ISED Minister Navdeep Bains making funding announcement
ISED Minister Navdeep Bains talking about the previously announced funding in the budget. Credit: CSA.

The CSA and ISED Blew it and Missed an Opportunity for Good Media Coverage

They blew it. Plain and simple.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) press conference yesterday was billed by the CSA as a funding announcement and the event included two senior cabinet ministers. So you would think the announcement would be more substantive. Unfortunately the hype didn’t meet expectations.  

To be clear, media who covered the event went into the press conference thinking this was funding announcement. That’s what the CSA press release leading up the event said. It was titled “New funding to be announced for Canada’s space program” and said “the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, and David Lametti, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, will announce new funding for the Canadian Space Agency.”

The ISED press release that was issued at the time of the event started was actually titled “Ministers Bains and Garneau celebrate $80.9 million for the Canadian Space Agency” and it made no mention of the new Canadian CubeSat Project. So it seems ISED and the CSA communications departments got their signals crossed.

The event lost a good deal of its value because of this apparent communication snafu. The CSA and ISED would have been much better served to have focused on the Canadian CubeSat Project only.

As the ISED press release stated, Minister Bains did indeed spend time celebrating the $80.9 million in new funding. He reiterated the funding announcement included in the budget for a Mars orbiter instrument and quantum encryption technology. He celebrated the new Space Advisory Board. He celebrated Canada’s continued contribution to the ISS. Oh, and he spent less than a minute on the new Canadian CubeSat Project. So the event seemed more like a political stunt.

The only new item of discussion in the event was the Canadian CubeSat Project. The CSA and ISED could have, should have, spent the whole time talking about this project. That by empowering students to participate in the ongoing small satellite revolution new innovations might be had. That students in different fields, not just science and technology, but design and business are needed to take a satellite from idea to development and finally, a launched mission. That the data from satellites is invaluable. That small satellites cost less and can do more than we previously thought.

A well crafted media event by the CSA and ISED would have gotten some prime time media. What did they get in media coverage? Almost nothing.

It’s an opportunity lost.

Updated: 5:55 p.m. EDT.

To further confuse the issue, the speech Minister Bains delivered yesterday was just released under the title “Canadian Space Agency Budget 2017 Rollout.” If they had only advertised that as the topic of the announcement and then mentioned the new funding for the Canadian CubeSat Project it would have been better received by the media.


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About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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