A notice atop the nomination packages in Harrison Hot Springs may have been misconstrued by some candidates, according to Canada Post and the Village office.
The notice, on a plain white piece of paper with no letterhead, read: “The local post office (Canada Post) has advised that any election material must be submitted to the Post Office for approval prior to distribution.”
To former mayor John Allen, the note meant that Canada Post was attempting to censor election material. It also would mean that the election could be over before material was approved for distribution.
“I don’t believe that Canada post should be editing or censoring anything which I wish to say to my fellow citizens,” Allen wrote in a letter he sent to the BC Civil Liberties Association. “If the response time is at the usual glacial speed … then that is, effectively, a prohibition on communication. Election material isn’t much use a month after the campaign is over.”
Canada Post spokesperson Anick Losier said that the notice is the result of conversations that were “misinterpreted.”
“We distribute,” she said. “That’s what we do.”
And the only material they would refuse to send would be explicit sexual material.
“We don’t make a judgement call on the content. Our responsibility is to deliver what is entrusted to us. That’s what we’re paid for,” she said.
While calling from Ottawa, Losier said she was quite familiar with the situation in Harrison, which goes back almost a year.
“The Village office phoned our post office and had a question about a pamphlet,” she said. “I think they wanted to avoid negative campaigns, and they thought we did this (censored content) but we don’t.”
CAO Ted Tisdale confirmed that he was the one to make the initial phone call.
“I called them first of all,” he told the Observer. “There was a concern of materials going out.”
He said the notice on top of the packages was meant to help candidates.
“It’s a big expense for pamphlets,” he said, only to find that Canada Post wouldn’t deliver them if they were deemed undeliverable.
The mayor of Harrison, Ken Becotte, was also surprised by the note, and was unsure of its meaning.
“I was surprised to see that; I’ve never seen that before,” he said. “The whole thing is a mystery to me. I don’t know anything about it.”
Canada Post underlined to the Observer that no election material needs to be vetted by the post mistress, as long as it does not contain explicit sexual material or constitute hate mail.