Should Canada Scuttle the MacDonald Dettwiler Sale?

Don Martin has an op-ed in the National Post urging the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to scuttle the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates’ space division to American defense contractor Alliant Technosystems.

“This company’s heavily subsidized satellite technology was designed specifically to assert Northern sovereignty, assess global warming’s impact on our crops, measure sea-ice thickness and even spot submarines in shallow water,” Martin writes. “And that’s just the state-of-the-art 2,200-kilogram RADARSAT 2 satellite built and launched by MDA only three months ago.”

The proposed sale, overwhelmingly approved last week by shareholders, has created a major backlash north of the border. The company says it will produce a cash infusion that will allow it to focus on other businesses. Critics like Martin say the sale will devastate Canada’s space industry. The Canadian and American governments must approve the deal.

Shareholders overwhelmingly approved the sale on the very day that MDA’s latest creation, Dextre, rocketed into orbit aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Astronauts have spent the last few days installing and activating the maintenance robot on the exterior of the station. MDA also built the Canadarm robot cranes for the space shuttle and space station.