CSA Defies the Federal Court Ruling

December 2nd, 2018

Thomas Jefferson said that slavery was like holding a wolf by the ears; you don’t like it, but you don’t dare let it go.

He was speaking of risks, specifically the risks to national unity and ultimately of war, and these weighed against the inhumanity of the slave trade.  He was also pinching the quote.

The phrase “holding a wolf by the ears” was first attributed to the Emperor Tiberius.  His biographer, Suetonius, saying; “The cause of his hesitation was fear of the dangers which threatened him on every hand, and often led him to say that he was ‘holding a wolf by the ears.’”  Jefferson might have learned the quote from Suetonius’ biography, for he owned the 1718 edition.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is still doubling down on their awfully expensive litigations.  After losing their latest injunctive action against PS Knight, the CSA launched yet another appeal (covered here).  They’re also defying Federal Court with their public safety allegations, a subject we’ll get to momentarily.  Every move CSA makes, makes it worse for them. 

Our legal counsel once called the CSA’s conduct “baffling”.  Really though, it’s not.  They’re just holding a wolf by the ears.

The CSA has so many liabilities, so many prosecutable practices, that any serious investigation is a serious risk to the Agency and its masses of minions.  That’s why the civil service works so hard to protect CSA.  It’s why they supress investigations, it’s why they send staff to foreign countries to lobby against foreign investigations, it’s why they conceal the contents of Freedom of Information responses, it’s why they slow-walk and stonewall throughout. 

Think of Enron.  Early in the Enron saga, there were some minor dodgy accounting practices, the sort of unethical-yet-tolerated stuff typical to 1990’s Houston corporations.  These minor matters made quite a bit of money though, it sent Enron’s stock price skyward.  That pleased the people with the biggest stock options, being the management, so they did the dodginess again the following year, only more-so.  In time the practice was normalized, referred to in their CFO group as “the stretch.”  Maintaining the high stock price, and preferably growing it year on year, required an ever-increasing stretch, every year.  And at some point, the people doing the stretching weren’t so much rigging the price to profit from it, as rigging the price to prevent being found out about it.  They were holding a big, dangerous thing; they didn’t like it, but they dared not let it go.

As we understand it, earlier this year the CSA decided to fight all battles with PS Knight regardless of cost or sensibility, having calculated that letting it go would cost them dear, would expose them to investigation, to prosecution, and it would obliterate the aura of untouchability they’ve enjoyed as protection for decades.  Like Enron, CSA’s history is the wolf they can’t release.

That brings us to CSA’s decision last month to defy the Federal Court on the injunctive Ruling.  Readers will recall that CSA lost this Ruling quite badly.  The Court Ruled that contrary to CSA’s filings, notable as equal parts hyperbole and bloviation, there really isn’t anything dangerous about PS Knight’s Code book. 

Indeed, said the Judge, while CSA “raised serious safety risks, the evidence [CSA] provided to that effect is not compelling.”  Instead, the Judge characterised CSA’s claims of risks to public safety as merely “small grammatical edits or minor changes” and further noted that none of these were identified in CSA’s own version of the same legal text.

Yet, and here’s the trouble, it’s been a month since the Ruling and CSA is still publicly posting a “Safety Alert” on their website, identifying PS Knight books as dangerous, ushering “urgent safety issues to electrical professionals, the public at large and property owners if [Knight’s Code] is used” and of “safety risks associated with using a lesser-quality imitation of this safety critical document.”

So they’re still warning the public about dangers that Federal Court has Ruled don’t exist.  And all the institutions across Canada that they’d sent warning letters to?  Well, the CSA is refusing to send a retraction to any of them.  They want the smear to stay.

This is a problem at law because the Federal Court’s Ruling is unambiguous that PS Knight books are not a risk.  That CSA broadcasts false warnings about these books is a rather serious defiance of the Ruling. 

Why would they do this?  Well, evidently they think the risk to their house of cards is greater in compliance than in defiance.  Remember; Enron looked solid in the spring of 2001, but was bankrupted in the fall.  Remove one card, and the whole house falls.

For our part, we’re exploring options to correct CSA’s conduct.  Clearly, it harms us to have a Government body publicizing that our books are dangerous.  This falsehood, broadcast in this way, as yet unabated, risks entering common knowledge.  As Churchill put it; “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”  Dealing with that is the challenge.

Oh, and one more thing.  No matter when or how this lands, we’ve got the truth on our side, and that well documented.  And it’ll make a good read, a good watching.

Said Churchill; “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”