An­other vow Trudeau should break

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION - John Roe

Justin Trudeau has been ham­mered in the court of pub­lic opin­ion for break­ing his elec­tion prom­ise to change how Cana­di­ans vote.

The prime min­is­ter should be ready to be pum­meled again and break his rash cam­paign vow to stop phas­ing out door-to-door mail de­liv­ery.

His gov­ern­ment will de­cide this spring whether to sup­port Canada Post’s des­per­ate business sur­vival plan or bow to a Com­mons com­mit­tee that rec­om­mends restor­ing home de­liv­ery — but only to those who lost it in the year be­fore the 2015 elec­tion.

What­ever his ver­dict, we call on him to jus­tify it with fact-based ev­i­dence, to show a sus­tain­able way for Canada Post to con­duct its op­er­a­tions and to be guided by good pol­icy in­stead of crass pol­i­tics.

That Canada Post has made an ex­cel­lent case for re­plac­ing home de­liv­ery with com­mu­nity mail­boxes should sur­prise no one who has watched new dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies dis­rupt the world.

Since 2006 — thanks largely to email and other elec­tronic op­tions for com­mu­ni­cat­ing — Canada Post’s vol­ume of let­ter de­liv­ery has dropped by 32 per cent. That’s a lot less rev­enue. Ac­cord­ing to its man­date, Canada Post is sup­posed to be able to fund the ser­vices it pro­vides without tax­payer sub­si­dies. Not sur­pris­ingly, Canada Post de­ter­mined the only way it could do this was to re­place home de­liv­ery with com­mu­nity mail boxes.

Last fall, a fed­eral task force en­dorsed Canada Post’s plan. But the Lib­eral-dom­i­nated Com­mons com­mit­tee later con­cluded Canada Post should stop phas­ing out home de­liv­ery and re­store it to 350,000 ad­dresses that lost it in the year be­fore Trudeau came to power. How­ever, far more house­holds — 480,000 — were de­prived of that very ser­vice in the year be­fore and would not get it back. Mean­while, it has been largely un­con­tested pol­icy since the late 1980s to re­quire new homes and sub­di­vi­sions to ac­cept those com­mu­nity mail boxes. When Canada Post be­gan its lat­est round of in­stalling com­mu­nity mail boxes, only a third of Cana­di­ans still re­ceived door-to-door de­liv­ery.

If Trudeau be­lieves home mail de­liv­ery should be a uni­ver­sal so­cial ser­vice in Canada, some­thing ev­ery house­hold has a right to ex­pect, he should re­store home de­liv­ery to all who lost it in re­cent years and ex­tend it to those who lack the ser­vice to­day.

If those with dis­abil­i­ties, the in­firm and the el­derly who lost home de­liv­ery just prior to the last elec­tion must have it re­stored, it is only fair that it be pro­vided to all the peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, in­firm and el­derly in this coun­try who cur­rently strug­gle to reach a com­mu­nity mail box.

In ad­di­tion, Trudeau must show how Canada Post would pay for the restora­tion of home de­liv­ery. The cor­po­ra­tion es­ti­mates it can save up to $400 mil­lion a year with its plan. If Trudeau sticks with home de­liv­ery, for some lucky peo­ple at least, how will he keep Canada Post from run­ning the deficits it is for­bid­den to in­cur?

Or is he will­ing to change the law and have tax­pay­ers sub­si­dize a ser­vice fewer of them use ev­ery day and when the needs of health care, pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and our First Na­tions re­main un­met?

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