Sunday, January 18, 2015

Is Jay Aspin Canada's First "Real" Space Politician?

          by Chuck Black

Canada's most space industry friendly politician might no longer be the Liberal member of parliament (MP) for Westmount - Ville-Marie. At least that's the impression Conservative MP Jay Aspin is attempting to convey as he winds up his first tour as chair of the newly created parliamentary "space caucus."

Kirkland Lake Mayor Bill Enouy and Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Jay Aspin shoveling. As outlined in the December 12th, 2012 article, "Sod turned for new $35 million waste water plant," the two were breaking ground for a new $35 million waste water treatment facility which subsequently opened for business in October 2014. Photo c/o

As outlined in the January 17th, 2015 article, "Aspin leads space caucus tour," the ambitious Federal representative for the riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming, (who also acts as vice-chair of the parliamentary aerospace caucus) led a tour of caucus members to Cambridge, ON based Com Dev International and the Brampton, ON robotics and automation division of Richmond, BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) on Friday.

The purpose of the Space Caucus is to give parliamentarians a first-hand appreciation of Canada’s space industry,” said Aspin.

As outlined in the November 30th, 2014 post, "Ambitious MP Announces Canadian "Space Caucus" Focused on the Economics and Business of Space," the space caucus is just one of a series of activities which Aspin hopes will cement his hold on the riding in time for the upcoming Federal election, later on this year.

Aspin initially finished just 14 votes ahead of Liberal incumbent Anthony Rota in the 2011 election, which triggered an automatic judicial recount but eventually confirmed his tight 18 vote final victory.

It's even possible that Aspin might not be just blowing in the wind when it comes to making promises to the space industry.

As outlined in the June 30th, 2014 post, "Canadore College Testing New European Space Plane Design," Aspin helped organize the November 2013 North Bay Aerospace Forum, which was attended by many of the world's aerospace heavyweights. These included Boeing, Bombardier, Dassault, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt & Whitney. The meeting led directly to a contract to perform drop testing of a European designed suborbital space plane at the Jack Garland Airport in North Bay.

More recently, as outlined in the January 13th, 2015 article, "Funds available for collaborative aerospace projects," Aspin participated in a session at Canadore College, along with North Bay Mayor Al McDonald and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) director of business development Richard Worsfold.

The talk focused on the recently-created Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC), which has about $4Mln CDN in available funding and will soon begin receiving proposals for collaborative research and technology development projects.

Which is certainly more than Liberal MP Marc Garneau has been able to accomplish for the Canadian space industry over the last little while. But is Aspin simply the newest "flavor of the month" for the Canadian space industry? Or is he in the midst of becoming a player?

That's likely something which will only become apparent after the next Federal election. Stay tuned. 

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