Canada in Space

Canada’s New Space Advisory Board Should be Open and Transparent

Today, Canada’s new Space Advisory Board will meet for the first time and a government dedicated to being open and transparent should follow NASA’s example, and make most Board meetings open to the public, either in person or by teleconference.

As well, we still don’t know who has been selected to serve on this new advisory board. SpaceQ did contact the department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) yesterday to ascertain if they would be making an announcement today but did not hear back from them before publication.

We do know the board is comprised of 10 people from academia, industry and other institutions and that there is representation from across the country.

SpaceQ had previously contacted ISED on what the hold-up was and what the Board’s role would be in the developing a new Space Strategy. We were told at the time that the “Board will be named in the coming weeks.” That was three weeks ago. We were also told that “we are currently in the process of appointing the Board based on an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process that is reflective of Canada’s diversity and guided by the Prime Minister’s process for appointments.”

With respect to their role in developing a new Space Strategy we were told “the members of the Board will support the development of long term priorities for Canada’s space sector and consult stakeholders to define the key elements of a space strategy. The new strategy, to be launched this summer, will set out aspirational goals for its future space program, and will be consistent with the Government’s commitment to stimulate innovation and economic growth under the Innovation Agenda.”

The NASA Advisory Council Meetings Model

NASA provides a good model to follow. Meetings “of the Council are open to the public unless they deal with specific matters qualifying for exemption under the Government in the Sunshine Act. Meetings are announced in advance by NASA in the Federal Register.”

“The Council meets several times a year for fact finding and deliberative sessions. Meetings are held at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, as well as at NASA Centers across the country. Committee meetings may be held immediately prior to full Council meetings, or at different times and locations.”

“The records and files of the Council are maintained by the Council Executive Director. Copies of these records are available to the public upon request, subject to the exemptions allowed in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Council also maintains a website at http://www.nasa.gov/nac.”

The space community, public and government would be better served if most of the business of the Space Advisory Board was conducted in an open and transparent way. It would allow journalists to cover and report the thinking of the community and increase awareness of what Canada does in space and why it does it.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceRef Canada Interactive Inc, CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef U.S., advisor and co-founder of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, and director and co-founder of MaxQ Accelerator Inc. Previously he was the founder of Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine which he sold.
  • A reader pointed out that the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) is another example of an open Federal Advisory Committee in the U.S. that could be used as a model.