Nick Aplin on Utopian Dream

Door-to-door mail delivery is not only

of practical but also of moral consequence

By Nick Aplin

(Nick Aplin is a civil engineer. He was asked to speak at a meeting of concerned citizens in Hintonburg in west Ottawa, Canada. Here following is what he said April 9 2014.)

Image: Photo of snow-bound community mailboxes with caption, Behold the new Conservative Canada Post exercise opportunity for seniors. Dear Leader Harper gives thumbs-up in inset.I support door-to-door mail delivery because it is just one of the attributes of the kind of society I wish to live in. In the society I would choose and toward which I believe it is worth working, there would be generally a sense of justice and fairness.

There would be very little emphasis on consumption, a great deal of emphasis on social solidarity. There would be equality of opportunity that would lead to a sense of social responsibility. There would be few if any foreign wars. We would not allow our environment to be fouled by corporations enjoying impunity as if it did not matter what pollution is dumped. The air, the water and the soil could produce nourishing foods. Our general health would be better.

This federal government, the one we have tolerated and endured for nearly eight years, as well as their appointee running Canada Post, have an ethic that I completely oppose. Theirs is totally different from what I see as desirable for Canada and for the survival of a world in which my grandchildren and other kids for generations into the future can expect to live well.

The cancellation of door-to-door mail delivery is one more of the policies that I think are short- sighted and misplaced. Austerity, as practiced by our federal government, works against the interest of the vast majority of people and for the benefit of the very few, the 1 percent crowd. Budget cutbacks mostly affect those who are least privileged in society — as in unemployment benefits, health care and home care, reduced transit subsidies and basic welfare at the same time as tuition fees have increased for post secondary education. This cold northern country has no policy on affordable housing, and for me that is shameful.

The services just mentioned are the social fabric of a decent and caring society. In such a society there is a sense of social solidarity — of ‘we are all in this together.’ My immigrant parents spoke of such a sense being part of what helped them to survive without any extended family the depression of the 1930s in Toronto but I don’t see much of that sense around me.

Door-to-door mail delivery, rather than a privilege to be conferred by a powerful few upon the population as a whole, could be a contributor toward building the sense of social solidarity I see as desirable.

I think that is why this federal government and their Canada Post appointee want to do away with door-to-door mail delivery. This government is acting to discredit the very idea of government acting in the interests of the population as a whole. Their goal seems to be to shrink the role government can play in making life better for most. Imagine the nerve of telling us old folks that it is good to get out to exercise and pick up our advertising mail, as if we had no idea that exercise is good and as if the sidewalks were regularly cleared of ice and snow . . . what arrogance!

Militarism, glorifying war (while reducing benefits for veterans with PTSD), near knee-jerk support for US foreign wars, tax breaks for the rich, and neglect of public infrastructure (at great cost in the long run — as a civil engineer I know it is very cost-effective to invest in maintenance) to say nothing about desecrating the environment and the awful and punitive attitude toward native peoples — these are all are policies pursued with single-mindedness by this gang of neo-cons. Not a single policy of theirs meets my smell test — they all stink. I can remember when many conservative minded people were actually reasonable folk. Not so with Harper and company.

So to get back to my sense of a society we could all be proud of, it would include mail delivery to our doors, as well as good health care for all, good education available to all and very much less consumption of fossil fuels. We could all have meaningful work and could again be pleased to be Canadian.

Perhaps these notions are utopian. Maybe so, but rather than the dystopia promoted by this government I prefer a utopian dream.