The federal government has recently posted an RFP open to technology vendors that want to win a contract to provide a secure electronic channel for electronic commerce between the feds and its suppliers. While the government has stated that companies which partner with Canada Post will be given a level of priority over others, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance has expressed strong concerns, as this July 20 letter indicates. Dear Mr. Gagliano: I am writing to express the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance's serious concern about the tendering process for the secure network which is the foundation of the Government Online initiative announced in the throne speech last fall. CATAAlliance is the trade association which represents Canada's high tech industry. All of our 600 member companies and 1500 affiliated companies use the Internet as a key business tool. Many of our members are major electronic commerce players, providing the products and services which make it possible for Canadians to compete in the global e-commerce market. The closer they are to the action, the more concerned they are about the problems surrounding the secure network. CATAAlliance's first concern is the attempt by Canada Post to have its EPOST service become the secure channel. Canada Post is interfering in the public tender process which is essential to the efficient, cost-effective delivery of government services to the public, by using political influence to overturn sound decision making. It is attempting to extend its monopoly over mail into the world of e-commerce by unfair means. The inevitable result will be inefficient, costly services which will handicap citizens, businesses and government alike. While we are confident that Canada Post will be prevented from subverting the public tender process, CATAAlliance is concerned that Canada Post will exploit its unfair advantages over the private sector in bidding on the secure network....t will use profits from its mail business to subsidize its e-commerce bid. We are well aware that Canada Post will deny the cross-subsidy charge, but there is plentiful evidence of the practice. George Radwanski cited it in his 1996 report. It is currently the subject of a case before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal. Credit Union Central of Canada has raised it in regard to Canada Post's provision of banking services. Cross-subsidies tilt the competitive field in favour of Canada Post. It is no secret that huge opportunities exist for Canadian business in global electronic commerce. Our members are aggressive, vibrant competitors, offering leading edge technology and services. They should not be handicapped in competing for one of the biggest e-business deals in Canada by unfair competition from a government agency. This sends entirely the wrong message to the world about Canada as a high tech economy. Canada Post's intervention in the tendering process has caused a major delay in delivering this highly strategic project for the government. We urge you to place Canada Post on a level playing field with the private sector, and to call for tenders on the secure network without further delay.