The Canadian Union of Postal Workers National President and Chief Negotiator Denis Lemelin
Credits: CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA -- The postal union will deliver a grievance to Canada Post if it refuses to pay for a delegation to attend a conference critics have slammed as anti-Israel.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has sent a five-person delegation to Porto Alegre, Brazil, for the World Social Forum's "Free Palestine" conference.
CUPW said it was funding the trip through a $200,000 international postal fund provided to the union by the Crown corporation under its collective agreement.
But Canada Post said there's no way it'll pick up the tab after receiving complaints over the funding from organizations like B'Nai Brith.
"We're not political," spokesman Jon Hamilton said Friday. "We focus on delivery of the mail."
But CUPW President Denis Lemelin said the conference falls well within the fund's networking purview and members will be meeting with posties from other countries.
"The union is there to represent the members but I think the union is (also) there to develop social and political views about what's happening globally," he said.
Besides, it's not the first time union members have travelled to this conference, Lemelin added.
"It's not the first time and it won't be the last," he said.
Tory MP Pierre Poilievre -- who supports legislation to make union dues optional -- said he hopes no dues go towards paying for the trip to the "extremist anti-Israel" conference now that Canada Post refuses to pay.
Lemelin bristled at the term junket and said all the spending was transparent and accountable to union members and Canada Post.