The leaders of all the federal parties must tell the public where they stand on the future of Canada Post and its decision to halt home mail delivery, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said Thursday.
Coderre avoided pointing the finger at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government is responsible for the Crown corporation, but the mayor rejected the argument that Ottawa cannot intervene in the operations of Canada Post.
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Harper is the only one of the four main federal leaders who hasn’t accepted the mayor’s invitation to discuss Montreal’s concerns and expectations.
“I want to know exactly what they are going to do with Canada Post,” the mayor told a news conference.
Coderre, meanwhile, called the Crown corporation “arrogant” for installing a concrete base for community mailboxes at the entrance to a Montreal nature park without consulting the local borough.
“I think it’s wrong the way that they’re acting,” he said. “That’s another concrete example when they were saying they were consulting…(but) they’re doing what they want.”
Later in the day, Coderre visited the site and was seen on live TV with a jackhammer as he enthusiastically began drilling into the concrete.
”The message we’re sending today is that Canada Post will respect us,” said Coderre, who was sporting a hard hat, safety boots and an orange and yellow reflective vest.
”It’s a nature park and we’re working hard to protect nature.”
He called Canada Post’s actions ”savage and arrogant” and promised to bill the corporation for the work involved in removing the concrete.
Coderre did not specify if he would mail the bill.
Canada Post issued a statement after the mayor’s first news conference to say it is ready to work with communities to find mailbox locations that are “safe, accessible and practical.”
The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois both came out against the concrete base.
“I think Canada Post shouldn’t intervene in cities without the agreement of each municipality around Quebec,” Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said as he campaigned in Laval, Que.
“This is what all the municipalities are asking for and we’re supporting that totally.”
Duceppe also slammed the federal government for making decisions that affect towns and cities in Quebec.
“Once again, it is not up to Ottawa to decide what happens in our municipalities,” he said. “It’s becoming an obsession. We’re seeing it with railways, we’re seeing it with pipelines and we’re seeing it with mailboxes.”
The brouhaha came a day after the national president of the postal workers union urged voters not to vote for Harper on Oct. 19.
Mike Palecek was speaking as angry postal workers greeted the Conservative leader’s arrival in Edmonton as part of a cross-country tour.
The tour comes four years after a nasty dispute between Canada Post and its workers led to rotating strikes, a lockout and ultimately back-to-work legislation.
Although the two sides eventually came to an agreement in 2012, the issue has lingered in the courts. The union’s charter challenge to the legislation is scheduled to be heard later this fall.
Palecek said the timing of the court case and the contract talks make the future of Canada Post an election issue.
Canada Post’s move to community mailboxes is expected to save the corporation about $500 million per year — an effort to cope with what the corporation says is a declining volume of mail in the digital age.
The NDP has vowed to reverse the cuts, while the Liberals have promised a moratorium on any cuts at Canada Post while they study the future of the corporation.
”We strongly disagree with Harper’s decision to ask Canadians to pay more for a reduced quality of service,” David McGuinty, the Liberal candidate in Ottawa-South, said in a statement Thursday.” Montreal, Laval, Longueuil and communities across the country are rightly speaking out on this government’s failure to consult and listen.”
With files from Peter Rakobowchuk