‘I think I made my point’: Montreal mayor Coderre takes jackhammer to Canada Post community mailbox base

— An unrepentant Mayor said he stood up for his city after he took a jackhammer to the concrete base for a community mailbox.

“I think I made my point,” Coderre told reporters Friday. “Everywhere in they know that Montreal stood for (its) people.”

A day earlier, the mayor, wearing a hard hat, put both hands on the jackhammer and drilled through the slab installed by Canada Post in a park in the Montreal neighbourhood of Pierrefonds.

A group of local mayors claimed that Canada Post built the base in Anse-à-l’Orme Park without consultation.

“Whatever the cost is, I am going to send the bill to Canada Post,” Coderre said while television crews filmed the scene.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter RayTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter RayMontreal Mayor Denis Coderre, centre, uses a jackhammer to destroy a concrete foundation laid for an unauthorized community mailbox at the entrance to Anse-a-l'Orme Nature Park, in Montreal, on Thursday, August 13, 2015.

He called Canada Post “arrogant” and said the installation of mailboxes in green spaces and parks is “totally disgraceful.”

“Not only are they not consulting, but they are doing what they want and it is totally unacceptable,” said Coderre. “They were supposed to negotiate directly with me.”

The federal Crown corporation is gradually phasing out door-to-door mail delivery service across Canada in favour of community mailboxes. In June, the city of Montreal was one of four municipalities to join the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ lawsuit to attempt to block the implementation of community mailboxes.

On Friday, the mayor defended his actions and said it was a political gesture. He maintains that he has no intention of ripping out other concrete slabs destined for mailboxes — for now.

“I didn’t cross the line that much,” Coderre said.

Not everyone agrees. John Mascarin, a Toronto-based lawyer who specializes in municipal law, said he believes that Coderre was not entitled to remove the concrete slab.

“The federal always, in my view, trumps the provincial or any subservient legislation,” said Mascarin.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Ray THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Ray Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre addresses media following his use of a jackhammer to destroy a concrete foundation, which was laid for an unauthorized community mailbox at the entrance to Anse-a-l'Orme Nature Park, in Montreal, on Thursday, August 13, 2015.

Canada Post may “install, erect or relocate” mailboxes in any public place or public roadway under the Mail Receptacles Regulations. The same regulations state that no person can “relocate or remove any receptacle or device” without “prior authorization” by Canada Post.

The regulations do not outline a specific penalty, but Coderre told reporters that he “had done what (he) had done.”

The Montreal’s firefighters union said the mayor’s actions were “unacceptable” and “probably illegal”. The union also noted that Coderre pursued legal action against municipal workers after a protest led by firefighters against Bill 3 quickly devolved into vandalism at Montreal City Hall in August 2014. Six firefighters were subsequently fired.

“Between trashing a city hall and demolishing a concrete slab, I do not think those are the same things,” said Coderre Friday morning.

Borough mayors said Canada Post has long disregarded the concerns of citizens and municipalities that oppose the mailboxes.

In the case of the community mailbox destined for Anse-à-l’Orme Park, Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Dimitrios Jim Beis said the borough was trying to protect the green space and that Canada Post has been “irresponsible” from the beginning.

Phil Carpenter / MONTREAL GAZETTEPhil Carpenter / MONTREAL GAZETTEA concrete slab built by Canada Post to install community mailboxes, its at the entrance to L'anse a l'orme parc in Pierrefonds, Montreal, Thursday, August 12, 2015.

“It’s time to lift the corporate veil and say no,” said Westmount Mayor Peter Trent at a meeting of local mayors Thursday morning. “Canada Post is owned by us, the citizens. The government represents us.”

Prior to the demolition, Canada Post said it was willing to work with municipalities.

“We are always willing to work with municipalities to find the best locations and discuss any concerns. Our goal is to find sites that are safe, accessible and convenient for the households in each neighbourhood,” the statement said.

Coderre said he has no intention of removing other concrete slabs but wants candidates for the federal election to weigh in on Canada Post’s future.

“I am still awaiting a response from the Liberals and the Conservatives,” said Coderre, a former Liberal cabinet minister.

The Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party have thrown their support behind Coderre. The NDP promised, if it forms the next government, to reinstate home delivery service.

About Kalina Laframboise, Postmedia News