The Full Metcalfe
December 2nd, 2013
In 2010, in a government office at 300 W. Georgia Street in Vancouver, sat Humphrey Appleby. Your correspondent, Gordon Knight, was meeting with Mr. Colin Metcalfe, the Humphrey-like assistant to the President of the Treasury Board. The meeting was unrelated to CSA, we were discussing an aeronautical engineering project and whether the federal government would countersign a construction loan. For clarity, your correspondent isn’t pleased with aerospace subsidies and wasn’t requesting one. Rather, the fact that governments have subsidized everything airborne for decades makes it very difficult for a new engineering company to access private finance, and we were discussing ways of resolving this.
During that meeting Colin Metcalfe made some fascinating claims. For instance, did you know that the Federal Government has never subsidized aerospace? Never, not even during the Second World War. Next, he claimed that all of the funds the Government was giving to our competitors were loans, adding that all of these loans had been repaid in full.
Colin’s claims were indeed impressive, and especially so, given that Industry Canada’s own records show the opposite. Indeed, they show repeated, massive aerospace subsidies of up to $779MM for example, in just one year, and that to just one company. And as for loans, only 4.8% of all “financial assistance” furnished by Government were loans, and just 6.08% of such loans are ever repaid. It is difficult to reconcile Colin’s claim of total repayment with a 94% default rate.
Colin’s claims were so surreal that your correspondent felt it necessary to furnish Colin and his Minister, Stockwell Day, with financial documentation on April 20th, 2010 on the subject of subsidies “in order to be of assistance” to the Minister and his staff.
In 2010 when all this took place, Colin Metcalfe was the Director of Regional Affairs for the Treasury Board. Today, Colin is the Director of Regional Affairs for Industry Canada. Yes, you read that correctly.
Since March 2006, Colin Metcalfe has been the “senior most non-elected political appointment reporting to the Minister Responsible for British Columbia, [the] Hon. James Moore, Minister of Industry.” This is worrying, given his creative and flexible treatment of truth. But it might also explain Industry Canada’s curious responses to RestoreCSA.
You see, Industry Canada is the odd one out. We have positive working relationships throughout Ottawa, in the civil service, in multiple departments, and on both sides of the political isle. Industry Canada however, has sent us nothing but Metcalfe-like responses.
On October 4th for instance, Minister Moore wrote to advise that the CSA does not have a government mandate. In truth, the CSA has more than a mandate, they have an actual Federal Charter passed by an act of Parliament. And its stored on record in the Parliamentary Library.
The Minister also claimed that the CSA “does not have any regulatory role in Canada.” But the CSA Charter mandates the CSA “to prepare and promote” standards for “adoption” by Canadian governments into law, and to “revise, alter and amend” such resulting regulations. The CSA was created by government to develop regulations, to promote regulations, to facilitate the legal authority of regulations, to amend regulations and to replace earlier, spent regulations, to promulgate regulations and to certify compliance with regulations. That, my friends, is the definition of regulatory activity.
The Minister closed by claiming that the CSA “does not report to me as Minister of Industry or to the SCC.” But even the SCC admits that the CSA is reporting to it, the CSA reports “at least every six months.” In fact, the regulations at the SCC that require the CSA to report every six months were mandated by, guess who, Industry Canada.
What about the CSA reporting to the Minister? Well, according to James Flaherty, the Minister of Finance, and the Department of Finance Canada, any matter concerning the CSA “falls more directly within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Industry, the Honourable James Moore.” We have similar confirmations from the President of the Treasury Board, the office of the Minister of Employment and Social Development, Jason Kenney, the Canada Revenue Agency, the R.C.M.P., the Auditor General’s Office, the Library of Parliament, and a medley of Members of Parliament, past and current. Even more embarrassing for Minister Moore, we have also been formally advised by two different sections of his own Department that the CSA reports to him.
The need for a cleanup at CSA is accepted by everyone in Ottawa, provided they have no responsibility to conduct the cleaning. There’s a political calculation visible at Industry Canada. Given the incestuous relationship between Industry Canada, the CSA and the SCC, there is likely a lot more dirt than we know, and therefore a lot of incentive to block a cleanup. Right now, the civil service at Industry Canada is gambling that the liability cost of a cleanup is greater than the political fallout from letting the corruption continue. Its a fool’s gamble. The private club can only withstand the weight of political interests for a short time further.
Each new divulgement is like a line on a page, inconsequential of itself, yet as the lines accumulate a worrying picture begins to emerge. And this picture features Ash Sahi and John Walters, Patti Ensor and Lisa Ebberman, and France Pegeot and now Colin Metcalfe. People stare at pictures, and they’ll stare at this one.
With Colin Metcalfe at Industry Canada there’s a backstory that will be front and centre fairly soon and it hits the whole Dominion.
On July 31st 2010, your correspondent reported to a shareholder on our discussions with government. “The call was not heated, but it was as they say ‘blunt, bordering on direct’.” This time things are heating up for Humphrey.