Dear Mr. Walter…

January 7th, 2018

We’re starting the year strongly, aren’t we?  Cheers a’plenty at RestoreCSA.

Right after our big win, and right after we announced it on January 2nd, we sent an advisory letter to Mr. John Walter, the CEO of the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).

You see, the big Ruling that found the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) in violation of Canada’s public review law is a big deal at the SCC.  The public review law in question was authored by the SCC, and the SCC is obligated at law to enforce it. 

Specifically, SCC Rules require “immediate suspension” of CSA for any “one or a number of major non-compliances.”  Total breach of public review law is certainly major, and three-thousand “non-compliances” is surely “one or a number” of them.  It’s clear as could be.  The law is clear, the Ruling is clear, and the penalties are clearly prescribed. 

Historically however, the SCC has taken a more, shall we say, nuanced position on legality.  In 2010, after CSA was outed for running a counterfeiting operation, and after a number of Canadian companies had been bankrupted as a result of that conduct, the SCC was asked to enforce the law by suspending CSA’s accreditation.  At law, the SCC was obligated to suspend CSA for 90 days, pending CSA compliance with the SCC regulations they’d been caught violating, and pending a public review of CSA’s reaccreditation application.

As we reported in 2015, the SCC violated its own regulations in order to reaccredit CSA during the 90 day suspension period.  Instead of waiting the full 90 days required at law, the SCC reaccredited CSA after just two weeks.  The victims fumed;  “‘How did the CSA successfully be granted certification on September 30, 2010 when no appeal meeting had been and still hasn’t been heard, or even a date set?  As well, objections to the certification deadline of Dec. 20, 2010 hasn’t even arrived.’”  Quite so.  The SCC trod upon its own regulations to protect CSA.

One should note that because the 2010 reaccreditation of CSA was accomplished by violating the public review law, that reaccreditation is likewise affected by the Bell Ruling.  The CSA has not been legally accredited for certifications of RTM buildings (the subject of CSA’s counterfeiting program) since 2002.  That’s sixteen years.  That’s a lot of breach.

And that’s not all; the SCC order that CSA bring to minimum safety code the RTM units that they’d illegally imported has been cheerfully ignored by CSA since the day it was issued.  That’s a lot of cheerful ignoring -eight years’ worth.

So, are SCC regulations mere window dressing, are they meaningless, are they just drafted to pacify the plebs?  Or does the SCC want to be taken seriously?  Then seriously, SCC, you must respect your laws, honour your responsibilities, and enforce the laws at your authority.

That’s what we said, in slightly more diplomatic language, in our letter to John Walter.

If the law is to be respected, then the law must be enforced, in this case by suspending CSA’s accreditation as a Standards Development Organization, pending their full compliance with public review law, and pending a full 90 day review of their application for reaccreditation.

We said that too.  For transparency and accountability, the letter to John Walter is reproduced in its entirety below.

With enough scrutiny and a fair dose of shaming, the SCC just might come good.  We hope so.

January 2, 2018 Letter to John Walter, CEO of the Standards Council of Canada

Dear Mr. Walter;

You are surely aware of the Dec 22nd Ruling by Justice Bell of the Federal Court (docket T-1178-12), as enclosed.

The Ruling of the Court noted that the Electrical Code “becomes mandatory in several provinces immediately upon its publication.”  In this, the Code “becomes law automatically in some Provinces”.

Public review of legislation is intrinsic to democratic society.  Quoting Justice Bell;  “Contrary to CSA’s assertions, large swathes of the Canadian public will have no choice but to comply with the Code once it is published in 2018.  This makes the public review requirement particularly important.”

If CSA were to violate public review laws in the development of standards, the “public in many provinces […] would become subject to a regulatory scheme that has been developed in a manner inconsistent with legislative intent.”

In this context, the Court has Ruled that “the mature Code has clearly not been available for public comment for 60 days.”

The CSA has been Ruled in violation of law.

Yet all of CSA’s >3,000 standards have been published in the same manner, and under the same Standards Council of Canada (SCC) “procedure” as the electrical Code, that is, “contrary to the Council’s SDO accreditation requirements.”

The SCC will now deal with CSA’s three thousand violations of the public review law / SDO regulations.

I have read the documents concerning the SCC’s violation of its own accreditation process in order to protect CSA in 2010 (ref: the CSA 2002-2010 counterfeiting program).  I trust that you appreciate the difficulties of similarly ignoring SCC regulations regarding CSA violations on this scale.

Rather, I think it reasonable to expect that the SCC comply with its own regulations on such matters by issuing an immediate suspension of CSA’s accreditation, pursuant to Sec.6.10.1 of the SCC’s Policy for the Suspension and Withdrawal of Accreditation and the Resolution of Complaints, Disputes and Appeals (CAN-P-15:2012).

Specifically, I note that immediate suspension is prescribed when the SCC “has found one or a number of major non-compliances.”  Three thousand non-compliances would appear to qualify.  Further, the SCC prescribes immediate suspension when an accredited entity “brings the accreditation body into disrepute.”  Again, the CSA relied heavily on SCC accreditation processes, audit results, etc. without, of course, noting that these SCC audits and regulations had themselves been violated by the SCC in order to generate a clean result for CSA.  Further, the reputation of the SCC has taken a drubbing in its testimony before Justice Bell that the SCC permits CSA to define its own compliance with law. 

Quoting from the Ruling;  “the harm to the Moving Party and the public of improperly implementing regulations constitutes, in my view, irreparable harm.”

As the suspension of CSA is within your authority, and as SCC regulations place this requirement within your responsibility and that without necessitating an external complaint, and as the status quo has been Ruled an irreparable harm to society, and as CSA’s lawless conduct responsible for this harm has now been confirmed in a Federal Court Ruling, will you now exercise your authority to immediately suspend CSA’s accreditation as a Standards Development Organization, pending full CSA compliance in all of its standards with the SCC public review law?