Thursday, November 02, 2017

Media Refused Entrance to Thursday's CSCA Meeting at Denton's Law Firm

          By Chuck Black

A small not-for-profit space focused group with more than its fair share of influence on the August 2017 Space Advisory Board (SAB) report, "Consultations on Canada’s future in space: What we heard," has refused entry to this media organization for an event focused around proposed updates to the Federal Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA).

E-mail ad for the November 2nd, 2017 CSCA monthly meeting. It's worth noting that CSCA executive director Michelle Mendez is also a member of the SAB. Graphic c/o CSCA.

We will acknowledge that lobby groups often hold private meetings to assess legislation and share information. That's just part of the way things work when you're trying to influence Ottawa. Everyone has their secrets.

But this meeting was a little different. CSCA doesn't pitch itself as a lobby group but instead defines itself on the CSCA webpage as "Canada’s national association for the space sector, representing industry, academia, professionals, young entrepreneurs and students." It's kinda hard to represent all those people when you don't want the media to report on what was said.

And here's where the problem lies.

The meeting is advertised as featuring Kelly Anderson, the deputy director of policy and regulatory affairs at Global Affairs Canada, a Federal government department in the larger Foreign Affairs ministry. It promised "clarifications and consultation" into proposed changes to the RSSSA.

It's essentially a Federal government sanctioned meeting being hosted at one of the nation's largest law firms. Discussions on legislation, in order to build consensus and validate the underlying assumptions, should be open to public debate and media coverage is both important and appropriate.

Terse, and rather disappointing since this blog doesn't often get refused admission to industry events. In the last eight years, we've covered the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) the Canadian Space Agency (CSA),  the Canadian Space Society (CSS), the Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC), The Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) and most every other public and private organization listed on our Industry Page. Until 2012 we even covered CSCA events since, at the time editor Chuck Black and author Brian Orlotti were both active on the CSCA. As for next week, this blog will be covering the 2017 "A New Space Age," event, which is being organized by the Economist Magazine in Seattle, WA on November 9th. Graphic c/o author.

This publication has requested clarifications on the changes to legislation from the office of Chrystia Freedland, the minister of Foreign Affairs, the Federal government department which includes Global Affairs Canada. With luck, we should be able to provide an independent assessment of the changes in the RSSSA over the next week or so.

With respect to event admission, we queried several senior partners at Dentons Law LLP, where the event was held, but none would respond on the record.

CSCA executives were also queried and CSCA director, Baron Stuart Crane of Cluny, responded as follows:
Thank you for your email of today’s date. 
The CSCA reserves the right to refuse entry to its events. The Board exercised its discretion in denying you entry to today’s event on the Consultation and Clarification of the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA). 
The Board is not required to provide an explanation for its decision, and accordingly, will not be responding to your request of this morning for the reason you were not permitted entry to the event.  
We acknowledge your involvement in the space commerce sector and respect your right to report on the industry.
We note, however, that in the event that there are unfounded or inaccurate statements that are published, and which are damaging to CSCA, the Board may be forced to take action against you for damages and defamation. 
Govern yourself accordingly.
Certainly we don't want to publish "unfounded" or "inaccurate" statements on this, or on any other topic. However, we will also continue to update this story as new information becomes available.
    Chuck Black.

    Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.


    1. You might want to correct this inaccurate statement: "Chuck Black and author Brian Orlotti were both members of the CSCA board."

      Brian Orlotti was never a board member.

      1. Good morning Marc.

        I'm assuming that you're happy enough with the rest of the article. I agree that Brian Orlotti was a member of the CSCA executive and acted as CSCA Treasurer. but was not on the CSCA board. My apologies for the error.

        It's also worth noting that ex-CSCA executive director Marc Boucher owns, a competitor to the Commercial Space blog. Mr. Boucher remains active in CSCA and is listed on their website as as part of the advisory board.

        Chuck Black

    2. WOW: refusing even to say why the registration was denied? Not what I call open and transparent. It is a suitable response for administrations a bit further south of here. But CSCA? Canadian! Commercial! come on! At least provide a reason for the denial.

    3. Agreed. Here's hoping we find out a little bit more about those changes to the Federal Remote Sensing Space Systems Act before the Trudeau Liberals sign them into law.

      Something smells fishy...


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