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Report On Business Canada Post defends extension of president’s term by Conservatives

Canada Post’s president is among more than 30 Conservative appointments that the Liberals have deemed illegitimate and want reversed.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Canada Post is fighting back against the new Liberal government's efforts to push out president Deepak Chopra.

Mr. Chopra, a former Pitney Bowes executive who joined the post office in 2011, is among more than 30 Conservative appointments that the Liberals have deemed illegitimate and want reversed. His term was extended earlier this year – one of several patronage appointments the Liberals say were done in the lead-up to the election.

The government is also seeking the resignations of the heads of the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum of Nature and Telefilm Canada, a Via Rail director and members of various boards, including the National Energy Board and the Immigration and Refugee Board.

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In a strongly worded defence of Mr. Chopra, Canada Post chair Sian Matthews urged the government to back down. "Responsible leaders, like Mr. Chopra, who commit to public service in this great country, should be celebrated, and not shamed," Ms. Matthews said in a letter on Thursday to Government House Leader Dominic Leblanc.

Mr. Chopra was re-appointed earlier this year in a process that Ms. Matthews said was managed by the Privy Council Office with help from the Canada Post board.

Mr. Chopra has spearheaded a plan to restore the post office's shaky finances, highlighted by the end of door-to-door delivery for millions of Canadians. Canada Post put the controversial phase-out of home delivery on hold just days after the Liberals' election victory in October.

The party had promised during the campaign to restore home delivery.

In her letter, Ms. Matthews defended Mr. Chopra as a respected industry executive with no political affiliations who has helped rebuild the post office's parcel business.

"His thoughtful leadership has been instrumental in changing Canada Post into a modern post [office], meeting both the needs of Canadians and our statutory obligation to be financially self-sufficient."

Canada Post's main letter business is in constant decline as the Internet makes most mail obsolete. So-called "transaction mail" – letters, bills and statements – fell by 102 million pieces in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2014, a 7.2-per-cent decline. Compounding the financial squeeze, Canada Post is delivering fewer letters to an ever-growing number of addresses every year.

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The shift of 5.1 million Canadian homes to neighbourhood boxes was the centrepiece of a five-year plan to put Canada Post on firmer financial footing. The post office estimates the change would have saved $400-million to $500-million a year.

The conversion had barely begun. About 100,000 homes were moved to community boxes last year, and another 800,000 this year. That means Canada Post has so far converted just 900,000 – well shy of its target of 5.1 million by 2018.

A spokesman for Mr. LeBlanc was not immediately available to comment.

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