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January 24, 2014 - No. 3

Parliament Opens on Monday

Harper Out, Now!

Actions by Postal Workers to Oppose
the Harper Dictatorship's Nation-Wrecking

Canada Post -- The Real Public Forum
Saturday, January 25 - 10:00 am -12:00 noon

St. John's Cultural Centre, 10611-110 Avenue (entrance on the avenue, parking in east lot)
Sponsored by: Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Postal Workers Rally
Saturday, January 25 -- 1:00 pm

Manitoba Legislature
For information: CUPW Winnipeg Local, 204-942-6323, www.cupwwpg.ca

The Cast for Postal Banking
Saturday, January 25 -- 7:00-9:00 pm
Alderney Room, Dartmouth Holiday Inn, 101 Wyse Road

Postal Workers Rally
Monday, January 27 -- 7:30-9:00 am

Almon St. Post Office, 6175 Almon St.
Organized by: Halifax-Darmouth & District Labour Council
For information: Facebook

Community-Labour Planning Meeting
Wednesday, February 5 -- 6:00 pm

Labour Temple, 3700 Kempt

Postal Workers Demonstration
Sunday, January 26 -- 1:00 pm

Meet at Dundonald Park (Kent & Somerset); march to Prime Minister's Office
(Elgin & Wellington)

Day of Action
Monday, January 27
6:30-8:30am -- Information picket, Dieppe Postal plant,
680 Malenfant and at the Mark Avenue letter carrier depot
9:30 am -- Information picket @ Conservative MLA Caucus meeting,
587 Mountain Road
11:30 am -- Information picket, Canada Post Retail store, 281 St-George Street
4:00 pm -- Demo at MP Robert Goguen's office, 34 King Street
For information: Line Doucet, CUPW Moncton, 380-3401

Postal Workers Rally
 Monday, January 27 -- 3:00 pm

Federal Building, 55 Bay Street North

Postal Workers Rally
Monday, January 27 -- 4:30-7:30 pm

Location TBA
For information: CUPW Local 566 President Dean Woronoski, 519- 476-6208

Postal Workers Rally
Monday, January 27 -- 4:30 pm

City Hall Square

"Hands Off Our Public Post Office"
Monday, January 27 -- 12:00 noon

Yates Street Post Office
For information: Facebook

Postal Workers Face the Challenge of Harper Government's Attacks
Keep the Post Office Public! - Louis Lang

For Your Information
How Atomic Energy Canada Was Privatized -- Example for Canada Post?
The Privatization of Atomic Energy Canada -- Harper's Gift to SCN-Lavalin - Louis Lang

Postal Workers Face the Challenge of Harper Government's Attacks

Keep the Post Office Public!

Postal workers are continuing their fight against the "Five Point Action Plan" announced by Canada Post in December 2013 one day after the adjournment of the House of Commons. The plan consists of the elimination of home delivery, a drastic increase in the cost of postal services, accelerated privatization of retail outlets and further attacks on the wages, working conditions and benefits of postal workers.

Parliament is scheduled to resume its session on January 27 and postal workers are using this occasion in many cities across the country to organize demonstrations and other actions to back their demands that Canada Post and the Harper government withdraw their plans to wreck the public post office and to stop their attacks on the workers.

A demonstration is being held in Ottawa on January 26 in front of the Prime Minister's Office. Hundreds of workers from Montreal and Toronto are making the trip to Ottawa to join postal workers there to tell the Harper government to order Canada Post to withdraw its drastic cuts in service and stop attacking postal workers.

There has been no official announcement as yet, but postal workers in Ottawa have learned that two communities in Ottawa, Kanata and Orleans, will be the first areas in Canada where door-to-door delivery will be completely eliminated. To begin this process Canada Post is planning to do a full restructuring of letter carrier routes in the Kanata and Orleans Letter Carrier Depots starting in the spring of 2014. The implementation of the restructuring, which will result in combining and eliminating many letter carrier routes, could take up to six months. Union representative are planning to meet with the Mayor of Ottawa to discuss the detrimental effects that Canada Post's actions will have on these communities.

In many cities across the country municipal councils have passed resolutions denouncing Canada Post's plan to eliminate home delivery. From St. John's Newfoundland to Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, many mayors have spoken out demanding that Canada Post stop wrecking the post office and provide the services to which the people are entitled.

The Mayor of St. John's met with local union representatives and stated that he supported the fight against Canada Post's plans to eliminate home mail delivery. He said, "Good dependable mail delivery is a service that we all have a right to enjoy." He also said that he will personally make it tough on Canada Post to get council approval to install more super mail boxes in the city if door-to-door delivery is eliminated. Many other mayors of cities big and small have also made statements about the damage these measures will have in their communities.

In their struggle, postal workers face not just the managers of Canada Post, who are intent on dismantling the public post office and pushing for more privatization and deregulation of postal services for the benefit of private postal monopoly corporations. Behind this drive for privatization stands the Harper government which is intent on seizing public resources and handing them over to monopoly corporations destroying any semblance of a society where the socialized economy serves the public good.

In 2011, the Harper government dismantled one of the most valuable public assets in Canada. Under the guise that Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL -- a Crown Corporation created in 1952 to develop nuclear energy technology), was in financial difficulty, it was handed over to SNC-Lavalin at a fire sale price of $15 million. Within months of the privatization of AECL, SNC-Lavalin was able to acquire $1 billion worth of contracts.

The case of AECL is a vivid example of the role the Harper government is playing in the service of monopoly corporations. The damage to the national economy of such a massive transfer of financial, physical and technological public assets to the private sector is incalculable.

The attack on the public post office is part of the same agenda and the same methods are being used as in the case of AECL. False financial predictions are being fabricated to justify the destruction of public postal services and assets. In fact it is clear that the push by the Harper government to privatize and deregulate Canada Post is not because it is failing but on the contrary, the elimination of the public post office is the potential source of super profits for monopoly corporations like UPS, FedEx, Pitney Bowes and others.

The struggle of postal workers against Canada Post's "Five Point Action Plan" is an important block to the plans of the Harper government to continue on the path of the takeover by private monopoly interests of public interests.

In this struggle, postal workers are also facing the challenge of making their defence organizations effective in defending their interests. At a time when unions are being criminalized for defending the rights of workers to decent wages and working conditions and anti-union legislation is being promoted to disrupt any organized resistance, workers must discuss how to renovate the role the unions must play to build the strength and unity of the workers and their allies.

To build modern organizations based on modern consciousness, as opposed to the consciousness of old arrangements that no longer apply, it is important to involve rank and file workers in the discussion of the problems so that they can elaborate the agendas they want to implement to resolve the crisis in a manner that favours them. This will build the unity and fighting strength of the workers based on their own demands and needs.

At this time postal workers also have to deal with the daily pressure imposed by spokesmen of the government and Canada Post that the workers' security and livelihood depends on the survival of the corporation. The illusion is created that if the workers make sacrifices to save Canada Post then their pensions and wages and benefits will be secure. In the same way in the fight against the "Five Point Action Plan," some who pretend to be friends of postal workers are suggesting that the only way to save door-to-door delivery is for the workers to make some compromise.

Workers should reject this advice with the contempt that it deserves. First of all, workers have learned from bitter experience that they cannot rely on anyone but themselves and their organizations in the fight for their rights. Whenever workers succeed in making advances, it is always based on their ability and level of organization to guarantee their security. Secondly, why should the workers make sacrifices to save the corporation when the Harper government and Canada Post managers are doing everything in their power to wreck the post office and hand it over to some monopoly corporation?

The main content of the struggle of postal workers is the fight for a modern public post office which is capable of providing universal service to all Canadians and recognizes the right of workers to proper wages, working conditions and benefits commensurate with the work they perform.

The security of postal workers and the right of all Canadians to a standard of living that comes with a highly developed productive economy is based on our ability to deprive the monopolies of their power to wreck the economy.

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For Your Information

How Atomic Energy Canada Was Privatized --
Example for Canada Post?

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is a Crown Corporation founded in 1952 with a mandate to develop nuclear energy technology. AECL developed the CANDU reactor technology in the 1950s and until its sale to SNC-Lavalin in 2011, was also the vendor of CANDU technology which it had exported worldwide. Throughout the 1960s to 2000s AECL built CANDU facilities in India, South Korea, Argentina, Romania and the People's Republic of China.

In addition, AECL manufactures nuclear medicine radioisotopes for supply to MDS Nordion[1] in Ottawa and is the world's largest supplier of Molybdenum-99 for diagnostic tests and Cobalt-60 for cancer therapy. The government continues to own the Chalk River Laboratories which produce the medical isotopes but Harper has clearly indicated that he intends to take the Canadian government "out of the business of medical isotope production." There is no doubt that the government is presently conducting secret negotiations to sell the Chalk River Laboratories and the National Research Universal Reactor (NRU) which is located there.

Members of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates hold a press conference in Ottawa, May 11, 2010, prior to testifying in front of the Finance Standing Commitee to oppose the privatization of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. (SPEA)

The October 16, 2013 issue of the North Renfrew Times reported that the federal government had announced that it had initiated the process of contracting out the management of the Chalk River facilities under a "government-owned, contractor-operated model." The article pointed out that the process was ongoing and that further announcements were expected shortly.

The contracting out of the Nuclear Laboratories at Chalk River, the last part of the Crown Corporation that remains, is characterized by the government as the restructuring of AECL. But it is clear that the intention of the Harper government is more than just a restructuring.

The Office of the Minister of Natural Resources explained the restructuring as follows:

"Under the new management model, the Laboratories will focus on three key objectives:

"Managing its radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities accumulated during the more than 60 years of nuclear research and development at Chalk River and at Whiteshell Laboratories.

"Ensuring that Canada's world-class nuclear science and technology capabilities and knowledge continue to support the federal government in its nuclear roles and responsibilities -- from health protection and public safety to security and environmental protection.

"Providing access to industry to address its need for in-depth nuclear science and technology expertise. This will include ongoing access to the Laboratories, at fair market rates that ensure cost recovery, for owners and operators of CANDU reactors as well as the CANDU and broader nuclear supply chain in Canada."

It is not accidental that the Harper government has sold AECL to SNC-Lavalin at this time and is handing over the valuable technology and the expertise of the scientists and engineers at the Chalk River facilities to serve private interests who intend to make enormous profits through the exploitation of nuclear technology.

It is a well-known fact the government of Ontario is about to make a decision about what to do with the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant. It was considering the option of building two new nuclear reactors or proceeding with the plans to refurbish the existing reactors.

There is also discussion taking place among the political and economic elite on the issue of the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant. The Economic Club of Canada held a meeting in Toronto on November 22, 2013. The topic for discussion was "The Case for New Nuclear: The Need to Begin Now to Replace the Pickering Nuclear Plant Due to Close in 2020."

The bottom line is that many of the CANDU reactors in Ontario and elsewhere need to be refurbished or replaced. In either case, thanks to the timely intervention of the Harper government, SNC-Lavalin and its friends in the construction industry stand to make billions of dollars of profit for years to come.


1. MDS Nordion -- In 1991, AECL decided to spin off its medical isotope production business under the name Nordion International Inc. The unit was sold to MDS Health Group and now operates in Ottawa under the name MDS Nordion.

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The Privatization of Atomic Energy Canada --
Harper's Gift to SCN-Lavalin

Starting in 2009, the Harper government started the process of the privatization of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources at the time, stated that it was time the government "got out of the business of subsidizing nuclear reactor sales and servicing." The government insisted that AECL was a serious financial risk for "the Canadian taxpayer." They produced statistics to show that it had cost $1.2 billion over the past several years in subsidies. According to government releases at the time, AECL also faced, "major cost overruns at key projects in recent years," and it would be difficult to find a buyer.

Apparently, the dire financial forecasts of the Harper government did not scare SNC-Lavalin. In June 2011 AECL was sold to SNC-Lavalin for $15 million dollars. Not only did SNC-Lavalin pay a fraction of the value of AECL, which many experts described as a fire sale price, the government also gave SNC-Lavalin $75 million to complete development of a new reactor called Enhanced CANDU 6. In announcing the sale Joe Oliver tried to justify the low sale price by claiming that "the government will have an opportunity to get royalties down the road because it's keeping intellectual property rights." In fact the intellectual property rights would last fifteen years and the potential earnings for the government were estimated to be $285 million over that time.

One only has to contrast the sale price of $15 million with the yearly earnings of AECL which were approximately $500 million at the time. Even if the considerable assets built up by AECL are not taken into account, it is the height of hypocrisy to deny that this was a gift by the Harper government to SNC-Lavalin.

Another condition of the sale was that the government also assumed all the financial responsibilities related to two ongoing projects at Point Lepreau in New Brunswick and the Bruce Power Station in Ontario, which were being refurbished but were three years behind schedule and $2 billion over budget. SNC-Lavalin got everything they wanted -- a publicly funded and developed crown corporation with great physical, technological and human assets, and one of the leading companies of its kind in the world, with minimum risk for SNC-Lavalin.

The union for AECL workers condemned the sale. Michael Ivanco, vice-president of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates stated that the sale would result in a "hollowed out company," and could cost thousands more jobs among the corporation's suppliers. "It may contribute to brain drain not seen since the Avro Arrow, as engineers, scientists and others evaluate their long term careers with the company," Mr. Ivanco declared. "We are shocked and angry that the Harper government conducted this sale behind closed doors without any input from the Canadian public or Parliament. They jammed legislation through the budget that gave cabinet the right to make decisions instead of Parliament and now we see the results," he concluded. The union also pointed out that close to 800 jobs were jeopardized by the SNC-Lavalin takeover.

Less than six weeks after the June announcement the Finacial Post of August 25, 2011 carried this brief announcement:

"Candu Energy Inc., a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin Nuclear Inc., and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. have agreed to a $440-million deal with Argentina's nuclear operator to refurbish a Candu reactor at the Embalse Nuclear Generating Station.

"AECL will begin work on the deal, with Nucleoelectrica Argentina Sociedad Anonima SA (NASA), with direct support from SNC-Lavalin until the sale of AECL's Candu reactor division to Candu Energy closes. After that, Candu will take over the rest of the contract.

"AECL and SNC-Lavalin will provide key technologies and tools as well as engineering and supply for plant upgrades. NASA will oversee onsite work.

"The retubing and refurbishment is expected to extend the reactor's life by 25 to 30 years. It began operation in January 1984 and produces 648 megawatts."

"This contract is a good example of the opportunities that lie ahead for Candu," Patrick Lamarre, executive vice-president with SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., said in a release. "We look forward to expanding our cooperation with the Argentinian nuclear industry, not only for this refurbishment project but for future nuclear projects in Argentina, elsewhere in South America and in the global market."

Within months of the sale of AECL, SNC-Lavalin won another lucrative contract for its Candu Energy Inc. subsidiary. On March 1, 2012, CBC News reported:

"Engineering firms SNC-Lavalin and Aecon[1] have teamed up on a $600 million contract from the Ontario government to refurbish the Darlington nuclear power generating station. Ontario Power Generation or OPG, the agency responsible for maintaining Ontario's power grid, announced the contract on Thursday. The job consists of eventually upgrading all four reactors at the Darlington facility. The first phase of the contract involves planning how to remove 480 pressure and calandria tubes, along with 960 feeder pipes that run at the reactors. Phase two will be putting the plan into action. The four reactors at Darlington have reached roughly half of their useful life, and the upgrade could give them several more decades of power generating potential.

"Darlington now powers one out of every five homes in the province, but OPG wants to expand capacity at the site that could eventually see all four reactors putting out more than 5,500 megawatts of power -- far and away the province's largest single power source.

"The Darlington reactors are Candu technology, originally made by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which SNC-Lavalin bought from the federal government last year. As soon as that deal was signed, SNC-Lavalin signed another deal to refurbish another Candu reactor, in Argentina.

"The company is now waiting on another Ontario contract to possibly build two new Candu reactors elsewhere in Ontario. There's no word when that decision will be made.

"Work at Darlington is expected to begin in 2016 and create about 6,000 jobs, OPG said in a release."

In short, within months of the sale of AECL to SNC Lavalin for $15 million, the company that the Harper government claimed was a burden for "the Canadian taxpayer," and would require hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies was able to acquire $1 billion worth of contracts.

The privatization of AECL is a clear example of the role of the Harper government in the service of monopoly corporations. The outright gift to SNC-Lavalin of one of the most valuable public assets in Canada is another massive transfer of public assets to the private sector.

The privatization of AECL is damaging for the national economy now and in the future. It has resulted in the loss of close to one thousand jobs and the potential loss of thousands of jobs in the future. It has taken a very important technology, the secure development of nuclear energy out of the public domain and handed it to a monopoly corporation which will take advantage of the needs of the whole society for electrical energy. Nuclear energy clearly impacts on the health, safety and well-being of all Canadians and must never be allowed to be the private domain of a monopoly corporation whose only interest is maximum profit. The Harper government has even chosen to ignore the fact that SNC-Lavalin has been embroiled in allegations and findings of irregular payments to public officials, misconduct, corruption and bribery in projects in Canada and other parts of the world.

This is a government that is on a destructive path and must be stopped! Working people and all Canadians must organize to deprive the Harper government of the political and economic power to make such decisions which endanger the health, safety and well-being of the people.


1. Aecon is Canada's largest publicly traded construction company. According to Wikipedia it is involved in many infrastructure projects in Canada as well as internationally. It produces its own construction products like asphalt and the infrastructure segment provides engineering services to both private contractors and municipalities. Its last couple of acquisitions has given it a strong position as a developer, operator and constructor in Canada's oil sands.

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