Monday, November 26, 2018

#DontLetGoCanada Coalition Brings UNIFOR, CATA Alliance and Engineers Canada into its Campaign

          By Chuck Black

The #DontLetGoCanada coalition, smarting over the recent failure of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to publicly convince Federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to announce either funding or support for the "3rd generation Canadarm," has brought several new domestic partners to the forefront of its campaign while moving perhaps its largest (and most divisive) corporate supporter into the background.

Two full page ads, the first from "MDA, A Maxar Company" and the second from the #DontLetGoCanada coalition, which were included in the November 26th, 2018 Hill Times. Both mention the need for a "fully funded space strategy." It's difficult to discuss the #DontLetGo Coalition without at least noting Westminster, CO based Maxar Technologies, which expects its Brampton ON based MDA Space Missions subsidiary to receive the lion's share of any new government funding allocated in this area. As outlined in the September 13th, 2018 post, "Dead Cat Bounce! New Canadian Space "Coalition" Wants Much the Same as Last Time, But With Money" Maxar/MDA is behind most of the funding and strategy formulation the coalition depends upon to get its word out. To be fair to Maxar/MDA, it seems to be currently taking a lower profile in the campaign. Images c/o Hill Times.

The third page of the November 26th, 2018 Hill Times, a twice-weekly newspaper covering Parliament, the government and Canadian politics, contains a full page "open letter" from the #DontLetDoCanada coalition addressed to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bains.

Jim Quick. Photo c/o @JQuickAIAC.
As a one pager, it's mostly an overview of points previously noted, although it does indicate that other nations are supporting the NASA Lunar Gateway, which is where the requested "3rd generation" Canadarm is expected to end-up.

It also calls out the Canadian government to develop a "long-term, fully funded and balanced space strategy," which would include support for the Lunar Gateway, with funding included as part of the upcoming Budget 2019.

The complete document is available online here and it's noteworthy that the open letter was signed by variety of interesting people. They included:
  • Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS Canada) President Roxy Fournier.
  • Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
Of course, Jim Quick is considered to be one of the "usual suspects" in this campaign. As outlined in the October 22nd, 2018 post, "The Difference Between Maxar/ MDA, AIAC and Almost Everyone Else in the #DontLetGoCanada Campaign," Quick and Brampton ON based MDA Group President Mike Greenley co-signed the August 2018 e-mail sent out to executives at 60+ aerospace companies which led to the creation of the #DontLetGoCanada coalition in October 2018.

CATA Alliance CEO Reid. Photo c/o LinkedIn.
But CATA Alliance CEO Reid is a late, but rather interesting addition to the mix. As outlined on the CATA Alliance website:
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance), Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Advocacy Group, crowdsources ideas and guidance from thousands of opt in members in moderated social networks in Canada and key global markets. 
Supported by evidence-based research, CATAAlliance then mobilizes the community behind public policy recommendations designed to boost Canada’s innovation and competitiveness success.
Examples of past CATA Alliance positions would include:
CATA has often developed business focused policies that this blog has found reason to favor, mostly because the policies focus on simplifying the tax code to unleash innovation in the private sector instead of providing lump sum payments to contractors to build fancy, but mostly non-commercial things that the government seems to think it needs.

However, the current CATA Alliance official position on a long-term space plan seems to flat out support large disbursements for a "3rd generation" Canadarm.

That specific position is unusual for CATA. The November 17th, 2018 CATA Alliance press release, "Canada’s future in space is in jeopardy, as country slips to an 18th ranking in space investment," quoted CEO Reid as stating only that:
MDA CEO Greenley. Photo c/o @MGreenley.
Canada has moved from an 8th place ranking in Space spending in 1992 (as a share of GDP) to an 18th place ranking today, thus we are losing out on the development and sale of space technologies, or missing out on one of the cores to Canada’s future innovation eco-system and competitiveness.  
That downward spiral will accelerate unless we take strong actions to reverse the trend, by developing a long-term, fully-funded space strategy for Canada.  
Also at risk is the potential role that Canada could play in the upcoming flagship Lunar Gateway.
To be fair, the CATA press release also explicitly referenced Brampton ON based MDA Space Missions Group President Mike Greenley, who has gone on record as stating that any Canadian government space plan should reasonably include a $1 - 2Bln CDN Federal contribution to the development of a new Canadarm for the US Lunar Gateway.

As noted previously, Greenley expects most of the funding for any new Canadarm to pour directly into MDA's expansive coffers.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. Private sector space companies should certainly be allowed to solicit new business, although it's interesting to note that Greenley is going out of his way to position MDA as being not the only organization involved in the #DontLetGoCanada campaign. 

He wants to stay out of the limelight at this point, so as not to look too self serving.

Of the others who signed the open letter, Bergeron (from Engineers Canada), Chakma (from Western University) and Fournier (from SEDS Canada) could each be said to have reasonable reasons to jump on the Lunar Gateway bandwagon. They are the usual suspects in this list of Canadian space  industry supporters.

Only Unifor National President Jerry Dias seems, at first glance at least, a little out of place.

But, as outlined in the November 23rd, 2018 Unifor press release "Unifor joins Don’t Let Go Canada coalition in support of long-term space sector strategy" the union, created from the 2013 merger of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) represents "forty companies,  associations, labour groups and academic organizations from the aerospace sector" including workers at Boeing Canada (Local 2169), Bombardier/ de Havilland(Local 112), Cascade Aerospace (Local 114), CMC Electronics, Magellan Aerospace (Local 3005) and Pratt and Whitney Canada (Local 510).

The Unifor president also represents autoworkers at the Oshawa ON General Motors plant which, as outlined in the November 26th, 2018 CTV News post, "GM 'betraying' Canada by closing Oshawa plant: Unifor president," will likely take up much of his time over the next little while, so it's unknown how much he can contribute to the campaign.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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