It is 4:30 am on a Friday morning and what else would a marketing student rather be doing but market research? In my case, I have been scouring the interwebs trying to acquire a global perspective on the present and future of Canada Post. As someone who is a staunch supporter of public services and public service jobs, I will admit that my findings are disheartening.
It appears that there has been an ongoing global crisis in public postal services, which leads me to wonder: 1/ Why has there been a lack of public discussion and consultation with Canadians? 2/ As a federal politician, why haven’t I been paying better attention?
Question 1 is obviously directed at our federal Conservative government. However, this government has a very poor track record when it comes to consulting and including Canadians in the decision-making process, so it is a mystery easily solved: They don’t seem to care what Canadians think.
Question 2 is clearly my attempt to own my negligence on the issue, but Canada Post was not on the radar during the last federal election in 2011. Instead, the public vs. private debate was focused on the future status and independence of the CBC.
I will get my personal opinion out of the way by saying that I believe that running public services (and running them WELL) in the best interests of Canadians is an expression of the government’s will to serve the public. So when a government fails in this mission, it tells me that they are either shirking their responsibilities or they have no vision.
This issue of having a vision for public services is central to the current debate on the future of the U.S. Postal Service, as well as the evolution of European public postal services. In Germany (DHL) and France (La Poste), the rigours of deregulation and privatization have forced them to exercise a new vision and change their models to include global parcel delivery, logistics/supply chain management and expansion in retail sales and delivery.
While I can appreciate the initiative shown in Germany and France, the results have also included the decline of service and the deterioration of working conditions. This should be unacceptable for Canadians and my belief is that this issue SHOULD be an opportunity to improve public services and show that we can find a better way to do things in this country instead simply divesting ourselves of the responsibility.
So let us suppose that our mission as Canadian marketing professionals is to keep Canada Post public, but we still have to modernize the organizational structure and better serve our market. How can we make that happen? The answer comes back to doing proper research and finding out what our market wants and needs. This will be the essential problem that our research project will try to solve. ~~DJB.
*Note: Our SLC School of Business research proposal will be posted here on Tuesday, February 11th.