Publisac restrictions conflict with Canada Post’s obligations

At the heart of the debate: the regulations adopted in Mirabel in 2019 and in Montreal in 2022 to replace the current system of voluntary exclusion (decline) through a voluntary membership system (Sign in).

decline : Residents must put a sticker on their mailboxes to indicate this that they don’t want receive advertising.

Sign in : Residents must put a sticker on their mailboxes to indicate this that you wish receive advertising.

So far, only the Mirabellois regulations have been implemented. The City of Montreal’s effective May 1, 2023. But in recent months, the towns of Laval, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Dorval and the MRC by Marguerite D’Youville have indicated that they intend to regulate bulk mailings in bags as well.

But TC Transcontinental — whose flagship product, the Publisac, has become a symbol of the debate — argues that communities cannot force Canada Post to comply with such regulations, something Crown Corporation confirms.

This argument appears in all of the lawsuits filed by the company challenging the Mirabel and Montreal regulations in court, arguing, among other things, that the system of voluntary membership (Sign in) is not a viable model.

TC Transcontinental claims to distribute around 100 weekly newspapers throughout Quebec through Publisac.

Photo: Radio Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Local newspapers are caught in the crossfire. Publishers already struggling with significant financial challenges may need to trade the Publisac for Canada Post’s much more expensive services.

Municipalities dance along

Laval’s elected officials first accepted on June 8 a proposal from councilor Alexandre Warnet to mandate senior management explore the possibility of banning the distribution of bags containing promotional material […] with simultaneous possibility of voluntary membership for the citizens.

The following day, the mayors of the six municipalities of MRC de Marguerite-D’Youville (Sainte-Julie, Varennes, Saint-Amable, Contrecoeur, Verchères and Calixa-Lavallée) also adopted a resolution asking for financial support from Quebec and Ottawa Door-to-door distribution of local and regional newspapers through Canada Postsince he was desirable to impose some sort of distribution of voluntary membership in Publisac.

Then, on July 12, the town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu took action: the municipal council adopted a statute introducing a voluntary membership system (Sign in), which, like in Montreal, is scheduled to come into force on May 1, 2023.

I really believe that we have shown political courage, welcomes the initiator of the settlement, Councilor François Roy. I’m glad to know that we’re technically the third city in Quebec to follow suit. I think Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu will become an example for Quebec.

The community of Dorval on the West Island could also move in this direction. Mayor Marc Doret has confirmed to Radio-Canada in recent days that he can be heard follow the direction taken over by the City of Montreal. However, he wants to wait and see how the regulation will be implemented next year.

Rules discriminatory?

François Taschenreau, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, TC Transcontinental, regret that new communities, in turn, consider restricting the distribution of the Publisac.

According to him, the system of voluntary exclusion (decline) is working. According to company estimates, 200,000 Quebecers are already using it.

Among other things, Mr. Taschenreau points out that the Publisac satisfies a significant demand from consumers who Especially with the current inflationare looking for solutions to save money and enable retailers and local newspaper publishers to reach their audiences at cheap cost.

TC Transcontinental also criticizes the character in its lawsuits discriminatory Ordinances passed by the cities of Mirabel and Montreal. His lawyers refer to a disguised expropriation.

Because the law doesn’t allow Canadian municipalities to impose their views on corporate bodies like Canada Post. By adopting restrictive rules, municipalities instead allow the creation of a monopoly in favor of the national company, which is not permitted by any enabling legislationthe company argues.

Necessary to deliver

Canada Post declined our interview requests. However, the state-owned company confirms that it does not have to comply with new municipal regulations on the distribution of printed advertising.

As the national postal service provider, Canada Post is committed to delivering all properly prepared and paid for mail, including unaddressed direct mail.a spokesman told us via email.

The latter invokes the Canada Post Corporation Act and the Canadian Postal Service Charter, which also confirms Canada Post’s commitment to deliver the mail.

Finally, Crown Corporation notes that Canadians can still opt out of receiving unaddressed mail by enrolling in the Consumers’ Choice program, although it does not apply to state and political mailings or community newspapers.

When Canada Post takes over

In Mirabel, where the statutes passed in 2019 finally came into force last spring, TC Transcontinental stopped selling the Publisac through its own sales network.

After being dismissed by the Supreme Court, the company must now comply with municipal regulations, which it continues to challenge in the Court of Appeal. Canada Post has now taken over distribution of the Publisac.

Local residents don’t see much of a difference. Canada Post is not required to comply with the voluntary membership scheme (Sign in) TC Transcontinental bagged ads will continue to be delivered to all addresses as standard. Only one sector – Mirabel-en-Haut – stopped receiving the Publisac, a situation in the interim what is corrected in the next weeksassures François Taschenreau.

The city’s director of communications services, Caroline Thibault, also notes that Canada Post mail carriers respect the stickers of the voluntary exclusion system (decline).

A label affixed to a window indicating refusal to receive advertising leaflets.

TC Transcontinental estimates that 200,000 Quebecers are already taking advantage of the voluntary exclusion system by using this type of sticker.

Photo: Radio Canada / Ivanoh Demers

In short, little has changed, except that residents who have a PO box will now receive the Publisac in it and no longer on their doorstep.

Mirabel City Trial Attorney Me Karine Lalonger confirms that the city government suspected such a situation might arise. We knew that since mail delivery is a federal jurisdiction, the regulations could not apply to Canada Postshe admits.

Did we know Canada Post could take over? I think so. Was that the aim of the elected officials in Mirabel? I do not think so. »

A quote from Me Karine Lalonger, City of Mirabel Trial Attorney

The mayor of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Andrée Bouchard, fears that too Status quo when the regulation on the distribution of printed advertising comes into force in 2023. I’m worried about itshe admits.

Should Canadian law be changed to force Canada Post to comply with municipal regulations? We will make the necessary representations to the necessary authoritiesreplies Mrs. Bouchard.

Back in 2019, the final report of the public consultation on flyer control in the greater Montreal area – which led to the adoption of the 2022 statute – was recommended opt-in]”,”text”:”faire des représentations auprès du gouvernement du Canada dans le but d’obtenir un engagement de sa part [pour que] Postes Canada adapte ses pratiques au modèle d’adhésion [opt-in]”}}”>Approach the Government of Canada for approval [pour que] Canada Post is aligning its practices with the membership model [opt-in].

Radio-Canada sought comment from Canada Post Minister Filomena Tassi, but our request for an interview went unanswered.

Four times the price

Newspaper publishers are now beginning to adapt their practices to the latest developments in this matter.

In Montreal, for example, Métro Média – which publishes about fifteen weekly newspapers in the region – recently entrusted Canada Post with the delivery of the Metro IDS-Verdun, which contains local news from L’Île-des-Soeurs and Verdun. The newspaper used to be inserted into the Publisac, as were the vast majority of the company’s publications.

2023, a forcé Métro Média à modifier radicalement ses façons de faire”,”text”:”L’annonce, en avril dernier, par la Ville de Montréal, de mettre fin à la distribution du Publisac dans sa forme actuelle à partir de mai2023, a forcé Métro Média à modifier radicalement ses façons de faire”}}”>The announcement by the city of Montreal last April that it would stop selling the Publisac in its current form from May 2023 forced Métro Média to radically change its approach., the publisher explained via email. He specified that for the time being the Metro IDS-Verdun was the company’s only weekly magazine delivered by Canada Post.

But this new way of doing things is much more expensive. Métro IDS-Verdun, c’est quatre fois le prix”,”text”:”Dans le cas de Métro IDS-Verdun, c’est quatre fois le prix”}}”>In case of Metro IDS-Verdunit’s four times the pricesaid Metro Media President and General Manager Andrew Mulé.

In Mirabel, where Canada Post acquired TC Transcontinental in the spring, the impact on the local press was zero. The municipality is served by only one newspaper (Mirabel information), which has been supplied by the state-owned company since its launch in August 2021.

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