Postal workers in Canada have refused to handle a homophobic pamphlet that was produced by a Christian fundamentalist group.
Neither rain, nor hail, nor sleet, nor snow nor refusal to deliver an anti-gay pamphlet will keep the mail from getting through.
That seemed to be the message yesterday from Canada Post in reacting to a brief walkout over the letter carriers union's refusal to deliver a pamphlet the union regards as "homophobic" and "hate mail."
The problem began Wednesday when letter carriers at Station F on the city's east side were told they had to carry the pamphlets or face disciplinary action, said Ken Mooney, the Vancouver local president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
"One person actually refused to touch it and there were others who said they are not going to deliver it," Mooney said.
Canada Post spokeswoman Colleen Frick had a different take, saying the only postie required to carry it on his route was "intimidated" by his colleagues. "He did not refuse it," she said. "He was basically intimidated into not delivering it and that's not appropriate."
The pamphlet is the September edition of The Prophetic Word, published by the Fundamentalist Baptist Mission in Waterford, Ont. The article that spurred the dispute was called The Plague of this 21st Century: The Consequences of the sin of Homosexuality (AIDS).
"It's homophobic," Mooney said. "It's really offensive."
Mooney said the corporation should not be in the business of delivering "hate mail."
Frick said "hate mail" is not a legal term she was aware of and "it's not in the (Canada Post Corporation Act). So we don't speak about mail in terms of this and we're not about to go into the business of defining what hate mail is," she said.
By yesterday, the issue seemed to have cooled but was not settled. Mooney says the 50 letter carriers were told they would not have to carry the pamphlet. But Frick countered that they didn't have to carry it — yesterday. "It will be delivered at some point in the next two days," she said, explaining that the corporation has three days to deliver ad mail from the time it arrives at the depot.
The posties don't have the right to refuse to deliver the mail, she said. The contract between the corporation and the union requires them to deliver mail the corporation deems acceptable. "And this item was deemed such."
She said she was certain the 200 pamphlets would be delivered by a carrier in the depot.
Mooney acknowledged the possibility of disciplinary action if all carriers refuse. "They may want to adjust the attitude of some employees," he said.