We Went Public
We launched RestoreCSA in May, 2013, and we had some early media coverage. We were awfully pleased, it’s hard to get media coverage of regulatory issues. But the National Post put us on their cover, the CBC and SunTV did segments on us, as did some syndicated radio programs. People heard about us, and they responded.
Apparently, the CSA had been targeting lots of people. They were mostly small businesses, mom-and-pop outfits, so they didn’t really make the news. But suddenly they saw media coverage of RestoreCSA. They were hearing our story and recognizing it as their story too, these various CSA victims found that they weren’t alone.
They called us, and we heard their stories of CSA shakedowns and demands for protection payments. A community of CSA’s victims were coming forward, sharing information, and were starting to work together. From this process came a wealth of information on CSA’s activities.
Sensing that CSA was far dirtier than we originally thought, we started aggressively researching their activities worldwide. We translated their foreign websites, comparing what they told foreign citizens with what they told Canadians. We found that CSA has been awfully flexible with truth, that their statements to Parliament and to Court and to the media were often in conflict, mostly false, and in practice meant nothing whatsoever.
We also learned the extent of CSA’s sales of influence over legislation. Any MP who tried what CSA does everyday would be locked up.
Then we learned that CSA was spending $65k per day on travel. That’s enough for 296 return airfares from Toronto to Ottawa every day. That’s astonishing; that needs correction. It also smells funny, like there’s something else beneath the surface of their accounting.
Of course, throughout 2013 we were reporting on all of these discoveries and CSA was mightily miffed by it all. But their response was pitifully slapdash. They responded to our articles by deleting their online statements, concealing previously public reports, etc. -evidence destruction, folks; that was their answer to it all.
As the year ended we reported on one of CSA’s board members, a Ms France Pegeot, who was also a senior civil servant in the Federal Government, a massive conflict of interests if there ever was one. She was shortly to be transferred within Government to the Department of Justice. This transfer was taking place in the context of requests of the Department of Justice to commence criminal investigations into CSA conduct.
Within a week of Pegeot’s arrival, the DoJ announced that they’d thought it over and decided against investigating her other employer.
Still, the year went well. We were learning about our opponent, and 2014 would bring an even bigger lesson.