May 14, 1954 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

minister said a few words which I should like to have clarified. My quarrel with the minister is not over the professional post office which I think is doing a good job of work; my quarrel is with the political post office. When the minister rises in his place in the House of Commons and tells us that members of parliament are told about vacancies in sub-post offices and that these mem-

bers of parliament know all about it, may I say that I do not think it is true of opposition members of parliament. I do not want it to be true. Quite frankly, may I say that I want to have nothing at all to do with it. I think the postal officials are far better qualified than am I to decide who should be a subpostmaster or where the locality should be. My hon. friend said that great numbers of letters were sent out. That is quite true. But those letters are decidedly different. There are two types of letters sent to my constituency; and if they are sent to my constituency, I assume they are sent to others. They are form letters sent by the director of operations. The one type is that which is sent to the Canadian Legion in language which is as follows:
Dear Sir:
There is a vacancy at the above-named post office and as the appointment comes under the control of the department, the necessary steps are being taken to appoint a new postmaster.
At the request of the Postmaster General, I am bringing the matter to your notice in case any member of your organization who is a patron of the vacant office should care to submit his application. Anyone desirous of applying for the position should submit his application to the department at the earliest possible moment.
I have no quarrel at all with that sort of form letter which is sent out to responsible officers of the Legion because I think exservicemen should always be given consideration. My quarrel is with the other type of letter which, as I said earlier, apparently is sent to only a select group; and it reads like this:
Dear Sir:
In previous correspondence the department asked for your recommendation of a suitable person for permanent appointment as postmaster . . .
The position I take is this. In Winnipeg the postal officials know much better than does anyone else, whether he is a successful politician or a broken-down politician, where the sub-post office should be and who the sub-postmaster should be. I should be extremely happy to leave this matter entirely to the post office. I have seen them at work before and I have no quarrel at all with them as a professional group. I think they are doing an excellent job. I think what is hurting the post office-and what in the long run hurts any political party-is the animosity which is aroused through this form of patronage. Earlier today I said that those who were appointed through patronage were probably just as good sub-postmasters as were others. I have no quarrel with them; my quarrel is with the system. It is a system which I think is bad and one which I maintain should be eradicated. I should like to know whether the minister can tell me precisely to whom this second type of letter is sent. I refer to the letter which asked for

the recommendation of a suitable person. To whom is this form letter sent?

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