Thursday, October 18, 2018

Many of the Most Senior of the Usual Suspects Were in Ottawa Discussing Space, But Not the Innovation Minister

          By Chuck Black

Many of the most senior of the "usual suspects" involved in Canada's space industry were in Ottawa on October 16th, attending the "Ready for Launch: Preparing Canada for a Future in Space," conference organized by the Calgary AB based Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI).

Panel discussion with (from left to right) CGAI moderator Mike Day, former CSA president "Mac" Evans, SAB chair Lucie Stojak, former CSA astronaut Robert Thirsk and current CSA president Sylvain Laporte. Photo c/o @LeslieSwartman.

As outlined first in the September 18th, 2018 post, "Colorado Based Maxar/MDA Asking for $1-2Bln to Build Another Canadarm for the US LOP-G," it was also a keynote event for the Brampton ON based MDA Space Missions (a subsidiary of Westminster, CO based Maxar Technologies) and its Don't Let Go Canada advocacy campaign to lobby the Federal Liberal government to fund a new, "third generation" Canadarm for the US Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (Lunar Gateway).

Tweet c/o #CGAIspace.
Participants included: 
  • Federal Transport Minister (and former astronaut) Marc Garneau.
  • Former CSA astronaut Robert Thirsk.
  • Current CSA president Sylvain Laporte.
  • MDA group president Mike Greenley.
  • Magellan Aerospace division manager of defence and space products David O’Connor plus quite a number of others.
Even CBC science journalist Bob MacDonald dropped in for a bit to have a "fireside chat" on the new space age with Kenneth Hodgkins, the director for the Office of Space and Advanced Technology at the US Department of State.

Hodgkins is also listed as speaker at the Washington DC based Wilson Institute and many of the speakers at the October 16th event in Canada were previously highlighted at a September 7th, 2018 event in Washington DC titled "Over the Horizon: A New Era for Canada-U.S. Space Cooperation?" which covered much the same territory and was held through the Wilson Centre.

According to its website, the Wilson Centre:
...chartered by Congress as the living memorial to President Woodrow Wilson, is the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum. In tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue, the Center informs actionable ideas for Congress, the administration, and the broader policy community.
Kenneth Hodgkins in conversation with Bob McDonald in Ottawa on October 16th, 2018. Photo c/o @CAGlobalAffairs.

Unfortunately, Federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains wasn't in attendance. Bains is one of the most powerful Liberal ministers in the current government and the one directly responsible for the portfolio which includes both the CSA and science spending. He's also the one person in the Federal government most able to generate funding for the various programs which were discussed at the event.

In his place was Denis Bourque the Director of Policy for Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada, who can be expected to report back to Minister Bains on the day's activities.

Prashant Shukle, the Director General of Resources for Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) was also in attendance. As outlined in the June 8th, 2018 post, "NRCan Explores Space Mining," there have been some mid-level space focused initiatives coming out of that department recently.

For those looking to learn more, videos of some of the discussions and a few of the more interesting conversations from the event are on twitter under the #CGAIspace hashtag
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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