Fellow Travellers Pt.2
January 21st, 2018
We wrote a lovely letter to the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) on January 2nd. You may recall that letter. Our letter advised them of the Federal Court Ruling against the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), that CSA’s conduct was indeed in violation of Canada’s public review law. The SCC confirmed receipt of our letter on January 5th and, as the authority responsible, they’ve been investigating CSA’s violations ever since.
Our letter surely caused a fair bit of frothing at Industry Canada. Nobody in the civil service wants the CSA cleaned up, its way too convenient to keep things as they profitably are. Yet the Ruling was clear, that CSA is in violation of law.
The big question for the civil service therefore, is how they can make it appear like they’re correcting CSA without, of course, actually doing anything of the sort. They want window dressing.
So why are civil servants so beholden to CSA? Well, we wrote about this some time ago, pointing out that…
“Entities that ensconce their own people inside of government will clearly have more access to government, more influence over government, and more immunities for their actions than anyone else.”
The civil service has been rotating staff in and out of CSA for decades. That’s normal really, as CSA is part of Government. And CSA’s not shy about seducing Government officials.
In example, consider this private email from CSA to Jay Jackson, a Senior Policy Officer at Industry Canada;
“You will see that we are starting with a Carbon Neutral program for buildings and plan to expand to events, organizations etc over time. […] To this end I would like to invite you to share your thoughts on this initiative and participate as a stakeholder”
They’re enticing Government to “participate” in their “expansion”. Alright, let’s try another, this time from 2011, from CSA to Peter Murphy, a Departmental Policy Analyst;
“Your name was forwarded to me by [redact] as a stakeholder who may have an interest in participating in this new CSA consensus committee”.
These are all Government officials, folks. And again, from 2012;
“We are inviting you to join the CSA Technical Committee on Sustainability of Household Appliances…”
The CSA also uses its corporate representatives, those who’ve paid CSA money for their committee seats, to lobby the Government along side them.
From an external email to the Manager of Policy Development at Industry Canada, dated Nov. 26, 2012; “It would be really great if we could have a representative from Industry Canada on the committee and its’ never too late to join!” And another example; ““Would this interest you or anyone else in your shop? They [CSA] would really like someone from IC [Industry Canada] on this group.”
The CSA doesn’t restrict itself to civil servants. No. They also lobby Ministers directly, hoping that these Ministers will influence their civil servants to collude with CSA.
The CSA wrote to the Minister of Industry, Denis Paradis, on Dec. 20, 2012 for instance, asking that he increase Departmental representation on CSA committees. The Minister wrote back, reminding CSA that “indeed, the provincial government co-chair of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial committee of officials… is [already] leading your proposed standards committee.”
Did you note that civil servants are “leading” CSA committees?
Well, you get the idea. There’s an intricate web of relational connections between CSA and their bosses at Industry Canada, and these connections are incessantly milked for money and influence.
Relationships need constant care, and CSA knows it.
Wrote Anne Wilcock, another of CSA’s lobbying committee members; “I understand from [redact] at CSA that you expressed an interest in the CSA Academic Challenge […] I’d like to see the Academic Challenge bigger and better than it was last year!”
This was written to Jay Jackson at Industry Canada. The CSA was trying to secure overt Government participation in, and funding for, its Academic Challenge program.
For those unfamiliar, the CSA’s Academic Challenge is a contest for students to dream up new ways for CSA to take money from taxpayers. I kid you not. “For this years’ challenge,” said Jackson, “we encouraged students to ‘think outside the box’ rather than restrict their projects to any more narrow view of standards. Such thinking should open our eyes to areas that we, as standards professionals, may never even think of!”
You see, CSA has trouble thinking up new excuses for foisting new burdensome regulations, so they ask the students of the Country to think up some new ideas for bureaucratic expansion. This is what they wanted the Government to facilitate. And the civil service was keen on it.
Only a week after receiving CSA’s invite, Jay Jackson wrote that he was pleased to be a judge on the Academic Challenge panel for the next two years. But there was a problem, the civil service is supposed to work in the public interest, not in the interest of expanding corporate activity. Jackson’s problem was an ethics problem. So CSA tapped the shoulder of another of their civil service friends and -presto! Problem solved. Wrote Jackson; “Your letter [on my behalf] made a great deal of difference. I just met with Maryanne and Michael [their ethics officer] and they have approved my participation. […] I am free to join your group.” See? The law doesn’t matter when the people who enforce it are on your side. With all those pesky rules behind him, said Jackson to CSA; “Thanks again for considering me for this, I will try to do you proud!”
Really? The civil service is working at our expense for CSA, to make CSA proud?
Then Jackson tries to get Government to pay his way to CSA’s Annual General Meeting because CSA is, as you know, Government business. He succeeds, the taxpayer will cover his costs. Then CSA congratulates him on getting the Government so heavily involved; “Thank you for all your time and effort!”
Time and effort indeed. After his two-year stint, the CSA wrote again saying; “I would like to thank you for all your time and effort serving as a judge…”
But it was never his time or his effort, he is a civil servant and was colluding with CSA during work hours. As taxpayers, this was our time and our money.
Actually, money is the big priority at CSA, and they’re using their Department contacts to push for more access to Treasury dollars. They’re on record requesting that Federal officials start writing “endorsements” on CSA’s behalf, for each of CSA’s various requests for additional Government funding. And they appreciate these officials’ internal lobbying on their behalf; “Thanking you in advance for your continued support towards the development of these important standards projects”.
Look folks, the civil service is supposed to be impartial, they’re not supposed to be lobbying for anything, much less an illegitimate expansion of commercial activities by a Crown Agency.
Or how about this whopper; “Perhaps the answer - publish the standard, monitor sales and decide at the next review whether or not to renew it”. That’s Industry Canada again. They consider CSA’s revenues as their own civil service interest. They’re also admitting that sales of legislation is the driver on the file. Public safety? Not so much.
This is the CSA reality. The CSA sells influence over legislation to corporations, calling the transaction a “membership” sale, while elsewhere in the civil service, the Departments of Industry and Justice work with CSA to enable the continuance of this revenue stream.
Civil servants are even invited to CSA’s organizational meetings. One such invite, to Jay Jackson and Carmen Cayouette, a Policy Analyst at Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs, went like this; “Will either of you be joining our TC meeting next Tuesday? We will be discussing membership issues in the morning. Throughout the day, I’m sure there will be discussions on new projects coming our way.”
Caught that? The Civil Service is involved in CSA’s “membership issues,” the transactions of dollars for influence over legislation.
Civil Servants are comfortable with CSA conduct because they admit, at least in private, that CSA is part of Government, so the CSA is “one of us.” And in private, they’re blunt about it; “The goal of this report is to provide a set of practical recommendations for effective engagement of CSA with non-government organizations”. See? The CSA is differentiated from non-government bodies.
The volume of correspondence between the various Departments of the Federal Government and CSA is enormous. The CSA is treated, rightly, as a Federal Agency. Civil servants work with, and for, CSA as a matter of course, and of course that’s reasonable, if CSA is part of Government and if they’re working in the public interest. But expansion of their illicit corporate enterprises isn’t in the public interest at all. The CSA can get whatever it wants from Government, whenever it wants it, because CSA is part of it. They are civil servants, they know their colleagues, they work with them, so they know who to call on any problem confronting them.
Years ago, long before the Government launched its litigation against PS Knight Co, I was working on an aerospace engineering project. I had inquired of Industry Canada for regulatory process, as our prototyping was almost through. I went through all the proper channels, the official ones, but in stark contrast with CSA’s connections, in all my efforts and through several months of time, I was never able to connect with the Federal official responsible for starting our regulatory process. In fact, I never learned the person’s name. The project was eventually shelved for lack of movement in Ottawa.
Unlike in the private sector, the CSA can get whatever it wants from Government. To the civil service, the CSA is “one of us.”
So, how do you suppose the civil service will handle CSA’s violation of public review law? Will the Standards Council actually uphold the law in respect of the Court Ruling? Will they really rescind CSA’s accreditation? Or are calls being made, back and forth, fewer emails (they know I track them), and fretting a’plenty? The CSA broke the law because they think themselves above the law; they surely think the law shouldn’t be applied to them now. So, is the civil service working on a way to exempt CSA from yet another law?
Yes folks, there’s a fair bit of frothing in Ottawa. We’ll shortly see their response, as clean or creative.