Readers familiar with our ongoing Canadian Space Agency Watch series know that space policy is an issue we tend to focus on. In particular the long anticipated but elusive Long-Term Space Plan (LTSP) the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has been working in since the fall of 2008. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we found out that not only had the LTSP not been submitted to the Minister of Industry and Cabinet for consideration, but that it was not yet finished.
In a request to the Office of the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and the Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, SpaceRef asked the question Will the next Canadian Space Agency Long-Term Space Plan be released by this spring?
The response from Paul Engel, Director, Communications & Public Affairs of the CSA was “In the near future, the Agency will be fine tuning the input received from stakeholders and presenting the Plan to the Minister of Industry and Cabinet for consideration.” While not answering my original question Engel did provide some useful information.
So while a LTSP still has no release date does that mean the government has no space policy? The answer to this question is both yes and no. No, there is no public LTSP available and it now seems the government is in no rush to release one.
However in 2008 the government was in a rush to get a LTSP done as there was a new President at the CSA in former astronaut Steve MacLean and there was still the uproar over the sale of MDA which the government blocked.
What’s changed since then? Well for one the uproar of the sale of MDA has faded and MDA has garnered some lucrative contracts and secondly it appears the nature of this Conservative government under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to govern with less oversight and public input than previous governments, whether right or wrong. In other words, even though they have a minority they will govern as if they have a majority and do it their way. The question is, does this hinder or help Canadian space policy? And what of the stakeholders? Will their voice be reflected in a public LTSP? At this point, the answer still remains no.
What are your thoughts?
PS. Tomorrow the Canadian Space Commerce Association is holding its annual meeting with the theme “The Growing Canadian Commercial Space Sector”. MDA will be represented by Christian Sallaberger and he will be the keynote speaker. You can still register here: http://spacecommerce.ca/agm2010. SpaceRef is the media sponsor for the event.