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Senate Report Declares Space Assets Critical to Canada’s National Infrastructure

Canada Senate Report "Military underfunded: The walk must match the talk" for the Defense Policy Review. Credit: Senate of Canada.
A new Senate report by the Standing Committee National Security and DefenceMilitary underfunded: The walk must match the talk, commissioned in 2016 as part of the Defence Policy Review concludes that Canada’s space assets need to be declared critical to the nations’ infrastructure and protected. The conclusion comes as no surprise to those who work in the space community. It’s now up to Liberal government to act upon it.

The report is very specific in when it comes to discussing Cyber and Space, devoting a section, “Cyber and Space: Integral to Canada’s Defence and National Security” to the issue.

The Military View on Space Assets

The report states that “the increasingly contested or, at least, operational nature of the cyber and space domains must also be acknowledged in the Defence Policy Review. According to Brigadier-General (Retired) Jim Cox, ‘If you think of what we have now, we have elements who are able to engage in combat and conflict in maritime, land and air. In time, that will include space, and now there is that whole area of cyber. Based on that kind of logic, it’s part of war, and it’s one other area that we will have to operate on.’ He added ‘I think space, if not a battle space, is an important place now because of satellites, radars and imagery and so on. Space is involved and we can’t ignore it.’

Canadian Space Agency President Sylvan Laporte testifying at the Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on Nov. 21, 2017.
Canadian Space Agency President Sylvan Laporte testifying at the Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence on Nov. 21, 2017. Credit: Senate of Canada.

The Canadian Space Agency View on Space Assets

The Seneta committee heard from Canadian Space Agency President Sylvain Laporte, Luc Brûlé, Vice-President; Éric Laliberté, Director General, Space Utilization; and Eric Veilleux, Manager, Planning and Management Financial Resources.

Mr. Laporte said “most satellites, especially the critical infrastructures like telecommunications satellites, are useful for many countries. A desire to attack infrastructure like that would have disastrous consequences.” And as a result the report states “the Agency (CSA) has been pushing for redundancy among satellite systems within Canada.”

Luc Brûlé said “when we talk about infrastructure, in fact we are talking about bringing redundancy and resilience. Having only one satellite in some key applications is risky, so we need to bring more elements to the system. These days we see the beginning of constellations of satellites. When one fails, others can be used to replace the ones that have failed. We need to have depth in our infrastructure to be able to cover that.”

The Canadian Space Agency has advocating with government “the idea of classifying many of our satellites as critical infrastructure” according to Brûlé.

The reports recommendation (13):

That the Government of Canada:

  1.  designate satellites and radar installations as critical infrastructure and;
  2.  seek ways to secure the full spectrum of all critical infrastructure assets against significant threats, including electromagnetic pulse, by 2020 in partnership with the United States and other countries and that it report to Parliament in 180 days, and annually thereafter.

What Will the Government Do?

As with the other issues related to military and space, successive governments have been doing a lot of talk and little action. Procurement decisions keep getting punted or reviewed, policy issues move at a snails pace. If successive governments continue down this path, the repercussions for all Canadians could be difficult and the economy could be the least of the resulting issues.

Download the Senate report: Military underfunded: The walk must match the talk

References:

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.