Two days after the election was called the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) called on all parties to commit to developing an open and public long-term space plan to be published by the end of 2016.
We are happy to report that our efforts to reach out to the main parties worked and that the Liberals and NDP have both committed to developing a long-term space plan with stakeholders.
The CSCA received a letter from veteran NDP member of parliament (MP) Peggy Nash (Parkdale—High Park, Ontario) outlining the NDP response to our call. You can read the full letter below.
The Liberal Party where aware of our call to action and provided the Canadian Press an interview which was featured in this story. The story, which includes quotes from Peggy Nash and Conservative Jay Aspin, was syndicated across the country appearing online on CTV News, Global News, the Huffington Post, the Toronto Star and other publications.
Unfortunately we did not receive a response from the Conservative Party, though Conservative MP Jay Aspin, Chair of the Parliamentary Space Caucus did respond by email to the Canadian Press saying he had no comment on committing to a long-term space plan. Instead he pointed “out that Canada has ‘an incredibly proud reputation in space’ with its renowned Canadarms, which helped build the International Space Station”.
The good news does not end there. In its submission to the finance committee’s pre-budget consultation the CSCA requested an additional $25 million per year for the next three years for the Canadian Space Agency’s Space Technology Development Program.
I’m happy to report both the Liberals and NDP support increasing funding to this important program.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair announced in Montreal last Tuesday that the NDP would set “aside $40-million over four years in the Canadian Space Agency’s space technology development program to help companies commercialize new technologies.” While this is short of the increase we had been asking for, it’s a start.
As to the Liberals, the Canadian Press story reported that Liberal MP Marc Garneau “also indicated there would be more funding for research and development under a Liberal government.”
The CSCA has been able to get two of the three main parties to go on the record with a commitment to a long-term space plan. After the election, regardless of who wins, we will work with all parties and the government to support an important industry that affects the lives of every Canadian on a daily basis.
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Letter from NDP MP Peggy Nash:
Canada’s space sector supports 8,000 good-paying jobs to Canadians across the country, and contributes nearly 3 and a half billion dollars to our economy, and high-value exports. That means a lot amidst growing economic uncertainty and too many middle class families that are being left behind. There are currently 1.3 million unemployed Canadians. That’s over 200,000 more people out of work than before the recession. Middle class families are working harder, while falling further and further behind.
Despite the importance of the Canadian space sector’s importance for Canadian jobs, the Conservatives and Liberals have abandoned this valuable sector of our economy. As the Emerson Report remarked, Conservative and Liberal governments have let core funding for the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) fall by $100 million between 2001-02 and 2012-13, in constant 2001 dollars. The Conservatives cut a further $30 million to the Agency’s budget in 2014-15, as part of the government’s strategic operating review. Sadly, as the Canadian Space Commerce Association notes, the Space Policy Framework provides few details on the Conservatives’ plan to support the space sector.
Conservatives also cut hundreds of millions in support for business investment in R&D and eliminated capital expenditures from being eligible under the Scientific Research & Experimental Development program. This put capital intensive sectors like manufacturing at a major disadvantage.
Tom Mulcair and the NDP have a plan to work with Canada’s space sector to repair the damage done by Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. An NDP government led by Tom Mulcair will create a $40 million innovation tax credit for businesses that invest in machinery, equipment and property used in innovation-boosting research and development. We will cut the small business tax rate from 11 to 9 percent that will provide badly needed tax relief to Canada’s small space companies. An NDP government will extend accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment. This will encourage new investment and help make Canada’s manufacturers more globally competitive.
Instead of cutting badly needed supports to Canada’s space sector, the NDP will work with the sector on a long-term space plan that creates opportunities for Canadian companies and well-paying jobs for Canadians.
NDP Candidate for Parkdale–High Park