Public Complaints about CSA

March 15th, 2016

We recently filed an Access to Information request with Industry Canada.  It wasn’t our first such filing, but this one sought copies of complaints about the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).  It turns out there are quite a few of them.

Since RestoreCSA started exposing the conduct of CSA back in 2013, RestoreCSA readers have been sending a steady stream of letters to Industry Canada and to the Minister of Industry.  The tenor of these letters has been pretty consistent.

For example; “I am an electrical engineer, so I have some personal stake in the conflict between the CSA and those represented by the RestoreCSA.com.  I am not a part of either group, but I have been reading the postings from RestoreCSA, and as a professional, and if they have their facts straight, there is cause for concern.”

Of course, Industry Canada didn’t think there was cause for concern.  They responded as follows;

“Dear Sir;  It is important to note that the CSA has no regulatory authority or legislative role in Canada [and] the act of referencing standards in federal legislation does not impact the ownership of federal laws, nor does it impact the rights of the SDO that developed the voluntary Canadian standard.”

That’s a contradiction, by the way.  The alleged “rights” of CSA are rights of ownership of legislation, the very thing that wasn’t impacted by referencing CSA standards in legislation.  Regardless, Industry Canada drafted its official response to CSA complaints, as far as they were concerned the drafting of a problem-ducking letter had sorted the problem out.  They would use this letter repeatedly for the next few years.

And they had no lack of use for the letter, the complaints kept coming.

“The public believes, perhaps falsely, that the CSA has some authority, and safeguards their interests.  If that is not the case, then perhaps it is time for you, or someone with your authority to intervene and set the record straight.  After all, is that not the job to which you were elected?”

Regarding this website, said one complainant; “To whom would you suggest that they direct their line of inquiry?  If a non-judicial body is claiming judicial authority, how does one break the impasse if no one can or will address the issue?”

To this, Industry Canada responded substantively, saying;  “Dear Sir; It is important to note that the CSA has no regulatory authority or legislative role in Canada [and] the act of referencing standards in federal legislation does not impact the ownership of federal laws, nor does it impact the rights of the SDO that developed the voluntary Canadian standard.”

Some letters were directed to James Moore, the Industry Minister at the time;  “Over the past several months, I have been following stories about serious management, structural, and procedural problems at the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).  […] I have not heard one expression from you about the evidence that CSA regularly falsifies documents and regularly bills clients outrageous amounts for testing that it does not perform.  I ask you to look immediately into these matters and to take whatever actions are necessary to get this out-of-control regulatory body back into its intended role; this includes firing those involved in unethical practices and those who tolerated the corruption.”

The Minister responded immediately.  “Dear Sir,” he said, “It is important to note that the CSA has no regulatory authority or legislative role in Canada and the act of referencing standards…….”

James Moore’s non-answers weren’t very satisfying, and a number of you said so.

“Dear Minister, Answer the question.  You cannot pretend no problem exists, you have been made aware, either act or resign.  Failure to clean this cesspool out means you are complicit.”

“As a Journeyman Electrician, I have been on the receiving end of this Government sanctioned Extortion for over 20 years.  Now their overreach is exposed for all to see.”

“[Do] we have political oversight in Canada?  Or are we now officially a Kleptocracy?”

In response, the Minister wrote; “Dear Sir, It is important to note that the CSA has no regulatory authority or legislative role in Canada…..”

Some people noted in their letters that what CSA is charging people to access is actually Federal law.  They noted that demanding public compliance with any law presupposes public access to that law.

“I would like to ask how an organization […] is allowed to have a claimed copyright on what is essentially a federally mandated guideline used to establish local code requirements.”

“As a current pilot, I am also mandated to abide by the Canadian Aviation Regulations as provided by Transport Canada.  I can access all of this information on-line free of charge.  There are also a multitude of private training organizations which then publish various guidelines and training material based off of these regulations.  Perhaps there is an issue with profit motivation by the CSA after all?”

Industry Canada issued their standard response that no contradiction exists between public ownership of law and CSA’s private ownership of the law.  How helpful.  Then they included their personalized response to the complainant.  Have you memorized the line by now?  “Dear Sir, It is important ton note that CSA has no regulatory authority or legislative role….”

Some writers were blunt, bordering on direct.

“The accountability of the CSA up to this point is appalling.  [The CSA] is not only corrupt but also incompetent on many levels.  I am truly baffled with the response so far from James Moore and the current Government on this issue.”

“It is with great disappointment that I have learned of your disregard for the concerns of the RestoreCSA group and their pertinent questions about the CSA.  When one digs just a little bit into the goings on within the CSA, it is obvious that this group has gone well beyond its mandate and appears to be nothing more than a money making operation.”

“[The CSA] puts people’s lives at risk and is a serious impediment to business.  I implore you to start taking this matter seriously before someone gets killed.”

And in response?  “Dear Sir, It is important to note that CSA has no regulatory authority or legislative role…”

Other writers hinted at political consequences of ignoring corruption.

As one letter put it; “I’m a usually reliable Conservative voter in [redacted].  I’m getting quite angry and very tired of your relentless stonewalling of questions about the CSA and its longstanding, well-documented fraudulent practices”.

You’ll note that the Conservative Government was not re-elected.  One wonders if the diligence and professionalism they displayed in dealing with CSA was standard operating procedure throughout their Administration.  If so, it might explain their boring campaign and our boredom with them.

“There is now ample evidence to show that the CSA is a criminal organization that is extorting mandatory over-payments for its certifications.”

“If their extortion were perpetrated by my company, we’d have the RCMP fraud squad up our various bodily orifices with billy clubs, handcuffs and tasers.”

Indeed!  And a lot of people knew it too.  We received over two-hundred pages of CSA complaints submitted to Industry Canada.

“You, your department, and your government remain willfully blind to this evidence, and are now demonstrably supporting their criminality by not prosecuting them.”

“Wake up Sir, and immediately disentangle Canadian industry from our mandatory dependence for certification by the persistently fraudulent CSA.”

When the Minister issued his response, did he wake up on the issue?  Well, “Dear Sir,” said the Minister, “It is important to note that CSA has no regulatory authority or legislative role…..”