Influencing Governments

June 18th, 2018

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is one of the most prolific lobbyists of the Federal Government. 

The CSA has registered multiple lobbying enterprises, including the Canadian Standards Association, CSA Group (11 registrations for this entity alone), CSA Group Management Corporation, and CSA Group Testing & Certification Inc.  Under the Lobbying Act, each of these entities is listed on the registry separately, so the activities of one entity are not grouped with another, allowing CSA to use multiple entities to lobby the same public office holder multiple times without making all that lobbying too obviously too much lobbying.

Within each entity’s registration there are multiple persons registered over the years to do the actual lobbying.  CSA Group, for example, has registered 8 lobbyists, but when calling themselves the Canadian Standards Association they have another 23 lobbyists registered.  The CSA also registered the “Canadian Standards Association” as a duplicate entry (same name, different registration), containing 103 lobbyist registrations.  Drilling down, we find another 12 internal lobbyists (CSA staff) registered within the lobbying entity registration.

They also contract lobbying firms, like Environics Communications and Global Public Affairs, to do the additional lobbying that CSA’s lobbyists couldn’t do for lack of time or matching footwear. 

And what is CSA lobbying for?

Well, we’ve reported on this previously.  The CSA uses its influence elsewhere in the civil service to protect itself from legal consequences, effectively raising CSA above the rule of law.  They most recently lobbied the Standards Council of Canada to look the other way when Federal Court Ruled CSA in violation of Canada’s Public Review laws.

Covering their backsides is the biggest driver, but after that CSA’s lobbying is mostly about money.

For instance, CSA lobbied Ottawa to accept its “proposal for Grant and Contribution agreement pertaining to the provision of project management support activity”.  That’s a funding proposal, folks, they’re after your money.  They then lobbied for “funding for Canadian Standards Association’s faciliation [sic] of Canada’s participation in international standards development at International Organization for Standardization/ Technical Committee 229 and International Electrotechnical Commission/Technical Committee 113 for nanotechnologies, in areas of interest for the specified government institutions”.  Well, party on. 

Then they pursued “funding from Health Canada for the Product Safety Project Committee,” then “funding from Public Services and Procurement Canada,” then they list “ongoing communications with Natural Resources Canada with regard to funding,” and then “Canadian Standards Association has proposed funding needs to Natural Resources Canada.”  And it goes on like this.

Eventually we come to this item, as below.  Read carefully;

“Discussion with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) with regard to the negotiation of funding amounts for a Contribution Agreement between Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and CNSC.  Funding is being provided in respect of the development and maintenance of nuclear standards in the CSA Nuclear Program.”

We covered this too, a few years ago, and the practice is quite illegal.  The CNSC is mandated to draft nuclear standards, not CSA.  Yet CSA has immunities from civil litigation for substandard standards, while the CNSC does not.  So CNSC temporarily seconds their staff to CSA without leaving CNSC offices.  That is, the secondment only exists on paper, the people involved don’t actually go anywhere.  Anyway, with CNSC staff now called CSA staff, they draft the standards as CSA standards.  Then CNSC retrieves its staff from CSA (on paper, again, as nobody went anywhere) and then pays money to CSA to use the nuclear standards that CSA claims to have drafted using CNSC’s staff.  Its like money laundering, just with legislation.  Thanks to CSA’s immunities, the result of all this shuffling is that Canada’s nuclear safety laws are exempted from normal accountabilities in civil litigation.

But back to money matters….

With the laundry done, CSA approached the Federal Government and “discussed possible funding for a new standard on cisterns,” and then “discussions held with Natural Resources Canada-CANMET regarding funding,” then “email and phone discussions with a representative of CanmetENERGY (Natural Resources Canada) regarding financial support,” then “email and oral communications regarding funding in connection with the reaffirmation of…”  And so on.

This scale of lobbying is a barrage, and its effective.

In the 2016-17 year, CSA convinced the civil service in 61 different government entities to give a total of $4,655,674 of taxpayer’s money to CSA for various of their stimulating projects.

Just about every Federal Institution is lobbied by CSA, they know the civil service players personally, their influence with their civil service colleagues is very deep indeed.  The CSA lobbies the PMO, the House of Commons, and nearly every Department across the Country, including the Department of Justice. 

The Federal Court of Appeal has not released its Ruling on private ownership of legislation.  We have no information of anything nefarious underway, no indication of discrete discussions or word of carefully couriered expressions of Government concern quietly working their way into the Courts Administration.  We’ve heard nothing yet of anything of the sort.

Yet we have experience of exactly this sort of sordid thing.  This Ruling has taken longer than we thought and, given CSA’s Government influence, I’ll admit to growing worry about it.