Influence Peddling

September 22nd, 2013

Somebody somewhere in this country is upset with Sweden.  Probably.  I mean, there’s bound to be somebody upset with Sweden.  Let’s call this somebody “Bob.”  So Bob’s upset, perhaps he had a bad experience at Ikea and now he wants Sweden suitably punished.  And Bob is blunt about such things.  He wants Sweden bombed.  Bombed with bombs, actual bombs, by the Canadian Air Force.  So how does one arrange this?

Step one for Bob would be appealing to the Foreign Affairs Department for what would be a notable change in government policies toward Sweden.  His appeal would be sent to the Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, and would likely end up in Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development

There is quite a chasm between respectful diplomacy and lobbing missiles at things.  It’s unlikely that Bob’s innovative approach to furniture returns would be championed by the Standing Committee.  But what if he could stack the committee? 

At the CSA, if you want to change some aspect of electrical law and, like our friend Bob, the folks on the relevant committee aren’t seeing things they way you do, you have the option of purchasing the votes to pass your preferred changes to law.  Seriously.  Voting rights at CSA are purchasable for as little as $2,000.  As with most cases of influence peddling however, the more you pay, the more influence you get.  At CSA, if you pay enough to become a “Level 1 member,” then you are “entitled to 2 votes.”  If you pay double that amount to CSA, then you are “entitled to 4 votes.”  See how this works?  If you’re willing to trade more than $6,000, then you become a “level 3 member” and are “entitled to 8 votes.”

Back to Bob for a moment.  Following CSA’s example, Bob packs a brown envelope with $8,000 and sends it to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Bob would like to purchase some votes for his diplomatic initiative.  This all seems reasonable to Bob since, after all, the CSA Code Committee writes laws, is federally sanctioned, reports to a federal Minister, and is as much a de-facto Parliamentary committee as the Foreign Affairs committee.  How do you suppose Foreign Affairs would respond to Bob?

RestoreCSA suspects that any attempt to influence the votes of the Standing Committee through the payment of money or other value would result in a prolonged discussion with the RCMP.  The entire notion of trading money for influence over the law is incompatible with the most basic tenets of democratic society.

At CSA however, they don’t see things quite like this.  Not only do they trade money for influence, they also restrict public access to the laws which result from these transactions.  If one pays enough money to CSA one can have early access to new laws, but if one doesn’t pay the influence fee one will have delayed access to those laws.  And that’s not all, paying the influence fee also gives companies “access to key standards information” and “quick access to CSA staff” through the use of a “special unlisted telephone number.”  Ordinary people (like you) have to wait in line to know the laws that were passed in this process.

And it gets worse.  The CSA gives “discounts” on “information products” to those who pay them the most money.  The term “information products,” incidentally, means the rule of law.  In other words, the CSA has created tiers of citizens with regard to accessing law; one tier for CSA “supporters” who get the law more quickly and more cheaply than everybody else, and one tier crammed with everybody else who have to wait longer and pay more to CSA for the right to read the law.  The CSA’s tiered citizens approach is a massive affront to the democratic principles of equality before the law and of equal access to the law.

The CSA attitude to the rule of law, that it can be bought and sold and owned and monetized, and their curious conception of ordinary citizens as somehow a lesser strata of society, naturally breeds an entitlement culture within the CSA organization.  This corrupted culture is witnessed in many forms; in the belief that the laws which apply to everybody don’t apply to CSA, that they are deserving of immunities from litigation, or that the people of Canada are such dullards that by merely deleting the evidence of CSA’s activities the public will never find out what they’ve been doing. 

In July of this year the CSA was caught deleting evidence of influence peddling from their website.  In September of this year CSA’s affiliate, the CACN, was caught deleting their website in its entirety.  Their conduct in this regard has been sufficiently egregious as to have generated last week a formal admonition on their responsibilities for records retention.  Their conduct also means that most of the quotations above cannot be linked to the CSA website because the CSA has deleted the online record of these quoted statements.  But we have the records of their statements.  We have all of them. 

The CSA has written our legal team on several occasions to express outrage that RestoreCSA would accuse them of influence peddling.  The trouble for CSA of course, is that our accusations in this regard are actually quotations from CSA’s own website.  And those quotations perfectly align with the definition of influence peddling.  The term is defined as the practice of using one’s influence in government to obtain favours or preferential treatment in exchange for money.  Like Bob’s push for projectile diplomacy, the practice of influence peddling is almost always illegal.

As for their letters of outrage, the CSA is not upset about influence peddling per se, they’ve been doing it for years and to them it seems normal.  The CSA is upset that their conduct is being noted publicly.  While CSA publicly shows a brave and indignant face, RestoreCSA is convinced that, in private, the staff of CSA are increasingly aware of their personal vulnerabilities to prosecution on this and a host of other matters. 

RestoreCSA is committed to the total recovery of the CSA organization.  We will pursue those responsible for the conduct of CSA and will seek to return the CSA to the rule of law.  Canada can once again have a clean, credible and competent electrical standards regulator.