Supporter at CUPW demo

Wow, what a demo! Visiting supporter reports

on the postal worker rally to save Canada Post

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective
Enthusiastic demonstrator out to save Canada Post, Ottawa 26 January 2014. Photo by Frances Sedgwick.  
Photo by Frances Sedgwick.  

01 February 2011 — Wow, what a demo! A friend in Ottawa informed me there was going to be a demo in Ottawa in support of the Postal Workers on Sunday 26 January. How clever I thought, he knew how to get me to Ottawa.

Immediately I booked a train for Ottawa for Saturday 25 January.

When my letter carrier came to deliver the mail the next day at my apartment building I proudly proclaimed, “I'm going to Ottawa to support you.”

She smiled and we got into a discussion about Canada Post and what the Poat Office recommendations put forward were going to do to the public, the workers, and how it would destroy the Canadian tradition of door to door delivery. I told her how ridiculous was idea was that it would be good for seniors to get exercise by going out to community boxes.

I said, “As you can see in this apartment building some seniors find it difficult to just get down to the mail boxes in the lobby!”  As we continued our discussion the letter carrier mentioned all the jobs that would be lost by the Canada Post cuts. When she finished  putting the mail in our boxes she turned to me and said, “Thank you sister for your support.”

When I arrived in Ottawa it was freezing cold. I knew the demonstration was starting in a park near Parliament Hill. But I also knew that I couldn’t march in this cold from the park to the Hill. I took a cab to the demo in front of the Prime Minister’s Office.

As I approached the Hill I could see thousands of postal workers in front of the Prime Minister’s Office chanting Save Canada Post! What spirit there was, I was so glad I had come. I wanted to take pictures to capture the moment.

There were signs in French and English. One sign caught my attention: “Harper Government Economic Action Plan will Eliminate 6,000 to 8,000 living-wage JOBS.” Save Canada Post T-shirts were everywhere.

It was a bitter cold day and there was ice under the slush that had been created by the boots of all the demonstrators. As I was cautiously going through the crowd taking pictures I felt a strong hand under my arm, “Careful sister,” and was guided along with the help of one of the postal workers.

I asked how many demonstrators? At least 2,000, one brother said. This was reinforced by a sister from Quebec who said that there were at least 20 bus loads from Quebec and Ontario.

Everyone was wearing Save Canada Post buttons. I wanted one to show my support so I asked a young postal worker where I could get one. She said she didn’t have any left  and looked around. Then she said, Here take mine. Can I pin it on for you?

Yes, I replied and it was an emotional experience for us both. She said I reminded her of her mother who was always active in the trade union movement. We chatted for a few minutes about the consequences of the cuts and the need to fight back. So many good jobs gone. How is the economy to grow when decent-paying jobs are being eliminated? We hugged and she said be careful and steered me to safe ground.

As the demo disbursed, I walked down Elgin Street with my button proudly pinned to my coat, Postal Workers were slowly scattering along the streets. When they saw my button they cheered “Thank you!”

It was great to see all these demonstrators with their signs melding into downtown Ottawa before boarding their buses back home.

Solidarity Forever For the Union Makes us Strong!

My Canada

Frances Sedgwick