the testimonial reads. “Rousseau manufactures Canada Post Relay Boxes, Street Letter Boxes and Community Mailboxes at competitive prices without compromising the quality of the products.”

In response to Lamoureaux’s question, Conservative MP Jeff Watson, the secretary to the Minister of Transport, did not directly address the purchase but said Canada Post is working at “arm’s length from the government in how it executes that particular plan.”

Last year, Canada Post announced a five-year strategy to revolutionize the struggling service. It was a five-point plan, the most contentious of which was a decision to phase out home mail delivery in cities.

Instead, neighbourhoods will be given community mailboxes, much like those already in use in rural areas. The process of phasing those community hubs began in earnest this week, when communities in Winnipeg, Calgary and Ottawa received their drop boxes.

The move comes shortly after the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, backed by groups representing the elderly and disabled, launched a legal challenge against the decision, which they claimed was unconstitutional.

The argument is that only the federal government can change the mandate it has issued to the Canada Post. If the challenge is successful, it would mean the Conservative government would need to run the changes through the House of Commons, an unpopular move that could turn into an election issue.

For the record, Canada Post says it is “confident" the move will stand up the legal scrutiny.

What doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, however, is this “made in the U.S.” solution to securing the community mailboxes that will be replacing Canadian mail carriers.

Why look across the border when there is a local alternative available? Especially one that boasts a strong, working relationship with the agency?