History of the Cppa

On Tuesday, August 10, 1971, Canadian Pacific employees led by Brothers Bradshaw, Fisher, Stanford and Dargewitcz and five other employees held the first meeting in Montreal, Quebec, in the movement to organize the employees working for the Department of Investigation. On Friday, October 29, 1971, a second meeting of employees was held and forty-four employees attended and a collection was commenced to pay for unionizing and $36.00 was collected.

On Thursday, November 4, 1971, a third meeting was held in Montreal and Brother Bradshaw was appointed Chairman and Brother Conway was appointed as Secretary. There were thirty-eight employees in attendance. Also a collection was taken and an additional $34.78 was raised.

At the same meeting of employees of the Canadian Pacific Department of Investigation it was proposed by Brother James G. Conway and seconded by Brother Glen Holder;

“That it be resolved that such an Association be formed under the name of the Canadian Pacific Police Association and that the employees be asked to approve such a motion.”

This motion was unanimously passed by thirty-eight employees.

On Saturday, December 11, 1971, a meeting of the Association was held in Montreal at the Royal Canadian Hussars Armoury, Men’s Mess, and forty-two employees attended. An initiation fee of $2.00 was established and monthly dues were set at $6.00 per month. It was reported that in the Atlantic and Eastern Regions we had already signed up 128 members. Mr. Robert Skelly was introduced to the membership and was approved as attorney for the Association.

Elections were called for and Brothers Holder, James and Doucette were nominated for the position of President and Brother James was elected as the first President of the Canadian Pacific Police Association. Brothers Holder, Conway and Milne were nominated for the position of Vice-President and brother Holder was elected as Vice- President. Brothers Houle and Conway were nominated for the position of Secretary and Brother Conway was elected as the Secretary. Brother Houle was the only nominee for the position of Treasurer and he was acclaimed to that position.

It was agreed to proceed to Certification in Ottawa before the federal Labour Board.

Signing the first agreement

(Left to right) Matt Doucette, Fred James, William Rinder

group signing agreement

Association Members, Labour Relation and Department Officer Signing the first agreement, June 6, 1973.

Interview with matt doucette

In August, 2006, Ontario District Representative Paul Fish interviewed Matt Doucette for the then-new C.P.P.A. Website. Matt was involved with the Association almost from day one and he held the Secretary’s and then the President’s position on the Executive for many years.

The interview:

Paul  – What circumstances lead to the formation of the Canadian Pacific Police Association?

Matt  – One of the major reasons that led to the formation was, of course, working conditions. As an example, it was not unusual here in the east, anyway, to finish work at 1530 hrs. and receive a phone call at 1900 hours telling you to report for duty at 2330 hours that same night which would count as your shift for the following day. No overtime for this kind of change. The number one reason the association was formed however was in 1970 – 1971, when the department management began to reduce the Police numbers. They did this by creating a Security-Guard division and some constables with over twenty-five years service were reduced in rank and of course, salary. This is what caused the big push.

Paul  – Can you outline some of the challenges that were encountered as the C.P.P.A. was created?

Matt  – The major problem or challenge was the size of the country with members located in so many cities. There was a need to have at least sixty-five percent of the active members signed up in order to approach the Labour Department for certification.
Paul  – How did C.P. Police management react when they became aware of this initiative?

Matt  – They did not take this initiative very well at all. They spoke to every one up to the rank of Investigator trying scare tactics, such as the Dept. will fold and many members believed it. That’s why the drive to include everyone up to Investigator was dropped as the numbers above Sergeant was so low that the percentage was in jeopardy.

Paul  – Approximately how many uniform staff where there across the system at this time?

Matt  – In the start of the 70’s, there were over 400 Constables and Sergeants across Canada.

Paul  – What was the level of support amongst the rank and file?

Matt  – Once the Association was up and running, certificate and all, the support was pretty good. Higher in the east of course, where it all started.

Paul  – What was the newly founded C.P.P.A.’s first major challenge and how did it work out?

Matt  – I suppose the first major challenge was a first contract. It took quite a while but in the end, for a first contract, it was a good one.

Paul  – We are approaching the 35th anniversary of the founding of the C.P.P.A. Over the years there have been many changes to both Canadian Pacific Railway and to the Canadian Pacific Railway Police Service. Is the C.P.P.A. as relevant and necessary today as it was in its formative years?

Matt  – I had been a member of two other unions before the C.P.P.A. and was always a believer in them. Even more so after I began to deal with senior management at Department and Company levels. I was, at first, amazed to see the lengths they would go to in order to win. I hope that todays management has changed somewhat. However, I believe that while we will be disappointed with our reps at times, it is a necessity and will only be as good as the membership and reps make it.


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