Defending public services during the election and beyond

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

Like this podcast? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Wendy Goldsmith and Dru Oja Jay. They work at Friends of Public Services, a very new organization that is mobilizing people during the election campaign to fight against cuts, the threat of privatization, and attacks on home delivery at Canada Post, and is developing a longer-term vision to defend and enhance public services more generally.

The current federal Conservative government did not invent attacks on public services. In fact, the single biggest assault on them was probably the 1995 federal budget delivered under the Chrétien Liberals, and you can make a good case the attacks started even earlier. But the Harper Conservatives have, in this age of global austerity, carried such attacks forward with an unprecedented vigour and ideological resolve. Despite that, however, such issues have occupied less space in public discussion during the current federal election campaign than many had hoped, in large part because of the distraction created by the most blatant and awful deployment of racism in modern Canadian electoral history by the incumbent Conservatives, but also because the differences among the major parties are smaller on the issue of public services than might have been the case in earlier generations.

Yet as the election clock ticks down, there are groups out there working tirelessly in the closing weeks of the campaign to give voice to the simmering anger that is indeed present among many ordinary Canadians at the way cuts, privatization, and the imposition of the logic of the market have been used to attack the imperfect but substantive mechanisms that have been built over decades for us to meet urgent needs and to foster equality. One group insistently raising this issue is Friends of Public Services.

Friends of Public Services has only been around for a few months. It sprang out of a generalized sense of the urgency of campaigning against austerity and in favour of public services, and out of a sense of both crisis and opportunity specifically produced by Canada Post's plan to abolish home delivery (likely as a prelude to privatizing much of the postal service) and the growing but fragmented resistance to that plan in communities across the country. After a rapid, intense process of strategizing and organization building, the group is focusing on supporting, reinvigorating, and providing infrastructure, materials, and social media support to local grassroots campaigns, with a particular emphasis on the very direct threat of the end of home postal delivery supported by the governing Conservatives. In the longer term, the group hopes to catalyze conversation and action focused not only on defending public services that currently exist, but on improving, strengthening, and radically democratizing services such that they can more successfully realize the vision of meeting needs, redistributing wealth and power, and knitting a supportive social fabric.

Goldsmith and Jay talk with me a bit about public services and the attacks on them in general, about the planned cuts at Canada Post and resistance to them, about their organization and its initial high-energy campaign, and about what a transformative vision that centres public services might look like.

To learn more about Friends of Public Services, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

Like this podcast? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.