Feds delay ruling on sale of Canada's top space firm
Robert Fife, CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief
Published Thursday, March 20, 2008 10:17PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 7:54PM EDT
OTTAWA - In the face of mounting domestic pressure, Industry Minister Jim Prentice is holding off government approval of the sale of Canada's top space company and a multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded satellite to a U.S. weapons maker, CTV News has learned.
Government insiders say Prentice has ordered another 30-day review of the proposal sale that has been strongly denounced by Canadian scientists, editorial writers, and Calgary Conservative MP Art Hanger.
They want Prentice to stop the $1.3-billion sale of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates of Richmond, B.C., to Alliant Techsystems. MDA is the marker of Canadarm and Radarsat-2.
Critics say the sale of Radarsat-2's state-of-the-art capability to monitor the Arctic would be lost to the U.S., just as Canada's Arctic sovereignty is being promoted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It would mean the loss of high-quality technological jobs in Canada.
Liberal science and technology critic Scott Brison said in a news release Thursday that the sale "exposes Canada's vulnerability to foreign takeovers which pose a national security risk."
Peace activists worry the sale will put cutting edge space technology into the hands of a company that produces landmines, depleted uranium munitions, and other weapons.
"It is a waste of your money and a betrayal of the public interest," Hanger told a newspaper. "It's about time Canada stop playing the nice guy at the expense of our own security and sovereignty -- not to mention our own research and development capacity."
He added: "Why do we so rarely stand firm and fight for what's Canadian? Isn't it time we started protecting our own interests in this country?"
"By losing this technology, we lose a very important tool in affirming our sovereignty in the arctic," retired Colonel Pierre LeBlanc, the former commander of the Canadian Forces in the North told CTV News.
MDA is considered the jewel of Canada's space industry and over the years the federal government has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the company to build it up as Canada's premier space technology firm.
With a report from CTV's Roger Smith