Standards for Sale - Part 1

January 14th, 2014

In public the CSA is all about safety, but in private they’re all about money.  According to their public statements, safety is the basis for the CSA’s standards development process, safety is their bottom line.  Inside CSA however, members are reminded that “the bottom line is revenue generation.”

During 2009, an outsider was accidentally invited to attend a closed-door CSA meeting.  And this person took notes.  And we have them.

In opening the meeting, CSA officials reminded the members present that any standard that they wanted could be developed for them and that CSA would sign off on it, provided that they paid money to CSA.  Specifically, the CSA will sell standards for “$120,000 to $250,000” each.  And standards of course, are included in hundreds of Canadian laws.  RestoreCSA readers will recall that CSA also sells votes at legislative committees.  So not only is influence for sale, but whole standards also. 

The CSA official continued; “If companies that are part of CSA offer funding, it becomes possible to go to the government and get more.”  This partly explains CSA’s aggressive lobbying.  A question was then asked about using already existent safety standards from the US.  According to the witness, the CSA official advised that even if safety standards already existed, “every time a foreign standard is sold, the funds go to the foreign organization.”  Safety is secondary at CSA or, to re-quote the CSA official, “the bottom line is revenue generation.”

To recap, companies have to pay CSA to get in the door, then they pay CSA for influence at committees, then they pay CSA to develop standards to their liking, then these firms can leverage the new standards to their commercial benefit.

Halfway through the meeting, a City of Toronto capital projects employee and CSA member joined the proceedings.  He alerted the Vice-Chair that the outsider who had been invited to attend “had been critical” of the CSA in the past.  On the basis of having been “critical” of the CSA, the Vice-Chair asked the witness to step out of the meeting, “was taken to another room and [was] told that I was there illegally and would be contacted by their lawyers.”

No lawsuit was forthcoming.  Perhaps the fact that the outsider had been invited to the meeting made it more difficult to complain about their presence.  This outsider was witness to a half-day’s worth of CSA conduct and found that the reality of CSA conduct is dramatically different from CSA’s statements about their conduct.

Safety standards should be about safety, not money.  No legislative committee should be selling influence over Canadian law, no legal statutes should be drafted on contract for private purposes, and no private company should own public law.  These are foundational principles of democracy, they ought to be standard practice in Canada.

RestoreCSA will shortly publish further excerpts from the record and will outline the commercial connections related to that meeting.