Sunday, March 09, 2008

SPP : Selling sovereignty for profit

From the Conservative Party website Dec 14, 2007 :
Standing on Guard. Defending Canada.
"Today, the Conservative Government strengthened its ability to protect our North by launching a new high-tech satellite which will provide essential 24-hour surveillance over Canada’s Arctic.
From a height of 800 km, the Radarsat-2 uses cutting-edge cloud penetrating radar to monitor foreign ships which approach Canadian waters. Its presence ensures that our control over our Northern islands and waterways is beyond dispute.
The satellite also sends a clear message to the other nations of the world that, after thirteen years of Liberal neglect, Canada is once again serious about protecting our Arctic sovereignty.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to protect Canada’s sovereignty in the North. Investing in this innovative and powerful space technology is another way the Conservative Government is strengthening Canada’s place as a leader on the world stage.
Firm priorities. Strong decisions. Real action. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a leader who takes decisive action to protect Canadians and keep the true North strong and free."
Well, that was a whole two and a half months ago.
Now we're selling off that seemingly 'essential' satellite which 'protects our North' and 'sends a clear message to other nations' and 'strengthens our place as a leader on the world stage' for $1.3B to America's biggest manufacturer of ammunition, including land mines, depleted uranium shells, and cluster bombs.
From David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen :
"Sometime in the next few weeks, Canada's leading space technology firm will pass into American hands and, potentially, the 'top secret' files of the Pentagon. Critics fear millions of dollars of taxpayer investment, a significant number of high-tech jobs, our Arctic sovereignty and our international reputation in space research will also vanish."
MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), Canada's largest space company, is selling off its space assets including Canadarm and the $524-million taxpayer-funded Radarsat-2 satellite to Alliant Technosystems Inc (ATK), because - get this! - the new CEO at MDA has determined that there is more money to be made for its shareholders providing data packages to real estate agents!
Canadians invented it and the Canadian public paid for it but we don't own it and critics within MDA say that following this sale we won't even be allowed to borrow it.
Barring the very unlikely possibility that Industry Canada steps in and puts a stop to the sale, US security concerns will likely bar Canada from any further access to Radarsat-2 climate change data in the far north, and transferred Canadian employees will not have clearance to work on what will become classified US military space programs.

Will Canadian taxpayers be reimbursed for the Canada Space Agency's decision in the late 90's to transfer the satellite technology and all data to MDA to sell off as it likes? Does the pope shit in the woods?
I don't know how much it matters anymore under SPP and its goal of "one security perimeter" that this technology stays under Canadian control, especially given that the Pentagon allegedly already downloads Radarsat-2 data to its field units in Iraq, but I'm sure as hell pissed that Canadian tax dollars are being used to promote US space warfare.

They already know in Ottawa that this is a crap deal with even crappier optics for Mr Defending Artic Sovereignty. Since Canadian scientists and engineers have gone public with their concerns and at least two have quit their jobs on ethical grounds, a planned photo op showing Harper scrutinizing R-2 data *snerk* has been cancelled.
Steven Staples provides a letter you can send to the relevant parties urging Harper not to approve this deal.
Or you could write your own. See if you can't fit something about being "serious about protecting our Arctic sovereignty" and "taking decisive action to protect Canadians" in there somewhere.
Two good articles from David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen :


Robert McClelland said...

Good catch.

West End Bob said...

Good one, Alison.

You are the eyes and ears . . . .

RossK said...

"Barring the very unlikely possibility that Industry Canada steps in and puts a stop to the sale....


More likely, it would be very unlikely that Industry Canada is not doing its best to facilitate the sale.


That guy said...

What Avro Arrow?

Rev.Paperboy said...

...and Chet wins the thread.

If Stephen Harper is so keen on "protecting Canada's sovereignty in the North" I suggest he be given a rifle and a lawn chair and be sent to sit and guard our Northern border with Russia.

Nice catch Alison

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