CSA Backs Itself Into a Corner (Again)

October 11th, 2013

When the CSA began, “the idea was to have more public safety in railroads and bridges and electrical products.”  Thus spake Ash Sahi, CEO of CSA, on September 29, 2013.

Of course, the CSA says a lot of things that aren’t entirely factual.  They’re sort-of true, slightly true.  Truthy.  They have an appearance of truth without being in any way, actually, true.

So, apparently the CSA began with a focus on “railroads and bridges” and, in third place, “electrical products.”  But the original CSA charter, its founding document of 1919, doesn’t even mention railroads or bridges.  Actually, the document defines “the idea” of CSA as to “coordinate the efforts of producers and others for the improvement and standardization of engineering materials.”  In fairness, the charter allows CSA to promote standards in “other matters and things,” but that hardly qualifies as a “focus” on railroads or bridges or, for that matter, any of the other “things” specifically not listed.

The above quote was from the Globe and Mail, but the CSA spreads its revisionism equally.  They told the National Post that the CSA was “founded nearly 100 years ago with a focus on railway and bridge safety.”  No mention of electrical this time, apparently third place got kicked off the podium.

But this isn’t an anomaly, CSA statements rarely have more than a tenuous hold of truth.  Ash Sahi recently spoke of CSA oversight of manufacturing.  Read carefully:  “Our customers manufactured products in Asia, then shipped them back here, and they still needed those products to be tested and certified. For a long time we would fly engineers over there, but then we decided to invest in our own laboratories in China.”  So they were flying engineers to Asia to oversee manufacturing, and testing and certifying the products presumably at the site of manufacturing.

Compare it to this statement: “The CSA does not have any duty, mandate or authority to oversee the design, manufacture, distribution or use of any product […].”  So they have no authority to oversee the manufacturing that they were flying engineers to Asia to oversee.

The first statement was made in 2013 to the Globe and Mail, the second statement was filed as court testimony in BC during 2010.  Obviously, these two statements are in conflict, one is true of CSA and the other is typical of CSA.

The CSA also expresses their lack of “mandate or authority to oversee” manufacturing by keeping “about forty engineers at BMW” who oversee the manufacturing facility “every day.”  As a further tribute to their lack of authority or mandate to oversee manufacturing, the CSA has “at least a dozen labs and 200 employees in China” engaged in manufacturing oversight.

What does CSA call this oversight?  They call it “testing and certification.”  How do you suppose that a modular building is “tested and certified”?  How does a CSA employee or contractor ensure that the right wiring is in the wall?  They have to inspect that wiring before the wall is closed-in. They inspect that wiring during manufacture and in the manufacturing facility.  This is what manufacturing oversight is, one cannot oversee manufacturing without overseeing manufacturing.  Yet they have “no mandate or authority” to do so.

See the problem?  The CSA claims no authority in court, while claiming total authority in the media.

And it gets worse.  In court testimony, the CSA claimed that they only “facilitate” the development of standards and are “not responsible for the technical content.”  Yet the CSA told the media that the CSA “creates” the standards.  Not “facilitates” somebody else’s work to create standards, but that CSA itself “creates” those standards.  So they told the court one thing and the media the opposite.  Do you see a pattern here?

In 2006, the CSA even sent a false set of legal documents to P.S. Knight Co.  The CSA knew that they were fake while assuring us that they were genuine.  We’ve been seeing a pattern for some time.

Sometimes their statements get silly.  Do you remember Anthony Toderian?  He’s the CSA’s media relations person handling RestoreCSA inquiries.  This is what Anthony said on Oct 6th, the “CSA Group is not a regulator and never has been …nor is it part of government.”  Alright, lets review.  The CSA is responsible for coordinating the drafting of regulations, the organizing of regulations for government, lobbying for regulations, the amending of regulations to replace earlier, spent regulations, the promulgation of regulations and the ongoing dissemination of regulations.  These activities are regulatory activity, they are the definition of regulatory activity. 

Anthony also said that CSA isn’t “part of government.”  Wow.  Lets ponder: The CSA was created by an act of Parliament in the form of a federal charter, they’re federally mandated to regulate standards, they report to the Minister of Industry, they have powers of taxation, the RCMP and Industry Canada’s Competition Bureau confirm that CSA is part of government.  Industry Canada itself has confirmed it, and even the staff of Jason Kenney, RestoreCSA’s MP, confirms that CSA is part of government, as does the Library of Parliament.  And in government conduct, the CSA also generates over 1,900 standards, more than a third of which are passed into law.  That’s about 700 legal statutes.  The CSA drafts about 700 laws, and the drafting of laws is intrinsically legislative.  Yet Anthony doesn’t’ think the CSA is “part of government.” 

If the CSA isn’t “part of government,” then we’re dealing with a private corporation enjoying the powers of a legislative committee of Parliament.  That’s explosive, and Anthony said it without coaching from RestoreCSA.  See why we like this guy so much?  RestoreCSA doesn’t hold Anthony’s assessment of the situation in high regard, no matter how amusing it may be.

Then Anthony warns that “we are documenting these allegations.”  RestoreCSA has been online for six months already, our pages have been viewed and downloaded thousands of times, our statements have featured repeatedly in national newspapers, on syndicated radio, on weblogs and on television, our letters have been filed and registered in provincial capitals and the National capital and our Parliamentary briefing notes have been spread by now to nearly a thousand recipients in politics and the civil service.  But thanks to Anthony we have one extra copy at CSA, to cover the prospect of spontaneous and inexplicable deletion of everybody else’s copies.

Winston Churchill spoke of “the amateurish assistance of the great feudalists, staggering under the weight of their own dignity.”  That’s the CSA in a single quote.  They are amateurs, yet they think lofty thoughts of themselves; they are clumsy, bloated and bureaucratic. The CSA displays a consistent disregard for honesty in its statements, seemingly at ease making opposing statements on the same issues to different audiences.  And in this, they have backed themselves into quite a few corners.

Canada needs an honest regulator run by competent professionals.  RestoreCSA is committed to recovering CSA to be that honest regulator.  Thank you for your continued support.