Mr. Bernard Dumont (Frontenac):
Mr. Speaker, a moment ago when I heard the member for Saint-Henri (Mr. Loiselle) say that people cannot breathe or live in Montreal any more, I fully agreed With him. It is probably because they vote for the Liberal party.
Later, I heard the member for Laval (Mr. Roy) say that all the members from the Island of Montreal were present this evening. I counted exactly three of them. Either the member for Laval cannot count, or he wants to make fun of postal employees. We all know that the member for Laval often laughs at farmers, but I hope he will not go so far as making fun of postal employees.
We have before the House today a motion of censure involving the Post Office and Communications Department. I would like above all tonight-as it will soon be midnight-to explain why such an explosive situation prevails in Montreal.
The department and the minister have tonight been accused of all the world's sins. It is true that the minister may suffer from political far-sightedness particularly when he states that we have only up to 1975 to bring order to the Post Office.
Perhaps he feels more comfortable in the Department of Communications from where he can better contemplate the vast spaces and dream of glamorous projects to be realized around the year 2,000. However, he should be more realistic and prove that he has his feet on the ground by settling the problems cropping up in 1970.
[DOT] (11:30 p.m.)
Thanks to him, since the revision of the postal rates, several newspapers and magazines which made it possible to bring culture to all the regions of the country have folded, and that has caused dissatisfaction throughout Canada.
Today, the labour union are aware of this problem. These magazines reached the people before the revision of the postal rates at a fair price and allowed some degree of culture to reach all the regions of the country. By
Montreal Postal Strike wanting to put his department on a profitearning basis, the minister is, on the contrary, accumulating a deficit which is said to be this year of the order of $70 million. Thus, the Postmaster General and Minister of Communications is automatically responsible for that dissatisfaction and for the very explosive situation that prevails in the Montreal region.
However, I suspect that several of his Liberal friends, who want his head, led him to believe that it might be possible to get the Post Office and Communications Department to pay its way, knowing that it will be difficult for him to get out of this tight spot.
And, as though to rejoice about his attitude, they advised him to increase rates, a move designed to make him so unpopular with the population that he would be forced to resign.
I must admit that the Postmaster General and Minister of Communications has had the courage to do away with patronage, particularly in rural and semi-rural communities. Small town post offices, for example, and contracts awarded for rural mail delivery are not subject to patronage as they used to be.
At least, he has this to his credit, and we hope that he has not done away with this patronage, only to replace it by another less palatable one, as we see now in Montreal, by wanting to divide up contracts in four and, possibly reduce the efficiency of the Union representing the postal employees. By reducing the Union's power, he is fueling the explosive anger that we are now experiencing.
On the other hand, a company that has submitted a tender under a fictitious name, in Montreal, leaves us nonplussed. I hope the minister will not let this patronage practice that we meet far too often, take root in Montreal.
In the field of postal service, priority should be given to the immediate needs. It is not by pretending to ignore the problems and trying to find patched-up solutions that we shall solve the problem on a permanent basis.
Besides, relying on attrition to settle a question is not a viable formula. Instead of letting his mind run upon satellites and computers and of dreaming of making his postal empire competitive with the big telecommunication corporations, the Minister should do his utmost to solve the pressing problem of mail delivery, which is appalling everywhere totally non-existent in Montreal.
The hon. Minister wanted to simplify a problem which seemed unsolvable and try an
February 18, 1970
Montreal Postal Strike accounting type of approach. He first decided to raise postal rates. Then, he did away with mail delivery on Saturday. Then, as a next step, he denied to a great number of publications the privilege to remain in the category to which they ought to belong, thus raising a general outcry. As for us, from the Rallie-ment Creditiste, we had at that time, warned the hon. Minister against his mistakes. I have here a statement from the Committee of fair postal rates and if union representatives are not satisfied with the administration of the Postmaster General and Minister of Communications, I would say that they are not the only ones in Montreal. Also, among others, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Society of Public Welfare, the Union CoOperative of Canada, grouping ten other organizations, which are the Canadian Association of Home Economics, the Canadian Consumers Association, the Canadian Association of Industrial Editors, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Indian and Eskimo Association, the Canadian Council of Urban and Regional Research, the Canadian Federation of Professional Women's Clubs, the Canadian Federation of Teachers, the Chemistry Institute of Canada and the Scouts of Canada have expressed their dissatisfaction to the minister. The responsibility for the explosive conflict in Montreal is not that of the unions alone since all the organizations that I have just mentioned had warned the Minister that the situation was deteriorating.
What had they recommended to correct the situation that we are now experiencing and to stop the criticism to which the Minister is subjected? First of all, they had asked that third class rates applicable to organization publications be brought back to the level of the second class commercial publication rates. As the Minister claims that commercial publications are now paying their fair share, there
is apparently no justification for charging higher rates to organization publications when the handling of such mail is the same in both cases. They had then asked that the periodicals of associations be considered as a separate group within the third class mail.
Finally they wished that the present rate classification of 10,000 emits for bulk delivery be lowered further to the same level as before, with regard to the rules for third class mail. Since the minister refused to comply with those requests, he caused dissatisfaction throughout Canada. All those organizations are almost happy to witness this explosive situation and the minister does not get any sympathy. Seeing he refuses to admit all those facts, there is only one thing left for the minister to do. He should have the courage to do what the ex-Minister of Transport (Mr. Hellyer) did and resign from his post.
His refusal to admit his mistake has created an intolerable and disastrous situation which, to my mind, can become very dangerous because of the abuses it could lead to from both sides.
Finally, as several of his colleages and so-called liberal friends want his hide at all cost, because his good friend Rene Levesque, former member of the liberal party, does not protect him, he should like the former Quebec Minister of Justice and the former Minister of Transport, resign from his post in order to be able to leave the liberal party with dignity and say: "I leave happy."
Topic: MOTION TO ADJOURN UNDER S.O. 26 POST OFFICE MONTREAL POSTAL DISPUTE