It was a short speech in which many in the audience where expecting your typical Ministerial speech. But ever so subtly the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, a former astronaut and President of the Canadian Space Agency, surprised many with one short sentence.
Garneau’s keynote speech at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute’s Ready for Launch, Preparing Canada for a future in Space last Tuesday, October 16 was short, just over 12 minutes and you can listen to it below. His speech was mostly what you would expect from someone who was so prominent in Canada’s space sector.
He said he’s a strong advocate of the space sector at the cabinet table. He said he tries to inform his colleagues that they need vision and that major programs need long timelines.
But it was less than 30 seconds into his speech where he surprised many.
He said “now I’m obviously a bit biased about space. I have been for a very, very long time. I’m a strong believer that uh, that uh, of the importance of space for Canada. And I think up until now we’ve been a serious player in space.”
Did Garneau make a mistake in what he was saying? Is Canada no longer a serious player in the space sector? Or was he sending a message to his colleagues in cabinet?
The conference in Ottawa at the Westin hotel, a short walk from parliament, included a who’s who from industry but also the likes of John Knubley, Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
It’s been hard to gage what cabinet will do with the space file. SpaceQ has been told that Garneau and Minister Navdeep Bains have been vocal supporters at the cabinet table. But running a country and implementing your political party’s agenda means making choices. The Liberal’s have put forward a strong social and innovation agenda. Perhaps Minister Garneau along with Minister Bains will make a strong enough case at the cabinet table to get some serious and meaningful action on the space file.
Updated at October 24, 2018, 8:30 a.m. EST with event title.