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Stewart-Patterson. David.

Toronto, Macmillan, 1987. 307pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7715-9504-2.

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 16 Number 1
1988 January

Those two words are likely to elicit howls of derision from the many Canadians who have had to endure a steady deterioration in postal service and two recent strikes. Many will therefore want 10 read this book. It is not a pleasant story. David Stewart-Patterson, a reporter with The Globe and Mail's Report on Business, has done a very thorough job in trying to tell us what is wrong with our post office. His findings indicate that the problems facing Canada Post are unsolvable.

In a methodical fashion, Stewart-Patterson divides the story among the four groups responsible for the postal mess. These arc the managers, the workers, the politicians and those running the Crown Corporation. In each group there have been talented, well-meaning people. But there have also been some pretty stupid people whose actions over the years have so hurt the post office that a continuation of strikes and confusion is almost a certainty.

A major cause of the postal mess has been the federal government. The cabinet ministers put in charge of the post office have often been inexperienced. Many have only served for a short time. Others only saw the post office as a step upward in their political careers.

Symbolic of the problems is Postpak, an attempt by the post office to make money through a marketing arm. Postpak lost money. It did this by sending packages across Canada for far less than it cost the post office. A shipment from Scarborough to Quebec City, for example, cost the post office $1,800 but only earned $800. When such a thing can happen, you know we have problems.

Thomas F. Chambers, Canadore College, North Bay, Ont.
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