Monday, July 22, 2013

Whatever Happened to the National Aerospace and Defence Framework?

The Industry Canada website at where the 2005 National Aerospace and Defence Strategic Framework can still be accessed.

Seven years before the November 2012 Aerospace Review, led by David Emerson, presented its findings to then Industry Minister Christian Paradis, another review with much the same mandate also attempted to chart the future of Canadian aerospace.

It failed, but at least two of the senior participants in the earlier process surfaced again as senior contributors to the 2012 review.
A slightly younger David Emerson in 2005, when he was the federal Industry Minister in the Paul Martin government.

And while there is certainly nothing wrong with knowledgeable public policy makers continuing to contribute to important areas where they possess acknowledged expertise, the failure of the 2005 initiative is a reminder that these sorts of things really only move forward with active and ongoing public participation, no matter what any particular mandarin might mandate.

Originally released under the short lived Paul Martin minority liberal government in November, 2005 and titled "The National Aerospace and Defence Strategic Framework," the fifty-nine page document was at the time described as "a 20-year vision aimed at helping leaders in the aerospace, defence and space sectors identify where and how they can be globally competitive."

The document came out of something called the Canadian Aerospace Partnership (CAP), publicly unveiled in April 2005 as a "private/ public sector partnership" to bring together industry, government, academia, and labour representatives.

As outlined in the April 19th, 2005 press release "Canadian Aerospace Partnership Begins Work Toward National Aerospace Competitive Strategy" CAP membership included the federal Minister of Industry along with provincial ministers responsible for industry and economic development from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and a variety of others. 
Dave Caddy speaking at the 2012 Innovation Nation Robotics Competition.

Participants included the then CAP co-chair (and MacDonald Dettwiler VP) Dave Caddy, who remained involved in the process seven years later as the chair of the Emerson Space Working Group Report and David Emerson (who was then the Industry Minister in the Paul Martin liberal minority government). Emerson even contributed an introduction to the 2005 document, where he stated that that it would:
... provide the basis for the continuing development of federal aerospace and defence industrial policy (plus provide) the foundation for continued collaboration between industry stakeholders to maintain Canada’s role as a leading player in the global aerospace and defence industry...
Of course, the the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) was also heavily involved with both reports as befitting its mandate as the "national organization that promotes and facilitates Canadian competitiveness in the global aerospace industry" as outlined on the AIAC website.
Then CSA president Marc Garneau in 2004.

Unfortunately, the final report, as outlined in the November 25th, 2005 Defense Industry Daily article "Canada Unveils National Aerospace Industry Strategy" was almost immediately superseded by events.

For example, the 2005 report doesn't talk much about the space component of the aerospace industry, which was unfortunate since the then Canadian Space Agency (CSA) president Marc Garneau was just about to resign to run for public office as a member of the Liberal party. He'd be replaced by two short term "acting" presidents (Carole Lacombe and Guy Bujold) and ex-Telesat president Larry Boisvert who, as outlined in the September 25th, 2010 blog post "Who Was Larry Boisvert," resigned as a direct result of the January 2008 MDA announcement that it was selling it's space focused business to US firm Alliant Techsystems (ATK).

That sale was eventually blocked by the Canadian government and led directly to the current confusion in the Canadian space industry, which flowed directly into the 2012 Emerson Report and an entire second volume focused on "Reaching Higher: Canada's Interests and Future in Space."

Here's hoping that the 2012 report, especially that second volume, doesn't also end up being superseded by events.

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