Evaporating Ambiguity

December 2nd, 2013

On June 10th, Halifax MP Geoff Regan filed an Order Paper in Parliament with 13 questions about the CSA.  On November 28th, the Minister of Industry responded. 

James Moore is the federal Minister of Industry, and his response to the Order Paper launched a new series of difficulties for the CSA. 

The first question on the Order Paper was whether the CSA is “a commercial entity or a regulatory entity.”  The Minister responded that “the CSA is not a regulatory entity.”  Note that the Minister did not say that the CSA was commercial, only that it wasn’t a regulatory entity.

The Minister’s problem is that the CSA was specifically created to draft regulations, disseminate regulations, and to certify compliance with regulations.  The CSA was created as a regulatory entity, and that’s why the CSA needs a federal Charter to operate.  If the CSA was a commercial entity, like Shaw Cable or Chrysler or Pepsico for instance, then it wouldn’t need a Charter at all, or an Act of Parliament for that matter. 

If the CSA is entirely regulatory, then they have no business being in business as a business.  So the Minister can’t admit that the CSA is a regulatory entity without admitting that the CSA has gone rogue.  On the other hand, if the CSA were entirely commercial, then they have no more right to wield government power than any of their competitors.  So the Minister can’t admit that the CSA is commercial without impairing the CSA’s Charter.

The bureaucrats at Industry Canada have therefore advised the Minister to smudge it all over;  the CSA is not a regulatory entity but it is not necessarily a commercial entity either.  In the legal parlance this is known as trying to suck and blow at the same time. 

We can work with this.  If the CSA isn’t a regulatory entity then there is no justification for a federal Charter.  On December 2nd, we sent this letter to Industry Canada:

Dear Minister Moore:

On November 28, 2013, you declared to Parliament that the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is “not a regulatory entity.” 

As you know however, the CSA was created as a regulatory entity and on that basis it was granted a Federal Charter.  If the CSA is no longer a regulatory entity, then it no longer requires a Federal Charter to operate.  The CSA may continue under the Canada Business Corporations Act like any other commercial enterprise.

We note that the CSA Federal Charter facilitates a wide range of commercial advantages available only to Charter holders.  My company, P.S. Knight Co. Ltd., is a competitor of the CSA, yet we enjoy none of the commercial benefits afforded by Charter to our competitor. 

Given the Minister’s Parliamentary declaration that the CSA is not a regulatory entity and given that it therefore has no legitimate need for a Federal Charter, we are hereby requesting that Industry Canada immediately act to revoke the CSA Charter or, in the alternative, to immediately furnish P.S. Knight Co. Ltd. with its own Federal Charter, equivalent in rights and responsibilities, in order to level the field.


Gordon Knight