May 14, 1954

PROSPECTIVE AGREEMENTS WITH SPAIN AND PORTUGAL


On the orders of the day:


PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald M. Fleming (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker, if, as one is informed, the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) is about to

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leave for Spain and Portugal in the hope of assisting in the negotiations for a trade treaty there, may one wish him bon voyage and success in his mission.

The house in committee of supply, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.

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POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT


341. Departmental administration, $1,316,383.


?

Hon. Alcide Coie@Postmaster General

Mr. Chairman, X should like to make a brief statement in regard to the operations of the postal service which I hope will be of assistance in the discussion of these estimates.

In the first place, I wish to refer to the financial result of the operations which terminated on the 31st March this year. As I indicated during previous discussions, the outlook was that there would be a deficit for the fiscal year 1953-54. This is actually the case.

The total revenue is slightly more than for the previous fiscal year. It is approximately $130 million. In other words, the increase in revenue due to increased volume has more than counterbalanced the reduction in revenue due to the elimination of postage for tax purposes.

Expenditures have sharply increased from approximately $123 million to approximately $132,500,000 so that instead of a surplus of $6,500,000 recorded at the end of the fiscal year 1952-53, there is a deficit of approximately $2,500,000.

No doubt hon. members will be interested in knowing what have been the results of the adjustments made in the rates of payment to mail contractors under the amendments which were agreed to by the house in May 1953. Approximately 4,000 applications for adjustment have been received. Of this number 3,700 have already been processed and 300 are still under consideration. Of the 3,700 cases already dealt with, 2,600 increases have been granted. The average amount of the adjustment is 18 per cent or a total of $700,000 per annum. The applications received were not as numerous as we had anticipated. In some cases, the applications were received late in the year so that the total payments authorized were not as great as we had expected. Applications continue to be received and although the amount authorized so far is, as I have already indicated, $700,000 per annum, it is expected that by the end of the present fiscal year the total amount of the adjustments will be reasonably close to the $1,500,000 which it was estimated the adjustments would cost.

[Mr. Fleming.!

Dealing with the general question of land transportation, may I say that the amount expended during the fiscal year just closed was approximately $17 million. The estimate for the fiscal year 1954 is close to $20 million, an increase of about $3 million. Of this amount $1,500,000 is to cover adjustments already authorized last year and those which will be granted this year as a result of applications which undoubtedly will be received. It is estimated that the number of applications will be about the same as last year. Many contractors who were not eligible last year will now qualify in view of the fact that they have held their contracts for at least the two years stipulated in the amendments to the Post Office Act. In addition to this $1,500,000 for adjustments, it is estimated that a further $1,500,000 will be required for improvements, modifications, extensions, changes in frequency and the like in the various types of service which come under this heading.

As hon. members are aware, two major changes became effective at the beginning of this fiscal year: the introduction of the five-day 40-hour week and the increase in letter rates of postage. It is rather too early to give any comprehensive statement of the effect of these two major measures. I can say, however, that the forecast made in regard to the additional expenditure required seems to be confirmed. In other words, the cost of the increase in salaries will be in the neighbourhood of $7 million and the cost of the five-day week will at least reach the amount we estimated, namely, $5 million. These two items together with the amount to cover the payments to mail contractors for rate adjustments bring the total additional annual expenditure for these special items to $13,500,000, the estimate I gave during the previous discussion on letter postage rates. To this of course must be added additional amounts to provide for developments, such as extensions of mail services, increased frequencies, new routes, et cetera. The estimate for increases in land services is $1,500,000 for the present fiscal year. This is in addition to the amount required for rate adjustments.

It is estimated that the total increase for 1954-55 over expenditures for 1953-54 will be approximately $17 million. This will be offset to a large extent by the additional revenue which we expect to derive from increased rates of postage and we hope by continued efficient and economical operations also to overcome the deficit of $2,500,000 for the fiscal year which ended on March 31.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Mr. Chairman, the statement which the minister has made has given us a little bit of information with regard to

operations for the year which has ended to which I should like to refer in a few moments. However, before doing so, I should like to make a few general comments, and to say again what I have said on previous occasions, namely that it is my opinion that of all the services which the government is called upon to render to the people of the Dominion of Canada, probably that rendered by the post office is the closest to the individual. When that service goes awry, it is a matter of major importance not only to members of the staff but also to every individual who has suffered by reason of even the slightest deviation from the usual services which the department is called upon to supply. If the administration is guilty of inefficiency or if it makes mistakes which are more or less costly, the result cannot help being an unsettled condition in the staff with resultant unhappiness.

A few months ago this house saw fit to sanction the increase in the postal rates. The new rates came into effect on the 1st of April, a little bit over a month ago. As I said at that time, the increase in rates was scarcely consistent with the services which had been curtailed in the past little while by the department. In particular I referred to the institution of the one-a-day delivery on residential walks in urban centres. This system has been in effect for some time now and while there has been some slight adjustment I would strongly urge the Postmaster General to reconsider this whole question again this year.

I believe that the two-a-day delivery could easily be instituted without any great increase in cost. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chairman, if you will recall the time when the first reports were received after the introduction of the one-a-day delivery, you will remember that it was apparent that rather than there being a saving of money, there had actually been a loss. Of course it is understood that, when any system is changed, there is a consequent dislocation which causes some inefficiencies for the time being. But this particular matter of one-a-day deliveries has not improved in the intervening months. People are suffering today by reason of this restriction of service just as much as they did at the start. I know of a number of cases-and I daresay the minister will have a number of specific instances brought to his attention because they have certainly been brought to mine-when quite unreasonable delays in delivery resulted from the one-a-day delivery and the hours at which mail reached the central clearing station.

Some time ago when the deputy postmaster general was asked whether or not there would 83276-299J

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be a return to twice-a-day delivery, he said he had heard of no plans to resume the two-a-day delivery. I hope that in the intervening time the department has reconsidered its decision and that before long they will find it expedient to reintroduce the two-a-day delivery on residential walks in urban centres.

In his remarks a few minutes ago the minister spoke about the amount that would be needed for extension of services. At another point in his remarks he referred to new routes which he expected would be instituted.

I should like to draw particular attention to the situation that exists in practically all fast growing suburban areas. These suburban areas, areas on the fringe of settled urban areas, are being built up and the people there are frequently placed in the peculiar position of having to go four or five miles to pick up their mail. At the same time there is mail delivery service that goes past the end of their streets, possibly one or two blocks away, but it has not been extended to the streets on which they are residing. These are particularly irritating matters to the householder. In some cases they have been going on for a long time. It seems as though it takes months, sometimes even years, to institute a mail delivery route in an area which is otherwise almost completely urbanized.

I would urge the minister to pay particular attention to the requests that will be made to his department from time to time for the extension of routes to areas which in all other respects are certainly urbanized. I had one specific case brought to my attention not long ago in the Walkerville area. There is a suburban area there called Riverside. The people have all sorts of delivery services, delivery of bread, delivery of milk and so on, but there is no mail delivery. The postman walks past the end of the streets a mere block and a half away but these people have to travel four and a half miles to pick up their mail at the Walkerville post office.

There are many matters that throughout the months cause irritation to the individual taxpayer of this country. There is one in particular I want to draw to the minister's attention. I refer to the charge made for government postcards in the post offices. It is about three years, I think, since it was decided to make a charge for the actual stock on which the stamps are printed. I might point out that there is no other printing on the card. Now that the postage rates have gone up to two cents for printed matter and four cents for regular post cards, it means that the post office is charging an extra cent on each card for the stock on which the

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postage stamp is printed. If people who use these cards commercially go to a post office to procure a supply of 100 or more they find that they pay 16 cents a hundred for them.

Having had some little experience in the calculation of costs of printing stock, I inquired into the matter and found that the stock from which these post cards are printed can be purchased wholesale for a little better than 12J cents a hundred, about $1.26 a thousand. I realize there is some work entailed in cutting the cards and in banding them in lots of one hundred, but nevertheless it would seem to me that the department is at least covering its cost at 16 cents a hundred. The price of 16 cents a hundred is approximately a sixth of a cent per card and yet the average individual who wants such a card pays a cent for it.

In addition, I would think that the department certainly does not pay the same rate for this stock at which it is sold to the average industrial user because undoubtedly they buy in such quantities that they get quantity discounts. That would lower the cost considerably below the figure 1 have cited. I would also point out that in any store a person can purchase very nice looking picture postcards printed in several colours, printed not only on one side but on both sides, at the price of four for a nickel. The producer of these cards makes a profit. It is a commercial enterprise. He buys the stock, prints the cards on both sides and sells them for a cent and a quarter while the government does nothing but print the stamp on the card. They would have to print the stamps in any event and the result is that they are charging people a cent for a blank card.

I think the minister might be well advised to take this matter into consideration. I would suggest, even if it were found necessary to sell commercial quantities at 20 cents a hundred rather than 16, that when these cards are sold one, two or three at a time they should be sold just for the price of the stamp alone. The department should forget about the stock because undoubtedly much the larger proportion of these cards is sold in commercial quantities in any event. Such a move would not affect the revenue of the department to any appreciable degree. In fact, I think the minister will probably find that the number of cards sold individually is very small. Particularly now that the rates have been raised, this matter is a source of great annoyance to those persons who buy one card and pay their two cents or four cents as the case may be in that they have to pay an additional cent for the piece of paper on which it is printed.

[Mrs. Fairclough.l

I should also like to ask the minister whether or not he can inform the house as to the practice of carrying consignments of magazines and newspapers in passenger seats on T.C.A. routes. I think this matter was brought up before when we were discussing another phase of postal activity but no answer was given. I should like to know whether this is a practice of the department and, if so, is it a special arrangement between the Post Office Department and Trans-Canada Air Lines, and on what basis? Why is it thought wise to transport second and third class mail, newspapers and so on, in that manner, when first class mail is carried in the regular luggage or mail compartments of the planes?

When the Prime Minister announced to the house the other day the list of further legislation to be introduced at this session he mentioned that there would be a further amendment to the Post Office Act. I am sure every member of the house is curious as to what is contemplated by the Postmaster General. We would be very glad to know just what is the nature of the amendments to the Post Office Act which the Prime Minister mentioned on April 30 along with several other matters. I would think that some intimation of what is contemplated would have a definite bearing on the discussion of these estimates. I had hoped that when the Postmaster General was making his preliminary statement he would inform us of the nature of the amendments to the Post Office Act that it is intended to introduce at the current session.

I should like to speak for a few moments on the subject of the staff of the Post Office Department. I must say this is a matter on which I feel rather strongly. In the last few years there has grown up in all parts of this country a most deplorable antagonism between the staff and management of the Post Office Department. In fact I do not know of any other department of the government where such antagonism exists, certainly not to the degree that it does in the Post Office Department. I think it is about time that we asked ourselves what is the reason for this feeling within a service that is so close and so necessary to the people of this country.

When the minister announced a few months ago that the letter carriers in certain areas would be placed on the 40-hour week there was considerable discussion as to the method by which these arrangements were to be put into effect. For some time there had been what were known as supervisory letter carriers. I think that those who are familiar with the work done by the supervisory letter

carriers would agree with me that the name itself is definitely a misnomer. The position is not a supervisory position but is a relief position. These men are relief men who pick up various walks when the regular carrier is having a day off or is on holidays. It seems to me that the Post Office Department could very well have augmented the staff of letter carriers and worked out a rotation system without enlarging the position of the supervisory letter carrier. It stands to reason that whether the carriers rotate day by day or whether they rotate week by week, you are going to have to increase your staff by the same number of men. I still cannot see the necessity for this supervisory position.

As I said before, it is a relief position, and not a supervisory position at all. The department has not been satisfied to dignify the position by a properly descriptive name. When suggestions were made that the man might be called a relief carrier, they came up with somewhat of a tongue twister and said they wanted to call him a multiple walk carrier or seme such name as that. It does seem that everything must be done in the most complicated way and called by the most complicated name.

Originally a carrier had to have at least one year's service before he could apply for this position. Now any carrier, regardless of the length of his service, can apply and some have been appointed to this position with less than six months' actual experience. It is just one of the problems that is causing considerable concern to the members of the post office staff, particularly amongst the carriers who have had years of experience. It appears to me that about one in every four carriers will be a supervisory letter carrier. He works on a higher salary and has certain advantages over the men with longer years of service. As I said before, this is a peculiarly nondescriptive title for the position, and undoubtedly has been a cause for concern and annoyance to the experienced carriers.

I hope that the added problem of seniority in the granting of holidays has now been ironed out to the satisfaction of all staffs, and we will not have any more of this "monkey business" of placing a supervisory carrier over those with longer experience when it comes to the selection of holidays. In my estimation, this whole matter is just one more instance of the provocative steps which have been taken by the administration of the department, and which have resulted in the bad feeling which undoubtedly exists in many parts of the department.

Further with regard to the staff, I notice from the details of the estimates on page 416

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that it would seem apparent some of the stenographers have been reclassified as senior transcribers; at least, that is the only explanation I can draw from the information contained on that page. There is quite a reduction in the number of stenographers in the grades 2B, 2A and 1, and then there is a new position, senior transcriber, grades 1 and 2, which did not exist previously. I would assume, therefore, that these stenographers must have been reclassified. I would ask the minister if he could give us an explanation of that particular incident, because it would be interesting to the house to know whether it is a doubling of staff or whether it is actually the creation of a new position.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, it is now well over a year since the date of the last report from the Post Office Department. It is true that the minister gave us a few figures concerning the financial results of the last year of operations, but there are other matters in which the members of this house are keenly interested. Undoubtedly it will be some time before we can expect a full report of the department for the year ending March 31, 1954. In the meantime, some indication of the extent to which the recommendations of Woods and Gordon have been adopted, and the implementation which has been effected, would be welcomed by all members of this house.

I realize, Mr. Chairman, that the items which appear in the estimates under the minister's department are few in number and it is rather difficult to pinpoint your questions to any one particular item. I would ask the minister to answer at the suitable place in the debate, some of these questions that I have asked him today.

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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

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

Mr. Knighi:

I do not propose, Mr. Chairman, to make any comprehensive survey of postal affairs. I do want to draw to the attention of the minister some of the things that employees in my own city feel at the moment. Before doing that I might say that I have been having my ear to the ground and I find rather general dissatisfaction with the new increase in postal rates. I suppose that was only to be expected. People do not like to pay out their money in any case, and it does not help when they realize that the four-cent rate did give sufficient return to carry on the work with some profit in the first class division. They do feel that if certain periodicals-I am not here speaking against it-or some weekly newspapers are to be carried on a second class rate or under a subsidized rate, as was mentioned in the house some time ago, the burden should not be borne by the people who use the first class mails.

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I should like to say that I do not think we have any complaint in our city about the service so far as the general public is concerned. I believe the service is good. I feel our employees, and the organization generally, is efficient. But like my colleague, the member for Hamilton West, I feel I would be correct in saying that labour relations in the Post Office Department are not good. The employees have certain grievances, and one of them is that mentioned by the hon. member and which has certainly been mentioned many times. I note from a letter I have in my hand that there was a meeting of certain of these employees, the Saskatoon joint branch of Canadian postal employees and federated association of letter carriers. At this meeting certain resolutions were passed, copies of which were sent to me and I have no doubt to the minister as well. I feel it incumbent upon me, however, as the member for Saskatoon, to lay these matters before the minister publicly and ask him to comment perhaps on each of them.

One of these matters concerns priority in the matter of holidays. For years the principle of seniority has been established for choice of work and for holidays; that precedent has now been broken. There are certain arduous routes, particularly so because they are being carried by a man who is not familar with them, and who changes from one route to another, so is not familiar with the streets and addresses as the regular postman is. It seems to me that the Post Office Department is reluctant to pay anything extra for the men who work under these difficulties on these particular routes. The department has perhaps taken this other action as a sort of inducement-I do not like to use the word bribe-to induce these supervisory carriers to undertake that work. I do not think the supervisory carriers were particularly interested, even at a raise in pay, but I am going to suggest that some of the ordinary men would have been very pleased to carry on these duties for an additional $20 per month. I feel they should have been given that as an inducement, first of all, to do it, and as compensation for doing it at the end of their term.

Now, that is pretty much the situation. The letter which I have here accompanying the resolution states:

This year, when the department wanted more supervisory letter carriers to provide relief in the 40-hour week set up, and not enough men volunteered for it, even with the $20 higher pay attached to it, it was apparently thought necessary to offer a sort of bribe, namely, the first choice of holidays over all carriers.

As I have said, this is a new precedent. It seems to me to be true that the idea of the rotation of holidays, while that would be a more equitable way of solving this problem, seems to be impossible in the post office service, or at least it has been found impossible up to the present.

Now before I go any further I wish to put on the record the three particular grievances these men have. I have already discussed the first one simply because my hon. friend from Hamilton West gave me a lead in that direction. The other can be discussed much more briefly.

The resolution as passed by the association of postal workers is in three parts. The first deals with supervisory letter carriers. They protest against the supervisory letter carriers being given seniority of holiday choice over all other letter carriers, regardless of length of service. That is the one with which I have just dealt.

The second one deals with grade 1 clerks getting less pay in smaller offices, though the work and the annual examinations are the same all over Canada. Personally I see some justice in that. 1 do not see why a man engaged in an industry or a factory in one part of the country should get less for doing the same kind of work. I would say that the principle of equal pay for equal work should operate in this regard. Looking at this from my general study of post office conditions, it seems to me that the cards are pretty badly stacked against the little fellow. You have a situation there where there is not equal pay for equal work just because these men happen to work in a smaller post office. I presume these people are working the same hours and working equally hard and I see no reason why the pay should be less in some districts than in others.

The third grievance deals with the question of why so many offices have not yet received the 40-hour week, and in this regard my claim would be largely the same. After all, I suppose the 40-hour week was granted on the principle that industry in these particular places worked on the same basis. I do not know whether that is a good criterion on which to judge. Again, I would point out that these people are surely all working for the same department. Their work is similar everywhere and I would suggest that a person in a small town would appreciate being on a 40-hour week just the same as those in the city where industry happens to have, shall I say, the habit of the 40-hour week.

For example, we have a little town on the edge of my constituency at Sutherland and

I do not suppose we ask our mechanics in that particular town to work for less money or longer hours than the corresponding worker in the larger city of Saskatoon. Yet, we find this anomaly existing everywhere in the Post Office Department.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I think that is all I wish to say at present but I hope the minister will answer each of the points I have raised or give us his view on the matter in order that I may, as it were, render an account to my own constituents, who are particularly interested in regard to these three matters.

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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

Mr. Chairman, I do not

believe that we have any very harsh criticism to make today of the operation of the Post Office Department of Canada. I think people generally speaking are fairly well satisfied with the services they get, and frankly I must admit that while it is becoming rather a big business-at least its operating costs, running to about $128 million, are in the realm of big business-I do not believe the people of Canada have much to complain about.

There is one thing, though, I suppose we all complain about, and it is past history now by reason of the fact that the increase in postage rates went into effect on April 1. I have had quite a number of letters protesting against that increase. It has to be recognized, of course, that if people want a service from the government then they must be prepared to pay for it. Here is a service which is absolutely necessary. We must have our post offices; we must have our mail deliveries; we must have a system by which mail can be carried from one person to another and from one part of the country to another. That is an established service, and it is a service everyone requires. It is an established service in this as well as every other country in the world and it has been ever since the days of the ancient courier messages which had to be carried from one place to another.

In Canada, of course, it is getting to be what I might call big business. I think any department which costs between $128 and $130 million to operate must be recognized as big business. It would cost much more than that, of course, if we were to take into account the cost of their buildings as well, and therefore that figure is not quite an accurate picture.

The Post Office Department of Canada, whether big business or not, has still to be paid for, and I am not one of those who

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believe in the government going into anything when they are not able to swing it financially. We know many things have to be subsidized, but I do not believe the government should begin engaging in the types of business which are run at a loss. Here is one service we have to operate by the very reason of the necessity for it, and if we are not going to subsidize it then of course the cost must be met out of revenue.

The five cent rate has now gone into effect, though there is one advantage being derived from this increased rate, and that is that the five cent rate for the most part will carry mail much more rapidly because it is in reality an air mail service throughout Canada except in places where air transport is not available. Just the same, though, that five cent rate is quite a burden on the entire nation. It may not constitute much of a burden for the individual who writes a letter once a month. But it is a burden for those who write very many personal letters and for families and children who have to keep in touch by mail. One cent more on the rate may not be considered a great deal, but it must be added on to the over-all cost of living. Even if we disregard the cost to the individual we must remember that every business has to pay that five cent rate and this must be added on to their operating expenses and be reflected eventually in the general cost of living.

Therefore we cannot blame the people if they protest against this increase. There was a day when we used to talk of the penny postage, but that day has gone, I suppose forever. It would be very nice if we could return to the day when we could lick a one cent stamp and know that the letter would eventually arrive at its destination. But over the years there has been a continual increase until we have now reached the day when the first class mail rate is five cents. When the minister replies to the questions, I should like him to answer one or two of mine. Perhaps he is unable to answer this one; but I should like to know- if it is not too early and the figures happen to be available; he has had only one month to work on them-whether during the month of April, under the new rates, the revenues were higher or lower than those of the same month a year ago. I do not think we can get an accurate picture of what we want by taking the first month that the new rate was in effect. To get an accurate picture we would have to average it over the next year. Of course we cannot do that. We have been operating at the five cent rate for only a month. If the figures are available we should like to know what they are.

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There is one other matter that I should like to bring to the attention of the minister. It is not a new thing at all. I refer to the small country post office and the facilities that are available to carry on a dignified and adequate postal service. The minister will agree that the amount of money available in these post offices is such that the average country postmaster is not able to carry out that service with very much dignity. Our country post offices are usually pretty small and miserable affairs. I know it is a problem where there is not very much mail delivered in a small community. In a small rural community it is an expensive job if we are to put very much dignity into it. I refer not only to the rural post office in the sense of its being away from an inhabited community. Take communities of anywhere from one thousand people to three thousand. I must say that most of those post offices are not what they ought to be. The postmaster is dependent largely upon his own business or his own revenue to keep things going. Perhaps they have to rent small buildings and space is not available. Perhaps they are cramped in their quarters. There are many other features that make it almost impossible for a postmaster in one of those communities to carry on his postal service with the dignity that should be required in this service. I know that once again, if we say we should give a certain standard requirement, the answer is that the postmaster has to be paid more or the government must fork up still more money. The problem is there; I recognize that. But I do believe the minister can give some expression of views on what might be done in respect to the matter.

I have another matter to bring to the minister's attention. I understand that when new public buildings are contemplated, when the government feels that certain public buildings are needed-and I refer mostly to post office buildings-the general practice is that the Post Office Department will make recommendations to the Department of Public Works to have a post office built in this or that community. I should like to know from the minister whether that is the correct assumption, and, if it is, what is the backlog of recommendations that have not yet been adopted or accepted by the Department of Public Works.

It is very easy to make recommendations, and I know that the Post Office Department wants the best facilities possible and may-

I am not sure that they do-recommend the building of many public buildings that will never be built. I do not know whether they would go that far or not, but I should like to know whether there is a backlog, and when the minister is answering I should like

him also to tell us whether or not the recommendations are put before the Department of Public Works with any degree of priority. Are they taken in the order of their priority? In other words, if in one year, we will say, there are 50 public buildings recommended- my figures may be entirely out of line; it is only an illustration I am giving-there must be a first and there must be a last one recommended. Is there a priority there? Suppose the Department of Public Works does not go forward with these buildings: is it possible that next year the recommendation that was at the top may suddenly be shifted to the bottom and the priority upset in that fashion? I should like to know that. I have very good reasons for asking the question. Parliament has already approved certain public buildings that are not included in this year's estimates, and we do not want those that have already been approved to be dropped to the bottom somewhere and some other building take the priority. That would not be fair; it would not be just; it would not be good business and it would smack of politics. I should like the minister to give me some definite answer along that line.

Before I sit down may I thank the minister -perhaps this is under the public works department but it was not done without the recommendation of the Post Office Department-for what was done in my own little town of Vulcan, Alberta, where I live. It is a small village of about 1,500 people. It has not had the best post office, but, you know, it is surprising how people get used to something. It is not good enough, but they get used to it over the years. If we are not careful we can get accustomed to living in a very dirty room, especially if we live there long enough. It is strange, but people act that way, too. They get accustomed to things. Well, I believe the officials of the Post Office Department recommended that. They must have recognized that Vulcan needed a little better accommodation, and they must have made that recommendation because our quarters have been enlarged. We have not a public building there. Other communities in my constituency are larger, and I think they should have public buildings before my own town. Nevertheless the post office quarters in my own town have been enlarged; new boxes have been put in; a new front was put in and the people are quite pleased with the alterations.

I wish to say that I have not had a great deal to do with the officials of the Post Office Department who are responsible for post offices in my particular area, but on the occasions when I have had to approach them I have always found them courteous. I have

always found them to be men who want to do a good job. They have to operate within regulations-they cannot break them; and I believe the officials there are men of integrity and men who want to do a really good job. I wish to say these things to them because it is nice to be able to meet officials, have them greet you courteously, and have them take your problems to heart and say: "Well, we will just see what can be done"-and then tell you in a straightforward way the reasons why certain things cannot be done. They are doing their business in a good way and we are pretty well satisfied.

The officials in the Calgary office who are responsible for much of my area have treated me quite courteously, quite well, and have gotten through a number of problems which I have presented to them-and I appreciate that.

In this group most of us live in rural areas -although some do not. The hon. member for Lethbridge, the hon. member for Medicine Hat, the hon. member for New Westminster and the hon. member for Edmonton East live in cities, but the rest of us are pretty well confined to the rural areas. I have not heard very much complaint and I do not rise now in any particularly critical spirit, except to make these observations and ask these questions.

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LIB

Elmore Philpott

Liberal

Mr. Philpott:

May I ask a question which might be answered when the other questions are being answered? I refer to the colour of first-class stamps. I understand that a few years ago there was some kind of an international convention requiring that all first-class stamps be red or of some standard colour. Now I see that the new ones are blue, and they are a lot like the colour of the purple ones which are four cents. I wonder if the minister could tell us if we are going back to the old standard first-class stamp- because I am getting quite a lot of mail on which I have to pay extra postage because people have not put enough on it.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

When the five-cent postage rate was up I was trying to get the minister to make a statement with regard to the policy of his department with respect to recommendations by defeated candidates and members of parliament. I find myself involved in a discussion in the paper with the former member for Mackenzie, Mr. Ferrie, my predecessor. I wish to make it clear now that I do not want to be consulted regarding the appointment of postmasters or on other decisions that should properly be decisions of the 83276-300

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Post Office Department, and I would like the minister to give us some information as to what his policy is.

I have before me a sessional paper that was brought down some years ago, No. 159 of 1943. Colonel Underwood, who is with the Postmaster General now, played an important role in connection with this case and I would like to know whether he still has the sort of duties he had at that time and whether this same procedure is still followed.

I have a file here which goes back to April, 1942, when the postmaster at Endeavour, Saskatchewan, was short of funds. The inspector, who is now the superintendent in Saskatoon, found the shortage, took over the office, consulted the local Legion and appointed a person who seemed to be the best person in Endeavour to be acting postmaster. He reported to his superintendent in Saskatoon and the superintendent there in turn reported it to Ottawa. The next move was when Colonel Underwood notified the secretary of the provincial legion. He also wrote to Mr. Ross Barrie of Pelly, Saskatchewan, who happened to be the defeated candidate for Mackenzie at that time.

I want to make it clear that Mr. Barrie and I are very good friends. As a matter of fact, I think this is the sort of experience which persuaded Mr. Barrie that life was too short to get bogged down in this kind of controversy which took a lot of his time and made a lot of enemies.

Colonel Underwood wrote to Mr. Barrie on the 13th May; he wrote again on the 20th May, on the 1st June, on the 11th June, on the 23rd June and then on the 3rd July. That is very good service from a busy person like Colonel Underwood, who was then chief superintendent of the service. Now, I will just get the file before me. The Endeavour legion on July 5th objected to the decision that Mr. Barrie made. The man who was nominated by Mr. Barrie no longer lived in the district, and, according to post office regulations, he was not eligible. The president of the legion, as I said, took objection and Colonel Underwood wrote again on July 18th to Mr. Barrie. That letter is page 56 of this record. Then there is the official nomination. In this connection I would like the Postmaster General to state definitely whether this form is still used by the post office. It is a form of nomination for postmaster signed by Mr. J. Ross Barrie and the Postmaster General might indicate why they asked for a nomination at that time-and if they are still so asking. It is not known why this was done-just that Mr. J. Ross Barrie nominated Mr. Nelson R. McGregor for the

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job. This nomination is printed on government stationery-"Nomination for Postmaster"-there is given here the electoral district, the province, the office, revenue, and remuneration. Revenue for the previous year was $996.82 and the remuneration offered was $1,000. As I have indicated there was a great deal of correspondence. There was a personal and confidential letter from Mr. Barrie to Colonel Underwood. It appears in the file and, since it is dealing with public business, I am sure it was not considered as personal or confidential.

There is an official notification on the 8th August-everything was supposed to be signed, sealed and delivered. Mr. McGregor was appointed to take over. Then the Liberal executive came into the picture- the local Liberal association, provincial and federal. They wrote a letter to Mr. Hunter in Saskatoon and said:

We kindly ask you to hold us abeyance the appointment of the postmaster at Endeavour and the appointment of Mr. McGregor. We, as association, recognize that Mr. McGregor is not a residence of Endeavour and do not wish him to succeed Mr. Izdebski as postmaster.

To make everything aboveboard they enclosed the minutes of their meeting, giving names of movers and seconders of various motions.

Things were getting pretty hot and I guess Mr. McGregor decided that life was too short to get into this controversy and he turned it down.

On the 28th August Mr. Barrie wrote to Mr. Underwood and there was a further air mail letter, and, on the 31st August, there is a letter to Mr. Barrie. There is another on the 3rd September and the acting chief wrote on the 21st September. A second appointee came into the picture and things were still hot. He finally declined. Then there was a letter of Mr. Barrie to the acting chief on October 7. Then there was a letter from the acting chief to Mr. Barrie on October 15 and one from Mr. Barrie to the acting chief on October 30. To bring the story to an end at last-

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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?

An hon. Member:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

Yes; I agree with the "hear, hear". It is a rather ridiculous story, but I am quoting from official documents.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

I told the committee that when I started.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB
CCF
CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

He will bring it up to date later.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. Nicholson:

Colonel Underwood, who featured in this correspondence, is holding a responsible position. I hope that the Postmaster General will be able to tell us categorically that neither Colonel Underwood nor anyone else in the Post Office Department is placed in the ridiculous position that this file would indicate.

Finally, On December 18, Mr. Barrie threw up his hands. I remind the committee that the country was at war and the man who was appointed in the first place was a veteran of the first war. The only thing against him was that he did not have the O.K. of the local defeated Liberal candidate at the time. After all this correspondence, on December 18, Mr. Barrie finally threw up his hands and said, "Whatever the Post Office Department does will be O.K. with me", and the man who was appointed as temporary on April 16 became postmaster. The file was closed on January 7 of the following year with a final letter from Colonel Underwood to Mr. Barrie telling him that it is settled.

As I said, I should like the Postmaster General to tell us whether the form that was used at that time is still being used by the post office and whether or not his department must consult with the defeated candidates in various constituencies or with sitting members. I think it is fairly clear that if any department is going to be able to administer its business efficiently, it must get away from a system wherein the chief superintendent has to write so many letters. I find that 17 letters were writen by either the chief or the acting -chief to Mr. Barrie whose status was that of defeated Liberal candidate at that particular time. I hope that the Postmaster General will give us a clear statement indicating how things now stand in the post office.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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May 14, 1954