The Shotgun Blog
Monday, August 18, 2008
Is Canada Post on the chopping block?
In a recent column, the national director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, John Willamson, outlines a taxpayer-friendly agenda he’d like to see the Conservatives adopt. The agenda includes the privatization of crown corporations like VIA Rail, CMHC, Purolator Courier and Canada Post.
I assumed an agenda that included privatizing crown corporations like Canada Post was the equivalent to a child’s wish for a pony and world peace for Christmas.
A Green Party press release on Monday claims a Conservative panel established almost a year ago has been given a very broad mandate to review the merits of deregulating Canada Post.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May is quite concerned that Canada’s postal monopoly is at risk.
“The universal postal service Canadians enjoy is only made possible by the post office’s exclusive rights to letter service,” said May. “Canada is a vast, diverse country, and delivery costs for rural mail are many times higher than urban mail. Under deregulation, for-profit companies will focus on dense, profitable areas, leaving Canada Post with responsibility for delivery in costly rural areas while faced with declining revenues. This is a recipe for drastic service cuts to public postal services and increased costs to Canadians in rural and remote areas.”
Okay, so under this scenario rural people could possibly pay more for mail, while city folk pay more for...housing and parking, for instance. What’s the problem?
“The Harper government’s attitude toward Canada Post is not consistent with Canadian values...,” said May. So that’s the problem. Free enterprise is not a Canadian value.
Is indefinitely tolerating poor service by a government monopoly a Canadian value?
Answer the polling question:
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>"This is a recipe for drastic service cuts to public postal services and increased costs to Canadians in rural and remote areas.”
Service Cuts = Knife at the Throat of CUPW
I wish some of those Green Party trolls would come on here and explain how the Green Party isn't socialist.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-08-19 6:43:01 AM
Would this be the same Elizabeth May who wants to collude with the Liberal party to manipulate the results in one of the Nova Scotia ridings in the next federal election. Ms. May seems to be using the veil of the Green Party not to protect the environment (which I support) but to re-engineer the democratic process in her own likeness. It looks like she has learned very quickly the benefit of being a political whore.
Posted by: Dennis Wharton | 2008-08-19 7:52:52 AM
The issue is that people living in rural areas are often the people with the least disposable income. Money they DO have I'm sure would be better spent going to nutritious food, getting to work or putting their children through school.
Posted by: Moe | 2008-08-19 9:23:41 AM
Sell all this off and add the CBC to the list. Each one of these sputtering state owned enterprises also has its own minister and all the attached bureacracy and waste. China is dumping its state owned enterprises so get with the program.
Posted by: epsilon | 2008-08-19 9:24:30 AM
It would be rather nice not to have to drive through picket lines when Canada Post decides to go on strike. They already make a pretty good wage for "well" putting letters in my mailbox. The money saved could actually go to more "essential" services.
Posted by: glen | 2008-08-19 9:48:48 AM
As I started my summer work load in July, my mail man informed me that he was going to be off for five weeks holiday and wished me a good summer. I know he will have a good one. Five weeks paid vacation. My guess is that he probably has another week or two waiting for a winter break too.
I have a rather complex high skilled job with no benefits or protections. I am self-employed. What I do is important to my customers and there are very few people who can do my business. I am not complaining, I chose what I do and knew what I was getting into thirty years ago when I started up.
However, there is something wrong when a relatively unskilled, uneducated person who does nothing but deliver mostly useless advertising to my mail box, not only gets about five times more holidays (paid too, mine aren't) than I can have, and likely makes more money in the long run than I will when you include benefits and pensions and sick days etc. There is at least a seven year learning curve attached to my profession. What? ... seven weeks to become a postie?
The only downside of the postal job is that perhaps one may feel stupid that this is the best thing they can with their life. Not much of a downside when you consider how low everyone's expectations are of themselves and of others these days.
Unions are a high cost and and unfair system. Merit is the only way to go in a workplace.
If there actually was equal pay for work of equal value, posties would be making about 10 bucks an hour. In the world of electrons, snail mail is not important anymore. It's all on line.
Finally, I would be in favor of giving every postie in Canada a raise if it meant getting rid of the CBC.
Posted by: jvossos | 2008-08-19 10:21:20 AM
Getting rid of the Crowns and the CBC are a no-brainer. The only question is do the Conservatives have the guts to even talk about it let alone do anything about it.
Elizabeth May is a former? Red Tory.
Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-08-19 10:55:21 AM
Instead of being bitter about other peoples work, should we not try to make it better for everyone, yourself included? We all deserve vacation time and the assurance of care in our times of ill health.
I think there are bigger fish to dry than getting down on those 'posties'.
Where did you get your info about Elizabeth May?
Posted by: Moe | 2008-08-19 11:59:31 AM
to fry**!! ha!
Posted by: Moe | 2008-08-19 12:00:01 PM
Considering how the present government has increased spending, I have difficulty believing they will do anything to decrease the size of government. I wish it were otherwise but to date there is no evidence of it being so.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-19 12:13:06 PM
jvossos: the irony in this situation is you could actually apply at Canada Post for a letter carrier position, but you probably will never hear from them because you are " over qualified".
Posted by: glen | 2008-08-19 12:53:33 PM
Bang on everyone.
Speller: The green party is socialist without any doubt. Can you explain to us how Harper isn't a socialist?
Posted by: attitude | 2008-08-19 1:12:07 PM
Speller wrote: “I wish some of those Green Party trolls would come on here and explain how the Green Party isn't socialist.”
I’ve never been convinced that the Green Party is interested in a market-based approached to solving environmental problems. They look like a socialist party to me as well, Speller.
Let’s put this rural mail delivery issue in an environmental context: Does government-subsidized daily mail delivery to low density regions make sense? Think of the fuel costs associated with reaching each remote location. Why not mail delivery once a week, or once a fortnight?
And why should people who live in remote areas not expect to pay more? What about the “polluter pays” principle? Also, paying more for mail is a good incentive to rely more on email, online banking, etc. Let’s create the right incentives to reduce energy use.
The Green Party is embracing bad environmental policy in order to support a crown corporation that should be scraped altogether.
Thanks for your comment, Speller.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 1:34:47 PM
Dennis Wharton wrote: “Ms. May seems to be using the veil of the Green Party not to protect the environment (which I support) but to re-engineer the democratic process in her own likeness.”
And to protect a tired, old institution like Canada Post.
I look forward to buying one of those mini postal vans at the auction of Canada Post assets. I’ll be the Borat of the North.
Thanks for your comment, Dennis.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 1:41:02 PM
Moe wrote: “The issue is that people living in rural areas are often the people with the least disposable income. Money they DO have I'm sure would be better spent going to nutritious food, getting to work or putting their children through school.”
Sure, Moe, but the money I earn would also be better spent on nutritious food rather than subsidizing the rural lifestyle.
There are benefits to rural living -- affordable homes, cheap parking, privacy, etc. -- but there are also drawbacks -- less access to amenities due to remoteness and cost, for instance.
Thanks for your comment, Moe.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 1:49:13 PM
Epsi wrote: “Sell all this off and add the CBC to the list. Each one of these sputtering state owned enterprises also has its own minister and all the attached bureacracy and waste. China is dumping its state owned enterprises so get with the program.”
We finally agree on something, Epsi. :-)
Thanks for your comment.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 1:51:03 PM
Speaking of Canada Post and the evironment, I actually phoned a Canada Post office a few years ago to make a "no flyer" request, and submitted an argument about about saving our trees [and all that], and was told by them I "have" to accept the fliers. Imagine my delight.
Posted by: glen | 2008-08-19 1:53:28 PM
Glen wrote: “They already make a pretty good wage for...well, putting letters in my mailbox.”
Yeah. It doesn’t take much imagination to think that a private sector company could also manage the job of "putting letters in my mailbox.”
Thanks for your comments, Glen.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 2:05:55 PM
Jvossos wrote: “[T]here is something wrong when a relatively unskilled, uneducated person who does nothing but deliver mostly useless advertising to my mail box, not only gets about five times more holidays (paid too, mine aren't) than I can have, and likely makes more money in the long run than I will when you include benefits and pensions and sick days etc. There is at least a seven year learning curve attached to my profession. What? ... seven weeks to become a postie?”
This is a valid point, Jvossos. Government workers are now better compensated than private sector workers and have much better pension benefits.
It’s a kind of class warfare.
See my post on this subject here:
“Bureaucrat running dogs take a bigger bite”
Thanks for your comments, Jvossos.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 2:13:06 PM
John Chittick wrote: “Getting rid of the Crowns and the CBC are a no-brainer. The only question is do the Conservatives have the guts to even talk about it let alone do anything about it.”
This will be an interesting test for the Conservatives. They have yet to spend any political capital on a fight that would meaningfully reduce the size and scope or government.
Even in the area of arts funding, the Conservatives have spent more than the Liberals, introduced a silly proposal to give the Heritage Minister new powers, and then made only tiny cuts during the quiet summer months.
It’s time for a real show of conservative, limited government principle: sell Canada Post.
Thanks for your comments, John.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 2:28:00 PM
Moe wrote in response to a comment by Jvossos that: “Instead of being bitter about other peoples work, should we not try to make it better for everyone, yourself included? We all deserve vacation time and the assurance of care in our times of ill health.”
There is no such thing as a free lunch, Moe. The lifestyle enjoyed by Canada Post employees is paid for by people like Jvossos. And while he doesn’t sound bitter to me, he does have a right to resist playing the role of healthy host to a parasitic political class.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 2:52:54 PM
Alain wrote: “Considering how the present government has increased spending, I have difficulty believing they will do anything to decrease the size of government. I wish it were otherwise but to date there is no evidence of it being so.’
I’m sceptical as well, Alain, but remain hopeful.
My biggest fear is some botched attempt at deregulation that turns the whole thing into a mess. Canada Post needs to be sold and the letter mail monopoly needs to be dismantled for this to work properly for consumers.
Half measures almost never work.
Thanks for your comment, Alain.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-19 2:54:13 PM
May was an executive assistant or reasonable facsimile to Tom McMillan, former Mulroney Environment Minister. She funneled inside info to the greens to help create South Moresby National Park. This did not endear her to those of us on the Coast in the forest sector.
Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-08-19 3:16:42 PM
Matthew, you are correct of course that half measures will not do it. That is exactly how we ended up with Crown corporations. Anyway I shall believe it when I see it.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-19 6:41:00 PM
I work for canada post and i am amazed at the fact that the goverment is spending 5 billion dollars to upgrade facilitys accross canada and they are trying to sell us that this is the Moderen post and this is good.
i bet they loose alot of our tax payer dollars if they sell
the corporation would make more money if they would treat there employee's like humans today they paid a supervisor a daily wage to sit and watch drivers leaving the buiding they where checking to see if they where wearing there seat belts
yes we get paid good and have good benifits
for those of you that think that our job is easy just try walking up to 700 mailboxs up stairs in -35 and see how you like the job would you do the job for minimum wage
Posted by: joe | 2008-08-19 6:58:15 PM
Regarding the Crowns.
Fire. Them. All.
If it isn't an essential service, why is government doing it at all, unless the marxist crap shoved down our throats since the sixties has been the goal all along.
Start with the Canada Posts that compete with the private sector for capital, revenue and labor.
Fire every single federal bureaucrat 'employed' in provincial jurisdictions, starting with health and education.
I am mad as hell about being a half-slave, with 50% of gdp consumed by too much government.
Posted by: Dana | 2008-08-19 7:08:00 PM
Joe, have you ever seen children deliver fliers in - 35? I have. But hey, if you can get a job that pays that well for being a postie all the power to you.
Posted by: glen | 2008-08-19 7:11:03 PM
Sell all this off and add the CBC to the list. Each one of these sputtering state owned enterprises also has its own minister and all the attached bureacracy and waste.
Posted by: epsilon | 19-Aug-08 9:24:30 AM
Excellent idea but why stop there. Let's also privatize the police, the prison system and the the Coast Guard. We can get rid of the army and hire the Gurkha's on contract. We can close down the Mint and get Parker Bros. to print our money. We'll privatize all the roads and put tolls on them.
Posted by: The Stig | 2008-08-19 10:45:14 PM
I have no problem with getting rid of the mint. We already lease a lot of military equipment and we contract out maintenance to the private sector although it is rife with political interference.
Cities contract policing to the RCMP so why not do an IPO on the RCMP? I would have no problem with them whacking their massive bloated bureacracy and turning a profit on photo radar, seized goods and security contracts. Obviously there are performance terms and conditions between cities and RCMP service contracts right now so nothing needs to change in terms of service levels.
Posted by: epsilon | 2008-08-19 11:22:49 PM
I especially agree with more toll charges on roads. Lower my taxes and let those that use the roads pay for them. Think how this would reduce traffic and speed up my commuting (oh shit! its a photo radar!) as well as increase public transit which would pay a cheap bulk rate toll.
Posted by: epsilon | 2008-08-19 11:27:57 PM
Right on Epsi. With that philosophy being true, we should move right along to health care, education etc. Keep the food supply privatized (or it'll end up like our health care). Important things are no place for the dweebs in government.
Oh, for the definition of dweeb, go to Dion or Solberg (who is a fake libertarian by the way).
Posted by: attitude | 2008-08-19 11:32:09 PM
I especially agree with more toll charges on roads. Lower my taxes and let those that use the roads pay for them.
Posted by: epsilon | 19-Aug-08
What would you suggest the people that paid for those roads with their taxes should do? Get a free pass for a year? Get a refund when the road is sold? It's an interesting question because the roads that you drive on right now were paid for by someone else.
Posted by: The Stig | 2008-08-20 12:02:12 AM
>"It's an interesting question because the roads that you drive on right now were paid for by someone else."
The Stig | 20-Aug-08 12:02:12 AM
They sure were paid for by someone else, because #5 isn't even a Canadian citizen.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-08-20 6:40:25 AM
>"Speller: The green party is socialist without any doubt. Can you explain to us how Harper isn't a socialist?"
attitude | 19-Aug-08 1:12:07 PM
What, do you have a tapeworm?
Does Harper's plan to allow Canadians to start $5K/annum bank savings accounts that are exempt from taxation, in 2009, sound socialist to you, ratitude?
How about allowing daycare funds to be directly alloted to households instead of State approved daycares, is that socialism or are you just ignorant?
I know, you'll say that collecting the taxes for daucare funds is socialist, or funding daycare at all or in any case is socialist, but then you don't know what socialism is.
Not all welfare is socialism and the common welfare is society's interest even if you prefer a rat race, ratitude.
Posted by: Speller | 2008-08-20 6:55:35 AM
Yes, we taxpayers paid for existing roads. These roads would be sold off to the private sector who then charge tolls, undertake maintenance and provide upgrades acording to whatever service agreement is put in place. These proceeds of sale are returned to the taxpayers. The taxpayer gets their money back. Users of the asset pay for the asset. Cars are taken off the roads as more people use public transit (which also must be sold off), air quality improves and economic efficicincy improves.
Posted by: epsilon | 2008-08-20 8:43:37 AM
My chief concern regards the unregulated privatization of Canada Post is that mail is an essential service and private enterprise has the right to charge any amount they desire for their services. There is no serious talk about ending the government monopoly on soldiers, policemen, firemen, and other essential services.
Granted, market forces would probably conspire to keep the cost at least bearable for most of us. In fact, with the lower wages a private concern could pay, we might come out ahead. (And the employees could probably make do with less, as they'd have no union dues to pay.) But what if the company suddenly ceases operation?
Like any good freedom-loving Westerner, I think there are a lot of businesses the government should get out of. However, I'm not convinced that mail delivery is one of them.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-08-20 10:35:11 AM
Mail is no more an essential service than is the provision of telephone, water, power or heating services.
All of these are privately run (although Epcor is a corporation owned by the City). But in any event, if you do not pay the bill, you do not get your so called essential service.
Same goes for the mail which is far cheaper than ay of these other essential services anyway.
Shane, are you turning socialist?
Posted by: epsilon | 2008-08-20 11:12:22 AM
Actually, Epsi, it can be argued that without mail you would be deprived of your democratic rights. You see, you would be unable to write to your elected officials. The government, in all its forms from the police to the schools, would likewise have no reliable way to contact you. Mail is a lot more important than many people think.
Socialist? Hah. I'm not against privatizing mail delivery in theory. But we should only do it if we stand to gain something by it, not just for the sake of privatizing it.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-08-20 3:05:52 PM
For the past three millenia, the two institutions that every strong state, healthy state possessed was an army and postal system.
History shows that the Roman Empire soared to greatness when Augustus set up the Cursus Publicus (Imperial messenger service (that delivered both private and government mail)) and crumbled about the same time that it was 'francised' to private parties.
The Saracen Empire thrived for 300 years due, in part, to an imperial postal service that covered an area stretching from modern-day Spain to Iraq.
The US industrial Revolution exploded as the US Post Office went to the penny-stamp model (dropping the price of a piece of mail from 25 cents to 1 cent).
Western Canadian settlement was partially facilitated through the presence of postal services (that delivered personal correspondence and business documents to and from the frontier).
Now with the melt-down of email as a creditable delivery alternative, divesting this key part of our nation's infra-structure makes as much sense as privatizing the military (which mercinaries would also run more efficiently).
And no, I am not a tree-hugging socialist nor work for CPC. I actually work for some of the largest mailers in the private sector.
Posted by: mrprtr | 2008-08-20 9:31:16 PM
Since the drug can affect sleeping patterns it should not be taken late in the day.
Posted by: nomasreggaeton | 2009-03-23 6:03:21 AM
There is nothing I receive from Canada Post that I cannot receive in digital format.
I honestly no longer require a mailbox.
I no longer receive any newspaper or magazines as I can fulfill these interests on-line. I now pay 100% of my bills electronically. I have not sent or received a personal letter in the mail for 3 or 4 years since I can send all manner of photos, videos and text on-line. I discontinued my land line last year since I use Skype or my cell for everything.
If I am planning on physically going to a store to purchase an item, I usually check on line first and even download brochures and coupons that I may want to use. I am never, ever going to waste my time to sort through a pile of flyers on the off-chance that they may have something I am shopping for. I view flyers as nothing but physical spam.
The need for Canada Post to exist is lost.
Posted by: epsilon | 2009-03-23 11:30:14 AM
YOUR need for Canada Post no longer exists, epsi. Not everyone is as computer savvy as you are. I pay most of my bills online, but the government still has to mail most of its forms, such as GST, payroll remittance, etc. Until every gov. agency, every business, and every household gets onto this online stuff, we should probably hold onto this old horse.
Posted by: dp | 2009-03-23 1:14:17 PM
Trust the government to still be using snail mail when 90% of business makes payments to people via direct deposit.
For those rare cases where the mail has to be used for someone that does not have a bank account (doncha think this would be an incentive to get one?), use a courier service.
Otherwise, create incentives to get off hard copy since the savings are enormous and start a plan to get rid of Canada Post.
It's going to happen anyway, at least plant for it.
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