Friday, December 14, 2018

2019 Federal Pre-Budget Consultation Report Mentions "Significant, Ongoing Investments to Advance Canada’s Space Program"

          By Chuck Black

The report was formally adopted by the Committee on December 6th, 2018 and presented to the Canadian House of Commons on December 10th, 2018. It's essentially a summary of the 493 written briefs and 393 in-person presentations made by a variety of individuals and organizations looking to influence how the Federal government spends the money it collects from Canadian taxpayers.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The report even mentions two sets of recommendations from Brampton ON based MDA (a subsidiary of Westminster CO based Maxar Technologies) and Nova Scotia based Maritime Launch Services (MLS). As outlined on page 64 of the PDF version of the report:
Maritime Launch Services Ltd. identified a need for more streamlined funding structures for budding launch vehicle and launch site technology initiatives. It advocated for a specific research category for launch R&D funding under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), among others.
Page 94 of the report noted that:
In order to prevent the loss of talents in the space industry, Maritime Launch Services Ltd. called on the federal government to invest in Canadian space industry and incentivize new business practices through partnerships with Canadian companies, not-for-profits and charities so that the youth may be equipped with STEM skills relevant to the launch industry and the overall space industry.
On page 74 of the PDF report:
The MDA Space Missions Group asked that the federal government recognize space as a national strategic asset and a key contributor to Canada’s competitiveness. It proposed the creation of a long-term space plan for Canada, including enough funding to maintain existing leadership in space science, cultivate new areas of leadership and position Canada for competitiveness in the space economy. The space plan should also include a commitment to building a third-generation Canadarm at a cost of $1 to $2 billion over the next 20 years.

Those three quotes weren't weren't the only mention of items of interest in the 272 page report and working through this parliamentary committee is not the only avenue being pursued to encourage the government to make changes of benefit to the space industry.

As outlined in the December 6th, 2018 post, "Space Mining and Innovation Should Be Encouraged Through the Tax Code, According to NRCan and CATA Alliance" and the October 15th, 2018 post, "The Federal Space Advisory Board (SAB) Insists that It's Working Hard," there are other ideas being promoted by other organizations.

Longtime readers of this blog will also note some serious serious concerns relating to the context of the proposals being championed by MDA and MLS.

But the overall process is far more transparent and open than the one which existed prior to the 2012 David Emerson led Aerospace Review. The old Canadian Space Agency (CSA), which until then essentially managed and controlled most Canadian space projects, was a black box impervious to outside assessment or oversight.

As outlined in the December 5th, 2012 post, "What the Space Volume of the Aerospace Review Actually Says," Emerson acknowledged the ongoing (but then mostly unacknowledged) procurement problems within the CSA and recommended increased oversight.

It also called for a narrowing of the CSA mandate to the point where it would no longer be a "policy-making body" or "directly involved in designing and manufacturing space assets purchased by the government." The old role would essentially be taken up by other departments and carried on in a far more "ad-hoc," but also more public process.

That's the situation we have today and it's part of the reason we know what the major players in the industry are advocating.

As noted in the January 19th, 2013 post, "Praising Steve MacLean," no one knows what was in the 2009 long-term space plan compiled by the former CSA president Steve MacLean and no one knows what became of it, although there are certainly rumors.

The current Justin Trudeau Liberal government should be congratulated for following through on Emerson's recommendations to change that.

As is normal with these annual pre-budget consultations, no government response was requested, although it is expected that the ninety-nine recommendations listed will inform and influence the next annual Federal Budget, currently expected to be released in the spring of 2019.

Links to the in-person and written presentations for all the participants in the process are included on the government website.

As for whether or not the next budget will include mention of a new space plan or the funding required to move forward with specific projects, we'll just have to wait and see.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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