National News

Franking: free mail privileges explained

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The controversy over New Democrat MPs' allegedly improper use of their free parliamentary mailing privileges to blanket 26 ridings with almost 2 million partisan missives has put the spotlight on "franking."

Franking refers to a mark or signature on an envelope signifying that it is to be mailed free of charge.

It's a long-standing privilege enjoyed by members of both houses of Parliament and by all Canadians, intended to ensure postage costs don't inhibit communication between citizens and their government.

Under the Canada Post Corporation Act, regular mail to or from the following is free of charge:

— the Governor General

— MPs

— Senators

— Speaker of the House of Commons

— Speaker of the Senate

— Parliamentary librarian

— House of Commons ethics commissioner

— Senate ethics officer

In addition, the act specifies that MPs may send their constituents four unaddressed "mailings of printed matter" — what the post office calls unaddressed ad mail — each calendar year, free of charge.

MPs who choose to send more than four unaddressed mass mailings in a year, are given a "deeply discounted rate," according to Canada Post.

Last year, the post office says it delivered some 6 million franked letters and almost 132 million pieces of unaddressed ad mail.

The federal government provides Canada Post with an annual subsidy of $22 million to help cover the cost of franked parliamentary mail and the cost of free mailings of materials to the blind.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 16 edition online now. Browse the archives.