If space is so central to Canada’s economy and a driver of economic growth during the pandemic, why is it that the Space Advisory Board is dormant and that Canada hasn’t taken the next logical step and create a National Space Council similar to that of the U.S.?
Part of the problem is that Canada has no industry association focused on the space sector to advocate for it. Sure, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) does spend a little time on space, but their central focus is on the aviation sector. We’ve heard rumours of a new space focused industry association that may be forthcoming, and if true, this may help the current situation.
In the U.S. it was announced last week that the Biden administration will keep the National Space Council going. Politico was the first to report this.
In a statement, a National Space Council spokesperson told Space Policy Online and other news outlets that “At a time of unprecedented activity and opportunity generated by America’s activities in space, the National Space Council will be renewed to assist the President in generating national space policies, strategies, and synchronizing America’s space activities.”
“While we are still working details, we will tailor the Council to ensure we have representation that can address the priorities of the Administration—such as space-related science and technologies, space exploration, solutions to address climate change, ensuring economic and educational opportunities, building partnerships, cementing norms of behaviors in space, and addressing matters of national security efforts in space. This is not an all-inclusive list.”
The last we heard of the Space Advisory Board was just before the declaration of the pandemic. The Board was to have met with then ISED Minister Bains, but instead met with Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy. Since then we’ve heard nothing and the SAB’s mandate expired last spring.
In August last year after our inquiry to ISED a spokesperson sent us a statement that said “The Space Advisory Board was still active through late 2019 and 2020, and they last had an in-person meeting with our Deputy Minister this March. Since then, the Board has been providing updates to industry during these unprecedented events. The next steps for the Space Advisory Board are still being decided.”
If our neighbours to the south consider space activities and the jobs and revenue they create important enough for the White House to engage an industry panel on a regular basis at such a high level, why doesn’t the Canadian government?
It’s time the government sent a signal to stakeholders and the world that space in important to Canada and its government. A first step would be from going ‘to be decided’ to reconstituting the Space Advisor Board and then the government should create our own National Space Council that interfaces on a semi-regular basis with cabinet.