Can You Trust the CSA?

April 21st, 2014

If someone told you they were 30 years old, and if they looked about that age, you’d likely believe them.  But what if later that year they invited you to their 50th birthday party?  Clearly, this person is either 30 or 50, but they cannot be 30 and 50.

What if this person claimed to be 30 on a dating website and later that year claimed to be 50 to get lower car insurance premiums.  What would that do to their credibility?

RestoreCSA has been routinely annoyed by the contradictory positions of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).  As their situation changes, their stories change.  The CSA has made repeated, contradictory claims on a host of issues, usually adjusting their claims to convenience of profit.

What follows is a small sampling:


What’s your birthday?

“We were established in 1919.”  This is from Suzanne Kiraly, CSA’s EVP of Global Business Strategy, in testimony to Parliament.

The problem of course, is that according to the Federal Government the CSA was actually founded in 1903 as a branch of the British Engineering Standards Committee (BESC).

The CSA’s Doug Morton, Director of Government Relations, also testified to Parliamentary Committee that the CSA was “established in 1919.”  Although Mr. Morton had already stated it, Senator Johnson pressed him to confirm his testimony, asking “When did your organization come into being?”  His response; “I think I said 1919.”  Yes Doug, yes you did.

But the Federal Government had 11 civil servants on CSA’s committees during 1918, the year before we’re told it existed.

In 1998, the CSA informed the Office of Forestry and Environment that it was “established in 1919.” 

But records of the Ministry of Munitions Conference in London the year before, in April of 1918, show CSA delegates as registered attendees.  Records indicate that the CSA sent “two Sectional Sub-Committees;” one concerned with Screw Threads and another with “Aeroplane Parts.”  The CSA seemed fascinated by aircraft parts.  Records show that the CSA sent a delegation to attend the International Aircraft Standards Commission, also held in London, in October of 1918.

In spite of all this, Ms Kiraly, by 2008 the CSA’s President of Standards, once again claimed before Parliament that the CSA was “established in 1919.”  Even the CSA’s official corporate history, published as the unimaginatively titled Our History, claims that the CSA didn’t exist prior to 1919.  In the official text; “What began in 1919 as a fledgling operation…” 

And Mr. Morton left no room for confusion in terms, as between “established” and “re-established.”  As he said, “we have been, as I mentioned in my remarks, in existence for 94 years.”  That brings him to 1919.

Yet records show that Federal Government subsidy was flowing into the CSA during the First World War, which ended a year earlier, in 1918.  Indeed, the CSA had been bringing the work of the Committee “to the attention of the Canadian Government” in the years prior to 1919.  By the way folks, that’s called lobbying.  The CSA has been milking taxpayers for decades even, apparently, before they existed.


Who pays for nuclear standards?

According to Doug Morton, “the standards we write for the nuclear sector are entirely funded by the major organizations involved in that sector.”

But according to official filings of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the CNSC furnished “440 person days” of labour in “contribution” to the work of the CSA and another half million dollars in payments from the CNSC to subsequently access that work.  In rough figures, the CNSC is transferring one million dollars per year to the CSA for the development of nuclear regulations.  And the CNSC of course, isn’t a “major organization involved in that sector,” the CNSC is the Federal Government.

There’s actually quite a story behind this activity.  It seems that the CNSC is legally accountable for its regulatory activity, whereas the Government has given the CSA broad immunities from litigation.  In this context, the CNSC appears to be spending its “440 person days” developing nuclear regulations as they are mandated to, and then “contributing” the work of their own staff to the CSA in order to make the CSA responsible for that work.  Then the CNSC pays money to the CSA to access the regulations that CNSC-come-CSA staff developed.  This is what’s called an in-and-out process, though its more commonly known as “laundering”. 


Are standards compromised by vested interests?

Senator Lang:  “[the CSA is] not beholden to any particular stakeholder.  You operate independently and, therefore, no vested interest can be put to you or allegations can be put to your organization.  Is that correct?”

Mr. Morton:  “That is correct, Senator.”

But it isn’t correct.  As RestoreCSA reported in January, a partial transcript of a closed-door CSA meeting records a standing offer; that the CSA will sell custom legislation, tailored to any customer willing to pay “$120,000 to $250,000” per law.


Is committee voting clean or are votes for sale?

“Because we have a balanced matrix approach in our committees,” claimed Mr. Morton, “even though [entities] are funding [development] they only get one vote.  We ensure that no one company, industry or government department can dominate the process.”

In fact however, the CSA sells votes at committees for “$2,000 for 2 votes, $4,000 for 4 votes, and $6,000 for 8 votes.”

The same attitude applies to seats at legislative committee.  The CSA divides paying members into four “levels” depending on how much influence they have paid for; Level 1 affords the purchaser 2 seats at the Committee, Level 2 brings 4 seats, Level 3 brings 8 seats, and those citizens who pay CSA nothing have no say in the laws that apply to them.

Indeed, P.S. Knight Co. Ltd. has been approached on several occasions by the CSA with offers of discounted rates to participate in their legislative committees.  We declined their offers, we have never traded money for influence.


Who represents the consumer at CSA committees?

Mr. Morton:  “We want to ensure that, on our committees, anybody who will be impacted by a standard has a voice at the table.”

Once, in 2009, a consumer representative was invited to attend a CSA committee meeting.  This person didn’t speak there or participate, they hadn’t paid for the right to vote.  Rather, they just observed proceedings.  Before the meeting ended, this person “was taken to another room and [was] told that I was there illegally and would be contacted by their lawyers.”

In practice then, not only do consumers not have a “voice at the table,” but they aren’t even permitted to listen to the voices that paid for their seats at the table.


Does CSA accept workable existing standards instead of drafting new ones?

“Typically,” said Ms Kiraly, “CSA will ask its members to consider the values used in existing standards before creating a new requirement.”

In practice however, “the CSA official advised that even if safety standards already existed, ‘every time a foreign standard is sold, the funds go to the foreign organization’.” 

So, no, in other words.


How many standards has CSA developed?

3,000 standards - Suzanne Kiraly in 2010
1,900 standards - CSA Tawian in 2013


How much legislation does CSA draft?

“Currently [in 2010], about 40% of our standards are cited in legislation” (being about 1,200 laws) - Suzanne Kiraly
About 33% of CSA standards are legislation in 2012 (being about 630 laws) - CSA Taiwan


How many members does CSA have?

7,500 - Suzanne Kiraly in 2010
9,000 - CSA’s Our History publication in 2009


Where is the CSA headquartered?

Canada  -  CSA office in Canada
Ohio, USA   - CSA office in Taiwan


Is the committee process transparent such that standards can be seen prior to publication?

Suzanne Kiraly - The standards are “able to be seen before they were published, as well as after they were published.”

This is nonsense.  The CSA specifically conceals electrical legislation from the public, including PS Knight Co Ltd, until full publication.  Indeed, the CSA actually withholds legislation from public view until their commercial publications which are based upon it are ready for release. 


Can the CSA amend legislation?

“The provinces and territories develop and amend boiler and pressure vessel safety regulations in Canada. CSA has no authority in this regard” - Kiraly in 2010

The Ontario Legislation Act states that CSA’s laws “may be incorporated subject to such changes as the maker of the regulation considers necessary.”  This legislation dates from 2006, in force for four years before Ms Kiraly contradicted it.

Further, a wide variety of Federal and provincial laws include “accepted as amended” clauses which specifically empower the CSA to amend legislation.


What does a CSA certification sticker mean?

“That mark on a product means a product meets a standard.”  - Kiraly

“The [CSA] certification label […] provides no assurance or guarantee that a modular home manufactured during that time and bearing a CSA Standards mark of approval conforms to the Code.”  - Official warning issued by the Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission in February, 2013.

The CSA was selling counterfeit safety stickers for eight years, from 2002 until August of 2010.  Ironically, Ms Kiraly made her claim to Parliament on June 10th, 2010, two months before being caught.


Does CSA oversee product manufacturing?

CSA’s claim to Parliament on June 10, 2010:

“CSA allows manufacturers to put a mark on their product; and we will go into a factory about four times a year to ensure that the manufacturer continues to build the product in the same manner that the original design was submitted to us, so that it continues to perform. It is literally application, test and then follow-up service.”

CSA’s claim to the Supreme Court of British Columbia on May 18th, 2010:

“CSA does not have any duty, mandate or authority to oversee the design, manufacture, distribution or use of any product”


Is the CSA dedicated to public safety?

According to their website, the “CSA Group is an […] association dedicated to advancing safety”  (in 2014)

But according to their court submission in British Columbia, the “[CSA] does not owe a duty of care concerning the technical content of standards” 

For reference, “duty of care” is legalese meaning responsibility for, in this case, safety.


And finally…..

Doug Morton’s LinkedIn profile lists his CSA title as “Director, Life Sciences & Business Management,” whereas in Parliament he claims to be the CSA’s Director of Government Relations.

Likewise, in 2008 Suzanne Kiraly was the president of a division within the CSA Group, whereas to Parliament she billed herself as “President of the Canadian Standards Association.”  By 2010, Ms Kiraly held the title of EVP, Global Business Strategy, whereas in Parliament she claimed the title of EVP, Government Relations.

This may seem familiar, RestoreCSA readers will recall that the CSA’s Lisa Ebberman once claimed to be employed at CSA International four years before it existed.

Also, the CSA document referenced above, called Our History, was deleted from their website after the launch of RestoreCSA.com.

The final irony?  According to Morton, “one of the motivations for creating my job was to make sure that people at the federal government level understood what the CSA story actually was.”