The Valentine's Day cards that 'were not exactly sent with love' to MPs

The Valentine's Day cards had hearts on them, but they weren't what they seemed.

In 1979, postal workers hoped to draw media attention with cards sent to elected officials

In 1979, postal workers took advantage of Valentine's Day news coverage to draw attention to their efforts to secure better working conditions. 2:08

The Valentine's Day cards had hearts on them, but they weren't what they seemed.

Postal workers sought to deliver the cards to members of Parliament to send a message — and it wasn't a message of admiration.

"Although it's Valentine's Day, these gifts were not exactly sent with love," the CBC's Knowlton Nash told viewers on The National on Feb. 14, 1979.

The large funeral-style wreath that was intended for delivery to the prime minister, however, was more on point.

No progress for the postal workers

The sign placed on the front of the truck above proclaimed the continuing struggle of Canada's postal workers. (The National/CBC Archives)

Reporter Frank Hilliard explained why.

"The postal workers have tried everything ... grievances, slowdowns, wildcats and national strikes," Hilliard said, summarizing the postal workers' efforts to get what they wanted from their employer.

"Nothing has forced the government to change its basic contract offer."

That's why the postal workers were trying the tactic they delivered on Valentine's Day, using the cards and flowers to draw media attention to their struggle.

A political message

Jean-Claude Parrot, the president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, is seen speaking with reporters on Parliament Hill on Feb. 14, 1979. (The National/CBC Archives)

Jean-Claude Parrot, the national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, was present as an attempt was made to deliver the wreath to then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the cards to parliamentarians.

"We intend to show to the government that the postal workers' struggle continues," Parrot told reporters.

"They took away our right to negotiate, they took away our right to strike, they're taking all the rights of postal workers away."

'We'll be here ... will you?'

The postal workers had a large wreath they attempted to deliver to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on Feb. 14, 1979. (The National/CBC Archives)

The postal workers' wreath came with wrapped with a black ribbon that read "Trudeau's election hopes." (Sure enough, Trudeau and the federal Liberals would lose an election that year, though they would return to power the following year.)

The Globe and Mail reported in its next-day paper that the cards read: "We'll be here after election day. Will you?"

Parrot and the postal workers made several attempts on Parliament Hill to deliver the cards and the wreath, but ended up having to hands the cards over to John Rodriguez, a New Democrat MP who came to retrieve the cards from them.

Hilliard said the cards were intended "to tell MPs that the postal union isn't going to be anyone's Valentine without a final, mutual settlement about standing problems."