Letters to the Government on the Lack of Letters from the Government

April 16th, 2014

We have been sending a mass of mail to the Departments and Ministers of the Federal Government.  Sometimes we receive cordial, noncommittal replies, nothing genuinely helpful, but rather filled with verbiage as vagueness, whose tenor would work just as well for responses to milk marketing board inquiries. 

And we’ve mailed a lot of mail.  RestoreCSA readers will note that we haven’t mentioned our letters much, we’ve only posted the odd letter for purposes of update or by request of a friendly politician.  But rest assured what’s posted online is the tip of the iceberg, we’re mailing enough to make Canada Post profitable.

Our letters about the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) are usually quite specific, they ask specific questions and request specific action.  For the Government, responding to these kinds of letters is more difficult, the usual glib non-replies don’t work as well.

As a result, the more specific our inquiries get, the less likely we are to receive a response, much less an actual answer to the question that we asked.

In the spirit of persistence (and annoyance), we recently sent another series of letters to the Federal Government reminding them of the inquiries that we made previously, which they have declined thus far to respond to.

In this batch, we have written to remind the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister that we are still awaiting their decision to either release the Department of Justice study on CSA’s potential violations of the Criminal Code or, failing that, to release the Legal Opinion on the same matter which we requested in August of last year. 

We also reminded the Minister of Industry of our request for Departmental clarification on the legal status of Canada’s electrical laws, with particular emphasis on the defiant letters received from provincial governments as they responded to the Minister’s peculiar claim in November of last year that electrical laws don’t exist in Canada.  We further reminded the Minister of our inquiry about whether the Prime Minister was mistaken when he stated, contrary to the Minister’s assertion, that the CSA is within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Industry. 

While frolicking in the festival of letter writing, we also wrote to Minister Moore to request an update on our 700 Mhz broadband allocation.  Somehow I suspect that he’s not pleased with all of this.

Presumably, at some point Mister Moore will note that we’re not going away.  He’d do well to question whether all of his CSA-centric rule bending and looking the other way is really a politically good idea in an election year.

One thing is sure though, that Mister Moore has demonstrated remarkable talent for turning staunch supporters into ardent adversaries. 

Specimen letter enclosed below for reference (and entertainment):

Office of the Prime Minister of Canada
C/o House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, ON K1A0A6

Attn: Ray Novak
Chief of Staff

Dear Mr. Novak:

Re: Release of Department of Justice Legal Opinion on Section 46 of the Criminal Code

On August 15th of last year, the Department of Justice was asked to furnish a Legal Opinion on the applicability of Section 46 of the Criminal Code to the practice of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) of selling influence and control over Canadian laws and legislative processes to foreign powers, citizens, and corporations without authorization by the Department of Foreign Affairs to conduct diplomatic activity on behalf of the Canadian Government. 

In November, the Department of Justice advised that they are not mandated to release Legal Opinions to the general public.  Similarly, the Department proactively advised that “neither department officials nor members of his staff are in a position to assist you.” 

We note that the Department of Justice studied the matter for eleven weeks prior to refusing to release their results.  We further note that during this same period of study, the Department of Justice was preparing to transfer a member of the Board of Directors of the CSA, a Ms France Pegeot, to one of the most senior civil service positions within that Department.  Her transfer was completed within a month of the Department’s refusal to release.

On December 16th of last year, we requested that the Prime Minister’s Office “facilitate the immediate release of the Department of Justice study on the applicability of Section 46 of the Criminal Code to the subject activities of the CSA or, in the alternative, to release the Legal Opinion originally requested on August 15th[of last year].”

On January 21st of this year, we wrote to you again on this same matter, making the same request. 

To date, we have received no response from your Office or commitment to release the Departmental study or the Legal Opinion originally as requested eight months ago.

We respectfully remind you of your Government’s law and order mandate and its 2011 commitment to Open Government.  We further respectfully remind your Office of the significance of Section 46 violations in the context of growing international and digital espionage. 

We await your urgent response to our December 16th inquiry (as enclosed for reference).

Best regards,

Gordon Knight

CC: Hon. James Moore