How the Conservatives Helped Us (or didn’t) Part II
May 8th, 2016
Read Part I here.
We met David Sweet, M.P. in the summer of 2013. He told us that he was appalled by the unethical conduct of CSA and would work with us on several specific measures to recover CSA as a regulator in the public interest. As a Conservative MP, David Sweet chaired the Industry Committee, one of the Parliamentary bodies capable of making changes to the CSA. David was one of the first MPs to commit to correcting CSA abuses. But that was in the summer.
“Today we have before us Mr. Wayne Edwards, from the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network. From the Canadian Standards Association we have before us Katalin Molnar, Manager, Global Intellectual Property Protection.” This is how David Sweet opened the November 6th, 2013 meeting of the Industry Committee.
RestoreCSA readers will recall that the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN) is really a front for the CSA. You can’t verify that now of course, because right after our article about them, the CACN deleted the evidence of CSA’s activities from their website. We documented that too. But back to the Committee.
There were four witnesses at the Nov. 6th Committee meeting and the CSA / CACN were two of them. Mathematically then, fifty percent of the witnesses at Committee were representing the same interests on counterfeiting issues. That’s a problem already.
As we reported in August 2013, the CSA had recently been caught selling counterfeit safety certifications. In fact, CSA had been selling counterfeit certifications for eight years before being caught in 2010. The Anti-Counterfeiting Network was founded by CSA in 2006, at the height of their own counterfeiting operations.
In other words, one of Canada’s most prolific counterfeiters was invited to contribute to Canada’s anti-counterfeiting legislation.
So what was their contribution? Well, the CACN’s Wayne Edwards opened by reminding the Committee that his organization works “to fight against product counterfeiting” and has done “a lot of work […] on safety as it relates to counterfeit products that don’t make the mark or have not been tested by” the CSA.
Mr. Edwards declined to admit that the CSA is on the CACN’s board of directors, making the CACN’s claim to fight counterfeiting a bit inconsistent.
“We are concerned that the proposed border provisions will not provide an effective means for stopping counterfeit products at the border.” Indeed, the CSA’s counterfeit products were manufactured internationally and none of them were stopped at the border. Mr. Edwards declined to cite this example.
Then he spoke about seizing counterfeit products. “Further, the provisions dealing with requests for assistance by rights holders provide for seizure and forfeiture only through civil court proceedings commenced by rights holders, and we see some issues with that.” Remember his definitions; the “rights holder” is his boss, the CSA. So he was arguing for the power to “seize” other people’s property without having to bother with legal processes.
Recall that the CSA was recently granted ownership of Canada’s electrical laws. In all, the CSA claims to “own” more than 630 public laws. By the Federal Court’s recent Ruling, the CSA is the rights holder of these laws. On this basis, CSA has sued PS Knight Co, because our books offer instruction on what is now considered private law. If CSA was able to “seize” other people’s property without legal process, they could seize all of the products from their competitors’ inventories without warning, without due process, and without compensation. And the really galling part? The CSA has been granted immunities from civil litigation, so the victims of any such seizure may be refused the right to defend themselves against CSA.
It starts to sound awfully self-serving, doesn’t it? It was an attempt to influence Parliament to grant sweeping powers to the CSA. How much power?
Well, as Mr. Edwards boasted, “we spend some time training border officers and we work with the RCMP to train them as well.” In fact, the CSA / CACN trained 50 guards during 2012 alone. Remember that the CACN is “driven” by the CSA. So the CSA ran an eight year program of counterfeit imports into Canada while simultaneously training law enforcement on how to “identify what might be an inappropriate product coming into our country.” It does have a circular feel to it. The CSA wants to decide what’s a counterfeit product, to train the guards who spot the products, to seize the products themselves without due process, they want immunity from legal accountability for their actions, and they want to get off scot-free when caught doing their own counterfeiting. The cop and the criminal, at the same time.
Mr. Edwards continued; “We would ask, where are the perpetrators?” They’re on your board, Sir. “They seem to be getting off scot-free .” Yes, indeed they do. Mr. Edwards’ organization has never been called to account for its role in counterfeiting and neither, incidentally, has the CSA.
Then David Sweet invited Ms Molnar to make CSA’s second contribution to Committee. According to her, products bearing counterfeit CSA marks put “public safety at risk and [pose] a very real threat to the acceptance of legitimate marks.” Like her CSA / CACN cohort, Ms Molnar declined to mention that the CSA was an eight year counterfeiter of these same marks.
“Products bearing counterfeit certification marks have not been put through the certification process.” She’s right about this, but none of CSA’s counterfeit products were put through the process either. “No samples have been tested to meet the minimum requirements, and no audits have been performed on the manufacturer.” Again, CSA’s counterfeit products didn’t meet the minimums and they weren’t auditing the manufacturers. What she was complaining about is what her agency was caught doing.
The consequences are hardly insignificant. Several companies have been bankrupted as a result of CSA’s counterfeiting activities, livelihoods have been ruined and millions of dollars of family investment has been destroyed by CSA.
The Industry Committee was running out of time and David Sweet, as Chairman, was taking flak for trying to hold to schedule. After a small protest by MP’s for his pushing, the Chair commented that the protest “was enough of a squeak that its damaging my integrity already.”
Speaking of integrity, David was advised on several occasions, and as early as June 11th 2013, of CSA’s counterfeiting activities. Yet he knowingly invited the counterfeiters to contribute to Canada’s anti-counterfeiting laws. He also refused to follow through on the commitments he made to us on RestoreCSA initiatives. And he waited until Nov. 5th 2013 to call us to advise that he wasn’t going to do any of the things that he had promised to do. Friends, November 5th was the day before the above noted Committee meeting. David’s call was so late as to ensure that RestoreCSA would not have time to intervene in Committee. It was also late enough in the fall of that year to ensure that our reform agenda, the process that David had committed to, couldn’t be raised in the fall session of Parliament.
David Sweet was once the CEO of Promise Keepers Canada. Regardless of the policies of Promise Keepers, implicit in their name is the claim to trustworthiness. This is difficult, because of all of the MPs that were working on the CSA file, David was the first to reverse his position and break his promise to us.
Back in the summer, during our telephone discussion on strategies for cleaning up the CSA, David made it clear that he was working with us in this effort. His closing words in that call still echo in my mind, a pale reminder of integrity fading away; “Trust me,” he said, “just trust me.”