Time to pri­va­tize Canada Post

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - OPINION - GRA­HAM LANE

I never thought I would ad­vo­cate for an end to Canada Post.

My ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was the first mail car­rier to carry mail by air in west­ern Canada. A let­ter from the then Post­mas­ter Gen­eral thank­ing him on his re­tire­ment graces a place in our home. My grand­fa­ther lived up to the old adage — through rain or snow, the mail al­ways gets through. A paci­fist, he served as a medic in the First World War. He ar­rived back from the war in the sum­mer of 1919, nine months af­ter ar­mistice, late enough to miss the Win­nipeg Gen­eral Strike and the un­fair fir­ing of Canada Post work­ers. Be­cause of him, and de­spite past labour problems and strikes, I have had a soft spot for mail car­ri­ers — till now.

Ev­ery week I look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing The Economist, a weekly U.K. mag­a­zine. For years, I got the print ver­sion. But, weekly de­liv­ery was ‘al­ways’ late. So late, that of­ten I got two editions on the same day, one be­ing over a week late. From gen­eral ob­ser­va­tion, con­firmed by fam­ily and friends, you can­not trust Canada Post for timely de­liv­er­ies. De­spite an on­go­ing rapid fall­ing in mail vol­umes (down 50 per cent over 10 years) , a let­ter sent to my ad­dress from an­other Win­nipeg ad­dress has taken a week or more to be de­liv­ered. Let­ters, bills, mag­a­zines, even ad­ver­tise­ments, vir­tu­ally never de­liv­ered on time.

Un­der Harper’s reign, Canada Post was, fi­nally, ad­dress­ing the problems. Then, the fed­eral plan was to rec­og­nize re­al­ity and end gen­eral house­hold mail for com­mu­nity post boxes. While that plan might not have ended the tar­di­ness of mail de­liv­ery, at least the sharp cost in­creases for stamps was ex­pected to end. But, Justin Trudeau stopped the move to com­mu­nity boxes, leav­ing a mix of ser­vice lev­els while costs and stamp prices con­tinue to climb.

As for the let­ter car­ri­ers and sorters, they have lost the pub­lic spirit that once, now long ago, ran through the com­ple­ment. Now, driven by a mil­i­tant union, we, the ‘cus­tomers’, cover very gen­er­ous wages and the cost of ul­tra-ex­pen­sive pen­sions (un­der­funded by $6 bil­lion). Canada Post is now for the em­ploy­ees and their union ex­ec­u­tive, no longer the vi­tal na­tional pub­lic ser­vice it was in my grand­fa­ther’s days.

It is time to end Canada Post’s ‘quasi mo­nop­oly’ of stan­dard mail de­liv­ery and, also, sell its ex­pen­sive par­cel op­er­a­tion (up 25 pe cent in 2017) to com­pet­i­tive free en­ter­prise firms.

Canada Post has out-lived its value, hav­ing long lost the loy­alty past ser­vice pro­vided.

The Wheat Board was sold off with­out farm­ers go­ing broke. The pri­va­ti­za­tion of Air Canada has led to more choices and bet­ter ser­vice. Time for Canada Post (in­cep­tion 1867, but still no ac­cu­mu­lated eq­uity) to fol­low their lead.

With the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ow­ing a tril­lion dol­lars, sell­ing the Post Of­fice would bring needed money and com­pe­ti­tion.

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