May 13, 1953

PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLure:

But they cannot get anybody to do the job at three times what they are paying him, and he is still there. They cannot get rid of him as long as he is fulfilling his end of the contract. He goes to work at eight o'clock in the morning, he has no meal hours, no time off, no rest period and he works until eight o'clock at night. A short time ago the department, out of sympathy or something, granted him the privilege of taking half an hour off, and he can go home at half past seven. That was a wonderful thing, Mr. Chairman.

That is not the sad part of it. He was making a fairly good living under his contract, but he is just getting by now. What did the department do? They put in metering machines. That is all right. It is a great thing for the merchants and others who are putting out a lot of mail. But what did the department do? They refused to give this man his commission on the stamps the metering machine was using.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC
PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLure:

His commission under his contract was only $2 on every $100 worth sold. However, the post office refuses to give him that now. It is not much wonder that they have big revenues and big surpluses if they conduct all their business in that way; but since there is no surplus now I do not know what to say about it.

I do want to say to you, Mr. Chairman, and through you to the new Postmaster General, that this man after giving 79 years' service, taking the 8-hour day as you must today, ought to have some small pension. Then let him retire. Other people are getting

enormous pensions, and I do not blame them for getting all they can; but a thing like this looks so small for our postal department here in Ottawa, taking from this man over half of his legitimate commission. It would amount to $780, I understand, or probably a little more according to the number of stamps sold. They have no right, Mr. Chairman- and I want the minister to hear this-to defraud that man of the commission that is due him.

I have spoken on this before, but I am going to keep it up for a while yet.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC
PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLure:

Someone might say, as a member of the department and a previous Postmaster General said before, that they could fire this man at any time. I said, "Try". "We have a contract", he said; and I said, "Yes, but I defy you or the Postmaster General or the department to show that contract." "Oh," he says, "we know where it is." I said, "I know where one of them is, a duplicate." The department has not that contract, but it reads that as long as he is giving service to the public he is entitled to 2 per cent on all postage stamps used in the city of Charlottetown.

I just bring these conditions to the attention of the new Postmaster General. Surely he will have enough sympathy to say to himself, "Well, here is a man who has given 53 years of actual service since he signed the contract, and 79 years of real service in terms of an 8-hour day. Let us not be so rude as to take away more than 50 per cent of his earnings by these metering machines."

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC
PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLure:

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to take up some other items I would like to mention, because I do not want anyone to think I am trying to hold up these estimates. I do say again that I was rather disappointed in the committee of the house that was set up to study the problems of the rural mail couriers. There are no two ways about it, that committee were either in a hurry or they missed out on what was to be considered. Most of the problems considered were all right and I have no objection to them, but I do think a few of the rural mail couriers themselves from different localities should have been brought in. Then the committee and the Postmaster General would soon have found out what they desired and what they really wanted.

I have often said on the floor of the house here when these estimates were up that discrimination as between contracts-and I

am speaking particularly of my own constituency-is something that one can hardly realize until he figures it out. You will find, as I said before, one man driving 20 miles and receiving a certain amount. There will be another man driving 40 miles who will receive $500 less than the man driving 20 miles. I have made calculations for every mail route in my constituency, and I have placed most of those figures on the record. I am not going to repeat that at this late date.

I want to close by saying this to the Postmaster General. I hope he will make a visit to our province in the near future-I am not making any prognostications about the election-to see what is going on there in the Post Office Department. I should like him to look over our post office and our staff, and I know he will find certain things which, in his wisdom, he will correct. Then I would not have to come here and talk in this manner on the floor of the house.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Charles Delmar Coyle

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cole (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I want to thank the hon. member for the kind invitation he has given me to visit his province after the election when I shall be back, as he suggests, as Postmaster General. I should like to remind the hon. member that he can find the revenues and expenditures in the annual report which the department tables in this house. He was inquiring about the reason for the deficit in 1951. We had an increase in employees' salaries of about $2,500,000, and in the additional amount paid to railways of $3 million. I believe that will explain why we had a deficit.

In so far as Bill No. 107 is concerned, which is awaiting royal assent, it was the subject of a unanimous report by the committee. I think it is only fair, therefore, to say that all the members of the committee believed what they decided. I am sure some good will result from it. So far as the man who has been 79 years in the service is concerned, I may tell the hon. member that that man is not considered an employee of the post office department. He is a stamp vendor, and is paid a commission on all the stamps he sells. We have no jurisdiction over him, therefore, to say whether he shall start at eight o'clock or nine o'clock in the morning. If he desired it, we might even give him a year off. He is a commission agent, so he is his own boss. He receives a commission on the stamps he sells.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLure:

May I interrupt for a

moment? Will the minister look at this contract and read it some day? You will find that you are absolutely wrong. He has a contract with the Post Office Department. It may be to sell stamps, but that does not make

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any difference. The contract specifies that he is to get a 2 per cent commission on all stamps sold in that zone, not that he sells.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I am under the impression that he gets a commission on the stamps he sells. In any event, I shall come to your province after the election and we shall settle that.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

The first matter I wish to draw to the attention of the Postmaster General can be dealt with very briefly. I would simply ask him to refer to Hansard for this afternoon, where he will note that I had something to say to his colleague the Secretary of State regarding representations received from Winnipeg in connection with the salary question so far as post office and other civil service employees are concerned. He will find that I referred to representations that had come from my city of Winnipeg to those of us representing that area. I may tell him that some of those representations were from the postal employees who are, to use their own words, quite disturbed over the announcement that there will be no salary adjustment for postal workers at the present time. I urge upon the Postmaster General that he do his best on behalf of these employees for whom he is responsible by taking this matter up as strongly as he can with his colleagues in the cabinet who have something to say about this matter, particularly the Minister of Finance.

The second matter about which I should like to say a word is a little human interest story. I do not have the reputation of spending much of the time of the house in complimenting or thanking the government, but to do so three or four times in the course of 16 sessions might not be out of place. During the time when we were very much concerned in this house over the recent floods in Britain, Belgium and The Netherlands, I happened to be one of those who said something on the floor of the house. Apparently my name got into a story that appeared in one of the newspapers in Holland. I gather that my connection with Winnipeg must have been included in the story. As a result of that, in due course I received a letter from a family in Rotterdam who were deeply concerned over the fact that they had lost track of some close relatives of theirs who had moved to Canada many years before. It was thought that the family had settled in the Winnipeg area.

In this letter I was asked if I could ascertain the whereabouts of these relatives. First of all, I may say that the letter was in Dutch, so that I could not make it out; hence I referred it to the bureau for translations here in Ottawa. When the letter was translated I

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discovered what it was they wanted, so I simply wrote to the postmaster at Winnipeg, Mr. C. W. Heisler. He went right to work on the matter and it was not very long until, by placing the matter in the hands of special officers of the post office in Winnipeg, he had located the family. These people have thus been reunited. Only a couple of days ago I received a further letter from Rotterdam, this time in English, expressing thanks for what I had done and asking me to express their thanks to Mr. Heisler. I have not yet got around to writing him, but since these estimates were up today I thought I might extend this word of appreciation to him by mentioning this incident on the floor of the house.

I turn now to another matter, and I am still in a grateful mood. However, that will not last. As the Postmaster General will recall, some time ago I took up with him the desire of the historical and scientific society of Manitoba to have the first post office in western Canada reopened, at least on a partial basis. Representations were made to the Postmaster General by Dr. Ross Mitchell, the president of that society, and as the Postmaster General knows I took the matter up with him both by letter and here on the floor of the house. There was a little delay, but in due course the request was met and the Post Office Department made arrangements for a special cachet to be issued for this post office so that it will be possible for mail to be received there and postmarked as going out from this first post office to be opened in western Canada.

This post office is popularly known as the Ross post office. The original building, although it has had to be repaired, is still there. It was built of squared logs for William Ross, the son of Alexander Ross, the first sheriff of the old Red River colony, who was also a teacher and the colony's first historian. Back in February, 1855, the council of Assiniboia appointed William Ross as postmaster, and this post office began its operations on February 28, 1855. As I have already indicated, there is a certain amount of interest in this historic old site, and it is being met in part by the reopening of the post office this very month, under the supervision of the historic and scientific society of Manitoba.

There is, however, another group in Winnipeg who feel that there is yet another way in which this historic post office should be recognized. I refer to the Winnipeg philatelic society, who suggest that this would really be an appropriate event to recognize by the issuing of a special stamp. We are asking for something well in advance because, as the Postmaster General knows-indeed, he has told me about it personally-it takes a long while to get a new stamp prepared. The one hundredth anniversary of the opening of

this first post office in western Canada is off a bit in the future yet; it will take place on February 28, 1955.

I strongly urge upon the Postmaster General that consideration be given to the issuing of a special stamp to mark that occasion. As I say, representations to that effect were made to the Postmaster General some time ago by Mr. A. R. Bloxham, secretary of the Winnipeg philatelic society. I supported those representations in a letter which I wrote to the Postmaster General on January 13. However, the Postmaster General replied on January 16 in a vein which not only was negative but which suggested that the door was closed. I hope I can get the door open again.

In this letter the Postmaster General argued that it is not the practice in Canada to go in for many special stamps, as is done in some other countries. He pointed out to me that the department has indeed issued few postage stamps to mark the founding of cities, let alone the founding of special post offices. He indicated that there are a few exceptions; for example, there have been special stamps marking the founding of the cities of Quebec and Halifax. I gather that there has been nothing of a commemorative character so far as Winnipeg is concerned or the Postmaster General would surely have referred to it in his letter. At any rate, he concluded his letter by telling me that he was afraid it would be inadvisable to issue a postage stamp in 1955 illustrating the subject of this first post office in western Canada.

I do not want to make unfair comparisons, Mr. Chairman, but some of the postage stamps that we have been seeing lately, with some of these animal heads on them, seem to me to be less deserving than an event such as this. In view of the fact that there is still a reasonable amount of time to consider this matter, I press it upon the Postmaster General. I hope he will have his officials look at it again and see whether this is not really an event of some historic significance that he would be well advised to recognize in this way. I am sure that Winnipeg would appreciate the honour of having this original post office in western Canada recognized in this way, and I am sure the Postmaster General and his department would do honour to themselves if they would consider this matter favourably.

Since invitations are being extended to the Postmaster General to visit various parts of the country, I hope that some time soon he will come along to the constituency of Winnipeg North Centre, either before or after the election; or for that matter, he can come along during the election. I should be glad to see him in Winnipeg North Centre at any

time. I should be glad to take him down and show him this interesting building which has been put into shape again and which he has made it possible to be operated again as a post office. I think he should take this other step and recognize this historic event by arranging to have a special stamp issued to commemorate this one hundredth anniversary which will take place, as I say, on February 28, 1955.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I want to thank my hon. friend. Everybody is so agreeable tonight that I cannot deny my hon. friend the promise that I shall at least look into the matter again. He said he hoped that in 1955 I would issue a stamp. I thank him for the-

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Careful, now. I want the Postmaster General to start the ball rolling now. Somebody else may issue the actual stamp when the time comes.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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?

Mr. Coie@St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville

I shall look into the matter.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Mr. Chairman, it had been my understanding that in the suburban areas in the cities where there are small businesses there is a delivery twice a day. Apparently that is not the case in some of the suburban districts in Vancouver. They are getting only one delivery a day.

In addition, within the last few days I have had a complaint that where a registered letter is addressed to a business house in one of these districts and the office does not happen to be open when the carrier calls, the registered letter is taken back to the subpost office and is not taken again on any letter deliveries to that address, but that a notice is sent out saying that the addressee will have to go to the sub-post office in order to get the registered letter. That procedure seems to indicate very poor service. I would hope that the practice can be discontinued.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I do not know the details of that particular case. First, I may say to my hon. friend that we arrange two deliveries where the proportion is over 25 per cent industrial. As far as the notification in regard to registered mail, we try to deliver twice. Then if we have no success in locating the party, we do as he suggested. As far as the business walks are concerned I may tell my hon. friend that those with over 50 per cent of business calls receive two deliveries per day, or more where the volume of mail warrants additional delivery by letter carrier. As to mixed walks, those with 25 per cent to 50 per cent of business calls are served twice per day. As to residential walks, those with

Supply-Post Office

less than 25 per cent of business calls are served once per day.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Does that not mean that where you have a district in which there is, say, one street with 50 business places, it may be impossible for them to get more than one delivery a day? I doubt whether this arbitrary rule of 50 per cent or 25 per cent is a fair way to meet the situation. Surely the post office could take a district which is known as a business centre and in that district deliver at least twice a day.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

We study each case on its own merits. We do not act arbitrarily. We try to rearrange routes so that reasonable service is given.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

The complaint I have had is about the Kerrisdale district in Vancouver. I wish the Postmaster General would have an investigation made of the service there.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

We shall be glad to look into this matter.

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Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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May 13, 1953