Health Canada’s Conflicting Statements

June 7th, 2015

I was in high school in 1989.  My friends all had Sun Ice Jackets.  We had long(ish) hair, tight jeans and, in our minds anyway, we were the coolest people on the planet.

One day we were called to the school’s auditorium to hear a guest speaker.  He was a tall, gangly sort of fellow, nice enough and he spoke well.  He wore a denim shirt and big glasses, had a nasally voice and gesticulated peculiarly.  His name was Preston Manning.

I can’t recall a single thing he said that day but within a couple of years I had paid for, and was issued, a membership card of the Reform Party of Canada.  The card was just paper, no lamination.  Reformers were cheap.

Over the next fifteen years, I served on constituency boards of directors, campaign executives, I staffed conventions and fundraisers and attended seemingly innumerable policy development meetings.  The party even sent me south to the Leadership Institute, this was before the Conservatives built their campaign training program.  I was about as core a conservative as the movement ever had.

The Conservatives took power in 2006 in the wake of the adscam corruption scandal.  The Tories, we were told, would clean things up. 

In 2012, six years into the Harper Administration, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), an Agency of Industry Canada, launched a lawsuit against my company on the argument that the citizens of Canada have no right to know the laws that apply to them without paying an access fee to CSA.

Well, that sounded perfectly ridiculous on our side, and we thought it a quick fix, what with CSA reporting to a Conservative Government so dedicated to cleaning out this sort of thing.  What we found however, was that the Conservative Government is only dedicated to the notion of clean government, not the practice of it.

We secured a meeting with the office of Jason Kenny, Harper’s political guru in Alberta.  As soon as Kenny’s office learned that the meeting was to discuss cleaning up the CSA they cancelled the meeting.  Kenny’s office has been refusing to meet or even receipt CSA information throughout the three years since then.

We requested a meeting with Maxime Bernier, the Minister for Small Business.  After all, ours was a small business.  Bernier’s EA was awfully polite, genuinely the nicest EA on the Hill in our experience, but niceness is cheap like Reform, actually scheduling a meeting was more expensive than the Minister was willing to commit to.

The Department of Justice refused to respond to any inquires about CSA, apparently concerned that CSA’s admitted furnishing of influence over domestic law to foreign entities might require some sort of Department mandated clean-up.

The Minister responsible for CSA, James Moore, can’t even bring himself to admit that his Ministry is responsible at all.  That’s awkward, given that even his Cabinet colleagues have confirmed that Moore is, indeed, the Minister responsible.

And on it went, for months.  All the while, Harper was busy making speeches, calling for the end of the “entitled classes”, the “bureaucratic elites” and the “private clubs of Ottawa’s civil servants.”  Conservative MP’s flyers lauded their Government’s fight against CSA-style bureaucratic empire building.  The Conservative Government is apparently the party of clean government, as opposed to the unreformed Adscam Liberals.

The trouble of course, is that every time we approached this clean Government we ran into walls of dirt.  The CSA was outed for counterfeiting and the Government did nothing.  The CSA was caught falsifying records, and the Government did nothing.  The CSA broke numerous Federal laws on public review, public reporting and accreditation and the Government did nothing.  The CSA was outed in Parliament for claiming to privately own the law and James Moore, the Minister responsible, actually responded by legitimizing private laws in Canada.

Is that a pattern yet?

Consider that we asked the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to enforce its Code of Ethics with respect to the double-dipping civil servant, and CSA board member, France Pegeot.  The DFO said it saw no conflict.  But according to its Code, there were dozens of them. 

Then we asked the Treasury Secretariat to enforce the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector on the same issue.  The Secretariat is, after all, the entity responsible for that Code’s enforcement.  And it is, just curiously not in this case.  The Treasury Secretariat responded that they have no authority over the Code, even though its their Code and by law they’re responsible for enforcement.  They just won’t enforce it.

And one could go on but readers likely get the idea.  This Government has resolved to let the corruption continue.  And that brings us to the latest silliness;  Health Canada.

In 2014 we became aware that medical equipment in Canada must, by Federal law, be certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).  This was worrying, as by then we were already aware that CSA had been falsifying safety certifications, issuing certifications to non-compliant equipment, and selling both blank and counterfeit certifications to manufacturers.  Further, the CSA had already stated in court testimony that they do not consider themselves responsible for their own conduct and that they believe they have no “duty of care” to the public.

In this context, there was significant risk that the required testing and certification of medical devices had also been falsified by CSA. 

In July of 2014 we alerted Health Canada to the danger.  In July and August of that year we had discussions with the Product Safety Risk Assessment Bureau and delivered to them a sizeable quantity of evidentiary documentation.  We were then advised that Health Canada was initiating an investigation into CSA’s certification program.

On May 12th of this year however, we received a letter from Manitoba’s Minister of Health, the Hon. Sharon Blady.  In this letter, the Minister advised “that Health Canada confirmed that it is not investigating the CSA.” 

That was news to us, so we wrote back to Health Canada;  “We are concerned that Health Canada had assured us that an investigation was underway, yet you have denied the existence of any such investigation to the Government of Manitoba.”  That’s a diplomatic way of asking why they’re saying one thing to one audience and the opposite to another audience.

In this context, we asked them some basic questions:

1. Can you confirm that, as Health Canada affirmed in 2014, it is indeed investigating the CSA’s certification practices?

2. If Health Canada is not investigating CSA’s certification practices, is Health Canada affirming the authenticity and integrity of CSA’s testing and certifications programs with respect to medical equipment?

3. If Health Canada is not investigating CSA and, additionally, is not making any affirmations with regard to CSA certification, then what is Health Canada’s position with respect to the 12 tranches of documentation evidencing CSA’s falsification of safety certifications, as delivered to Health Canada on August 28, 2014?

4. If Health Canada is indeed investigating the CSA’s certification practices, why did it deny this investigation to the Government of Manitoba?

5. If Health Canada is not investigating the CSA, why did it claim to have launched such an investigation to P.S. Knight Co.?

We’ll post a reply if we get one.

The Liberals are pleased to work on the CSA file and collect documents on it, presumably also for campaign purposes.  The NDP are aghast that the Conservatives endorsed the notion of corporations owning public laws merely for having lobbied for them.  Both parties on the left and their Members are, to varying degrees, troubled by the corruption taking place at CSA.  Only the Conservatives are protecting the corruption they were elected to eliminate.

This is all rather galling for a sometime party stalwart.  This type of treatment isn’t what so many of us worked so hard to elect. 

One cannot help but notice that in 2006 a mere $4MM scandal called Adscam pushed the Liberals from power, yet in 2015 a $290MM scandal called CSA is facing the Conservatives.

On January 13th of this year we sent a confidential letter to James Moore, offering to privately meet with him or his officials in order to offer a practicable pathway to recovering the CSA.  We made the offer in response to a private statement Moore had made to a third party in which he’d affected a newfound willingness to address CSA issues.  Five months later PS Knight Co is still suffering the litigation, and we’re still willing to meet, but Moore, like his Government, still hasn’t seen fit to respond.