Postal workers put up with a lot. We face harassment, bullying and overwork all too frequently. Some of us were expected to deliver racist, anti-Semitic, and sexist material in a publication called Your Ward News, but workers stood up and put a stop to it.
Justice Richard Blouin has just found two individuals who published that material guilty of promoting hatred against women and Jews. This publication, delivered in the Toronto area, shocked recipients and our members.
The judge said “if what they were doing didn’t amount to willful hate promotion, nothing would” and found they had “repeatedly and consistently dehumanized Jews and women”. Their paper asserted hateful anti-Semitic imagery, and violent and extremely disrespectful depictions of women all of which is just unacceptable.
One can imagine that any decent person would have a problem delivering hate. Think of how sisters and Jewish members felt having to process and deliver up to 300,000 copies of material attacking their very gender and identity?
Proactive postal workers sprang into action to stop it. No one should be required to peddle hatred as part of daily work. They repeatedly brought this problem to the attention of management. Canada Post Corporation determined at first that they “[did] not believe the delivery of Your Ward News constitutes a danger” and that its distribution was protected by “free speech.” Our members knew that was wrong.
CUPW Campaign Coordinator Derek Richmond joined with others from the community to form a group called “Stamp Out Hate”. They took this to an independent Board of Review. In November 2018 Federal Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough instructed Canada Post that this publication can no longer be distributed as unaddressed admail.
Those actions, and the decency of CUPW members with support in the community, got results! When we stand for the right thing, solidly lobby governments and employers, and engage with our communities, we make a real difference. Today there is less promotion of hatred to be found in our mailboxes.
The work for equality is not over. Hatred appears in less visible forms. It shows up in hidden biases and the legacy of white privilege in a colonized land. Such privileges serve to divide and conquer working people, and promote violence against vulnerable groups.
Free speech does not include the right to promote hate. The federal government did the right thing in barring Canada Post from delivering Your Ward News, and the publishers’ criminal conviction confirms that as the right decision.
The workers that pushed back on Your Ward News have done all of us a great service and we should take pride in that. They deserve our gratitude. Equality and respect do not occur by wishful thinking or by accident. It takes perseverance and collective action.
We celebrate and commend all those workers who refused to accept this trash as anything other than hate material and scored one for justice.