Monday, April 25, 2011

Garneau on Innovation, Entrepreneurs, Policy, Telecoms & (Perhaps) Space
Liberal candidate Marc Garneau.

Campaigning liberal politician (he's running for re-election in the riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie), Canadian astronaut, the ninth Chancellor of Carleton University and ex-Canadian Space Agency (CSA) president Marc Garneau will be leading the Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 Canadian Advanced Technology Association (CATA) Teleforum conference call focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and public policy.

Canadian space advocates should participate in this conference call.

After all, this is likely the last chance to quiz Garneau on Liberal Party campaign positions relating to space focused activities and whether or not they would ever release the (so far) publicly buried long-term space plan (LTSP) before the upcoming election on Monday, May 2nd, 2011.

As longtime readers of this blog know, the last formal document outlining Canadian space policy was written in 2003.

Titled "The Canadian Space Strategy", it was intended to replace the Canadian Second Long-Term Space Plan (LTSP II) of 1994 (which had last been updated as part of the Performance Report for the Period ending March 31st, 1998).

But the initiatives contained within the 2003 report (which maintained the existing focus on Earth observation, space science, exploration and satellite communication plus placed a renewed emphasis on public relations) were quickly overwhelmed by a series of events including three short-term and interim CSA presidents between 2005 and 2008.

Of course, there were also sovereignty, national security and economic infrastructure issues swirling around the aborted sale of portions of space contractor MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to American-owned Alliant Techsystems (ATK) in April 2008, which further encouraged the push towards a new LTSP.

Industry leaders had anticipated that when Steve MacLean became head of the CSA in September 2008 an updated LTSP would be available within a few months.

That never happened.

After a decent interval, during which a variety of space industry experts came out in favor of the LTSP, it simply dropped from site into that big bureaucratic filing cabinet in the sky, never be seen again.

Those coming out in favor of a revised space policy document included the president of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (as per my April 25the, 2010 post "Presidents Choice!"), the president of Com Dev International (as per my June 12th, 2010 post "COMDEV Stock Down: Long Term Space Plan Blamed!") and the President of MDA (as per my March 3rd, 2011 post "Downsizing Announced at MDA Robotics").

At one point the CSA even tried to associate the LTSP with an internal structural reorganization (as per my April 7th, 2010 post "Canadian Long-Term Space Plan Pops Up and Looks Around") but that just made them look silly.

CSA HQ. The John H. Chapman Space Centre in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.
The conservative party eventually promised a second review, covering the entire aerospace industry as outlined in my March 28th, 2011 post "The Difference Between "Aviation" and "Space""), but this seems to have only pushed the development of a useful policy off further into the future.

We shouldn't need to wait so long. This issue should be revisited and we should also take a close look at what the liberal party will commit to in the midst of an election campaign.

Callers for the CATA teleforum will have an opportunity to answer questions and provide guidance on issues of innovation, entrepreneurship and public policy and not just telecommunication issues, which is the generally recognized CATA core constituency or space advocacy, which is what I suggesting we need to ask about.

After all, Garneau is supposed to be a space advocate. Let's see what he has to say.

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