Trudeau Names New Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Justin Trudeau

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has replaced the minister who oversees the nation’s space program as part of a shakeup of his cabinet that also involved the first Canadian to travel to space.

Trudeau named minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne to replace Navdeep Bains as minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. The position involves overseeing the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) among other duties.


Canadarm2 Spinoff Technology Transforming Surgery on Earth

Operating room (Credit: Synaptive Medical/Cicada Design Inc.)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — Since its space debut in 1981, Canadarm has made its mark on the world stage. In exchange for Canadarm’s vital contributions to NASA‘s space shuttle program, Marc Garneau was granted a seat aboard Space Shuttle Challenger as part of Mission STS-41-G in 1984, making him the first Canadian astronaut to launch to space.


Canada Announces $80.9 Million Investment in Space Industry

SAINT-HUBERT, Quebec, April 27, 2017 (Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada PR) — Canada’s space sector develops new technologies that have the potential to advance scientific discovery and improve the lives of Canadians.

This is why Budget 2017 proposes to provide $80.9 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to the Canadian Space Agency. These investments will be used to develop emerging technologies, will create more well-paying jobs, will support scientific breakthroughs and will make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, was joined by the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport and the first Canadian in space, to celebrate the proposed funding at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters outside Montréal.


For Canada, a New Leader & the Promise of an Actual Space Policy

canadaflagCanada elected a new leader on Monday, with Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party sweeping to victory and ousting Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party from power. Harper has governed the country since February 2006 and had been seeking his fourth electoral mandate.

The election promises to bring some change to Canada’s largely moribund space program, which has suffered from benign neglect during nearly a decade of Conservative rule. It took the Harper government eight years to come up with a policy framework for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Two of the last three CSA presidents have had no discernible background in space.

During the campaign, the Liberals promised to develop a long-term space policy. Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space and a Liberal Party MP from Montreal, said the plan

should include “a very strong signal that Canada is going to use space to help us, particularly with respect to the environmental changes that are occurring on our planet and in our oceans.”

Garneau also indicated there would be more funding for research and development under a Liberal government.

“We have been a leader in communications technologies and we need to provide more in terms of R&D for that sector,” Garneau added.

Steve MacLean, a former astronaut who served as  CSA president from 2008 to 2013, developed a long-term space plan in 2009. Harper’s government did not embrace the plan.

Q&A: Ex-Astronaut Garneau Seeks to Guide Science, Space Policies from Parliament

Garneau’s next mission: bring science to politics
CBC News

“Even before Liberal member of Parliament Marc Garneau won his riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie, the former astronaut was no stranger to politics, having served as head of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 until 2006 and then losing a bid to win a seat in the House of Commons in the 2006 federal election.

“Now Garneau, who for years distinguished himself as a scientist and Canada’s first man in space, finds himself in an unusual position of trying to bring science and technology issues to the forefront, not as an administrator, but as a critic.

“Garneau, the Liberal party science and technology critic, will be asked to weigh in on the Conservative government’s policies on familiar topics such as space and research funding, but also, alongside new industry critic Gerrard Kennedy, on areas such as internet neutrality and copyright reform.”

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times (Canada)

Declaring the nation to be at a crossroads in space, the Toronto Star is urging Canadian policymakers to chart a firm course for the country.

Star editors point to three worrisome signs: Canada’s active astronaut corps has dwindled down to three; its last contribution to the International Space Station, the Dextre robot, was successfully installed on the space station last week; and the builder of Dextre and Radarsat 2 is up for sale to an American defense contractor.

The paper urged Conservative Industry Jim Prentice “to weigh the merits – and demerits” of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ plan to sell its space division to Alliant Technosystems. Beyond that, the Star editors said policymakers need to define what precisely Canada should do in space.

“Marc Garneau, former astronaut and past head of the Canadian Space Agency (and a future Liberal candidate), says what we need is a comprehensive space strategy. ‘We are very much at a crossroads, at a time when even India, China and Brazil have got very ambitious space programs,’ says Garneau. ‘It seems everybody’s going up there while we are beginning to slip,'” the editors wrote.