Thursday, March 20, 2008

Space: The Final Frontier...

Just don't tell that to Jim Prentice

In the future (theoretically) mankind will travel amongst the stars as easily as they travel around the planet today.

Unless, if a controversial plan to sell a publicly-funded cutting-edge space technology company to a US arms maker goes ahead, you're Canadian. Then you'll probably have to hire yourself an intergalactic taxi cab.

In the face of escalating public pressure, federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice has called for further review of a plan to sell MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates to Alliant Techsystems, a US-based arms firm.

MDA builds equipment such as the Canadarm and satellites such as the Radarsat-2, which will be crucial in maintaining Canada's arctic sovereingty -- a key issue being persued by Prime Minster Stephen Harper.

Although some of the outrage over selling MDA to a firm that builds and exports weapons is overblown -- Alliant also produces peaceful space technology -- this sale should simply not be allowed to go through.

First off, the price tag on the deal is insulting. $1.325 billion for a company that produces the quality technology that MDA produces is, frankly, ridiculous.

But the bigger issues underlying the sale deal with Canada's research and development sector, which are crucial to building a competitive 21st century economy.

Fortunately, some within Prentice's own party have recognized the critical importance of the issue and have spoken out against the plan.

"It is a waste of your money and a betrayal of the public interest," said Conservative MP Art Hanger. "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."

"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?"

Hanger is 100% right. The sale of MDA would transform Canada from a leading nation in development of spacebound technology into just another straggler playing catchup -- and after we've worked so hard to put ourselves amongst the front of the pack.

The MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates sale must not go through.

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