Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Avro Arrow Deal All Over Again

Ruling on sale of Canadarm delayed:

"'This deal would be devastating to Canada's aerospace industry and would gut our capacity to defend Arctic and national sovereignty,' said Brison."
It's good news that Industry Minister Jim Prentice has extended the deadline by 30 days for making a final decision on the sale of our space research and technology to an American defence contractor and arms maker. Already scientists have quit MDA in anticipation of the sale, not wanting to work for an arms maker in a foreign country. They, like most of us, assumed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would rubber stamp the sale, like he has for other important companies, not caring a whit that you can't yak about our economic future in one breath and then revert us back to the branch plant economy that we were in the 1970s by allowing all these sales of our companies. We became a branch plant economy thanks in large part to decisions made in previous decades to sell off our research and technology, like the Arrow. Funnily enough, that decision was also made by a Conservative PM: Diefenbaker.

Yesterday, Harper said that Canada needs to participate in research and development for the good of our economy. (BTW I'm talking about Harper having the final say over the sale, not Prentice, because as we all know, there's only a government of one in Ottawa at the moment.) If he understands that R&D is important to the economic wealth and independence of a country, then why not immediately state that the sale of such an important Canadian asset to a foreign power is not allowed? George Bush, for all his dumb ways, at least gets that. I highly doubt he'd let some foreign country gain control over space technology American taxpayers had funded and furthermore, technology that is important in asserting Arctic sovereignty.

Harper made the Arctic one of his key policies. He talked about it in his throne speech. Why then is he considering giving his blessing to a sale that essentially contradicts his stated intention? I had no idea until I read this article that a key component to maintaining our sovereignty over our North is also part of this sale: Radarsat-2. As much as selling our future status as a key player in the information age and knowledge economy is a really bad idea, selling the satellite that keeps an eye on our territory is plain dumb.

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