Space Canada, a prominent voice of this country’s space industry, wanted two things from the federal budget: A National Space Council and more federal investment in the industry. They got some new investment but no National Space Council.
To be specific, “Space Canada strongly recommends that the Government of Canada create a National Space Council chaired by the Prime Minister to enhance space policies, investments, and initiatives, and to facilitate the level of collaboration required for Canada to be a global leader in space,” says the pre-budget submission delivered to the Trudeau government in February, 2023. As well, “Space Canada recommends that the Government of Canada prioritize the space sector through investment, regulatory and the advancement of space related policies.”
Space Canada’s pitch for a National Space Council and more government investment is not new. But it is a sign that the association is staying the course on promoting these two important initiatives.
“For us, what’s really important is to keep highlighting and raising awareness with key stakeholders of the importance of space to the quality of life of Canadians and how space can help Canada and the rest of the world tackle global societal economic, planetary environmental challenges,” said Space Canada CEO Brian Gallant. “So the budget submission that we were able to make for the upcoming budget of the federal government was another opportunity to raise awareness and make the arguments as to why space is an investment and that can reap many rewards and it is also something that should be prioritized. It’s contributing billions of dollars to Canada’s GDP every year now and it’s contributing thousands of jobs to Canada’s economy now. But we also have much more of an opportunity in the years to come to see economic growth in the space sector.”
For the Canadian Space Agency and others in the Canadian space industry, the creation of a National Space Council to mirror those already created in the U.S. and other countries is a no-brainer. “We do feel that the US example is a very good one where you have many of the major players within the administration getting together,” he told SpaceQ. “It’s led by the Vice President, which obviously sends a strong signal that this is a priority for the United States.” As for who should be sitting at our National Space Council table? Along with industry players, “you’d want DND, Global Affairs, ISED, Transport Canada, Public Safety, Environment and Climate Change, and the Canadian Space Agency there,” replied Gallant.
As the former Premier of New Brunswick, Brian Gallant has firsthand knowledge of how government actually works. So why have the feds been so historically resistant to the establishment of a National Space Council, when such a body seems to be a competitive necessity in the global space industry? He suggests that Ottawa may be hesitant to create the National Space Council because “if we create something like this, we worry that it’s a precedent-setter and other sectors will want something similar,” Gallant said. He doesn’t buy this excuse because Canada’s space industry encompasses many sectors and many areas of government responsibility.
The Canadian federal budget was released yesterday with new funding for the space program.