Is Summerside city council overstepping its mandate should it become involved in the nationwide dispute of the elimination of door-to-door delivery by Canada Post?
Canada Post has said it will eliminate the door-to-door service in favour of community mailboxes.
The issue clearly involves the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the management of Canada Post and the federal government.
Projections by the Conference Board of Canada indicate Canada Post would lose $1 billion annually by 2020, based that on the assumption the corporation would lose $250 million in the final quarter of 2012.
The postal workers union has taken its fight to the public and is petitioning municipalities to pass resolutions opposing the move by Canada Post.
Executives of CUPW Local 129, Summerside, appeared before city council in March seeking support for their fight.
The union claims that five jobs will be lost in Summerside, and another 8,000 across the country. Theyâ€™re also claiming a hardship on senior citizens because without home delivery they will be forced to travel to community mailboxes to get their mail, which could be difficult in the winter months.
Summerside city council is going to take a long hard look at the issue
Clearly this is a union, management and federal government issue.
It is a political issue. It is a partisan issue.
By design, municipal councils are supposed to be non-partisan. Councillors are elected on an individual basis. There are no political parties associated with municipal councils.
But on Monday night, Summerside city council resurrected this issue of supporting the postal workersâ€™ efforts to scuttle the move by Canada Post.
Is it within the mandate of city council to become involved in a labour movement in its dispute against management?
Not in the mind of the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities.
That organization declined to support the resolution but fell short of advising the municipalities it represents from doing likewise.
Instead of providing leadership on the issue, the federation left it up to the cities and towns to make up their own minds.
The thought of job losses within the community or imposing a potential hardship on senior citizens in getting their mail are issues that would, or should, stir up the indignation of any local politician. Jobs are important and so is the wellbeing of the citizenry.
Council could say these are reasons enough, especially in an election year.
Is it city councilâ€™s responsibility to speak out? If it could make a difference, yes. Will it make a difference? Not likely.
Municipal councils are grassroots. They are the closest political body to the people and have the closest ties with the concerns and needs of the people. If it affects their citizens, they have the right and the responsibility to speak out.