Canada Post chair delivers sharp rebuke to Liberals over call for CEO's resignation

The chair of Canada Post's board of directors has come to the defence of the Crown corporation's president, Deepak Chopra, writing to the new Liberal government and demanding it withdraw a letter calling on Chopra to resign.

Crown corporation fires back after government demands its president step down

Canada Post president and CEO Deepak Chopra is one of 33 federal Conservative appointees the Liberal government has asked to step aside voluntarily. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Canada Post is sending a clear message to the federal government: Leave our president alone. 

The chair of the Crown corporation's board of directors has written to Dominic Leblanc, government leader in the House of Commons, demanding he withdraw a letter that was sent to Canada Post president Deepak Chopra and 32 other Conservative appointees to federal boards and agencies.

All were appointed or extended in the final days of the Harper government before the election was called. The government's letter asks that the appointees "voluntarily" step aside to allow the government to "establish an open, merit-based appointments system."

Responsible leaders, like Mr. Chopra, who commit to public service in this great country, should be celebrated, and not shamed- Sian Matthews, chair of Canada Post

"This will allow for a new selection process in which you are welcome to participate," the letter says. 

Canada Post on Thursday sent out a letter of its own, delivering a stern rebuke to the government. In it, Sian Matthews, the chair of Canada Post's board of directors, lays out the process by which Chopra was chosen as the company's president. 

"The rigorous selection process for this role included an international search conducted by a leading executive search firm," the letter says. "It was advertised publicly, [and was] competitive and merit-based."

Matthews goes on to list Chopra's qualifications for the job, pointing out he was formerly president and CEO for Canada and Latin America at Pitney Bowes, as well as holding several other executive positions at the company over the course of his career.

'Thoughtful leadership'

Matthews also dismissed any suggestion politics had anything to do with Chopra being named Canada Post president.

"He has no political affiliations," she writes. 

After praising Chopra for his "thoughtful leadership," which she credits for turning the Crown corporation into "a modern post, meeting both the needs of Canadians and our statutory obligation to be financially self-sufficient," Matthews concludes the letter with a request to the new Liberal government.

"We respectfully ask you to withdraw the Dec. 7, 2015 letter. Responsible leaders, like Mr. Chopra, who commit to public service in this great country, should be celebrated, and not shamed."

Matthews was named to the Canada Post board in 2007 and became chair in 2014. The Liberal Party has, in the past, included her on a list of Conservative insiders who were granted federal appointments.

Matthews has donated to the Conservative Party over the years, and was Stephen Harper's official agent when he was elected as a Reform Party MP in Calgary in 1993. She declined comment to CBC News.

'Political game'

This is not the first criticism the new Liberal government has faced for its letter.

"[It's] just a bad political game in my mind," said Surinder Pal, another of the 33 appointees who has been asked to step down.

Pal, who serves on a payments-in-lieu-of-taxes dispute advisory board, said that while he is a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, he is more than qualified for the job. To him, it's the Liberal government that is putting politics ahead of merit.   

"They want to put their own people in," he said.

LeBlanc has said the extensions are an "abuse of power" by the Harper government.

He said he hopes the people who received letters will "do the right thing" and resign. The government has given them until Dec. 18 to make a decision.

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