Canada’s philatelic community petitions to be included in plan for ‘better postal service’

Things are coming together quickly for philatelic petitioners across the country following an exciting first week in the campaign for an improved Canadian postal service.

Last week, Saskatoon resident Jean-Philippe Deneault started a petition to support the philatelic community’s inclusion in the plan for a “better public postal service for everyone.” The petition – posted here on Change.org – is quickly gaining support, said Deneault, who added there are currently about 80 signatories after seven days of campaigning.

“Thank you all for your support,” wrote Deneault in an online update. “It has been retweeted this weekend by the Royal Philatelic Society London (RPSL) and the Postcrossing Project. Please continue your support by forwarding this link to your friends, to other members of your stamp or mail art clubs, or just anyone who you think might be interested in preserving our postal history.”

Deneault, along with other members of the philatelic community, are petitioning to be included in upcoming versions of the plan released by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) on Feb. 29, titled “A Better Public Postal Service for Everyone!”

However, Palecek said he believes what Deneault is referring to is the CUPW’s “Delivering Community Power” campaign, which was proposed on Feb. 29. More importantly, he said, the petition couldn’t have come at a better time, adding CSN was the first to tell him about it.

“If they have [contacted me], it hasn’t come across my desk,” said Palecek, who added the union will “be getting in touch with them right away” and is “happy to have input on the whole process.”

“It comes at a perfect time because we’re preparing for the government to launch a mandate review of Canada Post. Through that, we’ll have a lot to say about a better postal service for everyone, and we’d welcome their participation in that process.”

Palecek, who was a national union representative in Ottawa (but originally a letter carrier from Vancouver) before becoming CUPW president last year, said the petition got the union’s attention.

“The government has promised a review as an initiative to green Canada Post and meet the commitments to climate change, and there will be all sorts of avenues for public input within that,” he said. “We’re ready to get together with our allies in the community, and it really comes at a perfect time.”

PHILATELISTS & ACTIVISTS

The philatelic community

The philatelic community acts as a custodian for Canada’s postal history and national identity, states the petition.

Deneault said members of the philatelic community act as custodians for Canada’s postal history and national identity by engaging in the hobby and purchasing stamps and other philatelic material each year; however, he added, philatelists rely on “the expertise and quality service provided by postal workers,” who, in recent years, have proven to hold “little or no philatelic knowledge and lack the proper resources to assist us in preserving our postal history.”

The petition also states the availability of traditional “lickable” stamps has decreased in favour of self-adhesives, which are less environmentally friendly and have an adverse impact on the recycling process. What’s more, both domestic and foreign stamps are frequently defaced either by pen or by machine as the practice of hand cancellations have been all but lost.

“We believe that postal workers can be instrumental in preserving and continuing this long tradition, should they be provided in future with adequate tools, training and knowledge,” said Deneault.

Manitoba-based stamp collector and dealer Roger Fontaine said the philatelic community offers economic support by providing a revenue stream that contributes to Canada Post’s financial sustainability.

“Canadian stamp collectors and collectors worldwide purchase mint stamps, place them into a collection, and the actual value of delivery is never used,” said Fontaine. “This has brought the Canada Post Corporation hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for which they have never had to complete the delivery promise of the purchase.”

Saskatoon-based mail artist and designer Mahshed Hooshmand said many groups and events – such as Write ON; Letter Writers Alliance; and Snail Mail My Email – are dedicated to the revival of “snail mail” as a form of communication and art.

“Entrepreneurs, designers and artists in Canada have built their business around Canada’s postal service and rely on the knowledge of frontline post office staff and the availability of historical and beautiful stamps,” said Hooshmand, who estimated Canadians will send 30,000 pieces of mail art in all shapes and sizes this year. “International events that celebrate letter writing and the postal service are observed and practised by many Canadians who dedicate time and money to mailing letters every day, in the hope of preserving Canada’s postal heritage.”

Keeping with the snail mail revival, Postcrossing, an international postcard club, currently has more than 8,000 Canadian members. Altogether, they have sent 558,597 postcards worth an estimated $1.4 million in purchased postage.

Fredericton-based cultural historian Michael Maloney agreed the philatelic community plays an important role in preserving our heritage.

“Postal stamp images have been effectively used since the late-19th century to reflect Canada’s national identity, to remind Canadians where we as a people have come from and what our nation stands for in the eyes of the world,” said Maloney. “It would be a tremendous loss if we lost sight of the value of proper care and handling of stamps, which are daily reminders to our citizens of our nation’s heritage and values.”

To view the French petition, click here.

To view the English petition, click here.

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