Space Sector Gains Visibility as the Government Releases Details of the Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies

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Canada in Space

The federal government announced today more details regarding the earlier announced review of aerospace policy and programs. Significant among them for the space sector is a change in name of the review itself. The review is now called the Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies instead of the previous Review of Aerospace Policy and Programs.

The Harper government is always meticulous when it comes to releasing news and speaking points. The fact that the name of the review has been changed can be credited in part to the ongoing efforts of Canadian Space Agency President Steve MacLean to raise the awareness of the importance and impact the space sector has on Canadian lives.

Here's what we know and don't know after today's announcement.

The review will begin immediately and will be lead by the Honourable David L. Emerson a 40 year veteran in both the public and private sectors. Mr. Emerson retired from office in 2008 after holding several cabinet positions including Minister of Industry and Foreign Affairs. As previously announced the review findings will be submitted to the Minister of Industry in late 2012 and then released to the public.

Working with Mr. Emerson will be a three-member advisory council consisting of Ms. Sandra Pupatello, Mr. Jim Quick and Dr. Jacques Roy.

Ms. Sandra Pupatello is Director of Business Development and Global Markets for PricewaterhouseCoopers, based out of Toronto and was previously Ontario's longest serving Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

Mr. Jim Quick is the President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) and was previously Assistant Deputy Minister of corporate communications with the government of New Brunswick.

Dr. Jacques Roy is a professor and Director of the Department of Logistics and Operations Management at HEC Montreal, Universit de Montral.

Mr. Emerson and the council will be supported by a Secretariat consisting of 11 people.

The Honorable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry announced the Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies in Montreal today.

"The Harper Government is focusing on what matters to Canadians--job creation and economic growth," said Minister Paradis. "Canadian aerospace and space sectors are leaders in their fields, and our government wants to ensure that they continue to create quality jobs across the country today and in the future. This comprehensive review will examine how we can maximize our efforts, together with industry, to sustain Canada's leadership position."

"Today, as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, we are launching a complete review of our aerospace and space programs and policies to ensure that Canada continues to have a strong aerospace and space sector and that we continue to protect the nearly 80,000 jobs that rely on it."

Mr. Paradis said the review will involve industry and key stakeholders and examine the following:

the long-term goals of the Canadian aerospace and space sectors;
the recent and anticipated future trends in the global and domestic aerospace and space sectors and how these trends could impact the Canadian industry;
the key opportunities and major challenges for the Canadian industry; and
the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian industry.

Playing a key role in the review will be the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) and its members Mr. Paradis said.

Commenting on the news Mr. David Schellenberg, Chairman of the AIAC Board of Directors said "Mr. Emerson is a seasoned leader and strategic thinker. His impressive experience in public policy development acquired as the head of various public organizations, his private sector background, and his thorough understanding of global economic forces shaping the Canadian geo-political landscape give him the perfect combination of skills and experience to execute this mandate."

"The Canadian aerospace industry is currently the fifth largest in the world and employs 80,000 Canadians from coast-to-coast" Mr. Schellenberg added. "To compete globally, our industry needs the right government policies and programs to take advantage of outstanding opportunities for growth in the future. A competitive Canadian aerospace industry will result in more high-skilled jobs and other benefits to the Canadian economy."

The review will focus on a number of questions including:

What are the comparative advantages and vulnerabilities of Canada's aerospace sector?
What opportunities and challenges do changing conditions present?
What can the Canadian aerospace sector do to take advantage of these opportunities and meet these challenges?
What might Canada learn from strategies used by governments, companies, and researchers in other countries?
What impacts are existing policies and programs having?
What modified or alternative policies and programs might government consider?

The review will use a variety of tools to gather information and public input including:

A literature review and analysis of available data.
Working groups led by industry representatives.
Regional roundtables to solicit views from interested parties across the country.
An assessment of best practices in Canada and abroad.
Solicitation of written submissions.

The AIAC has already created the six working groups which will be led by industry and will include other relevant stakeholders who will be invited to provide their insight. The working groups have approximately six months to complete their work. The groups are:

- The Technology Development, Demonstration and Commercialization Working Group will identify and assess current Government of Canada instruments that support innovation and commercialization in the Canadian aerospace industry and identify potential changes to those instruments to address future opportunities for the industry.

- The Space Working Group will examine how Government of Canada policies and programs can best be used to foster the economic growth and competitiveness of the Canadian space industry in order to meet public policy objectives and capture commercial opportunities.

- The Market Access and Market Development Working Group will work to understand the changing nature of global supply chains and the implications of these changes on the Canadian aerospace industry. This group will also assess current Government of Canada policies and programs that support market access and market development including export controls, barriers to trade and civil aviation certification.

- The Aerospace-Related Public Procurement Working Group will examine how procurement by the Government of Canada can be leveraged to optimize economic benefits for - and enhance the competitiveness of - the Canadian aerospace industry.

- The People and Skills Working Group will examine the current and future human capital issues impacting the competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace industry and how Government of Canada policies and programs can best be used to address these issues.

- The Small Business and Supply Chain Development Working Group will examine the issues influencing the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized businesses and the effective positioning of Canadian SMEs in global supply chains.

The Aerospace Review also now has its own web site. The web site includes instructions on how to submit a submission to the review. All submissions must be received by June 30.

The web site also includes an eight page discussion paper which the site says provides "a framework for research, consultations, and submissions related to the Aerospace Review".

The paper covers key areas including the space sectors and delves briefly into some of the issues facing the sector.

"The space industry, with the exception of commercially viable satellite communications, is mostly driven by government activity.

The satellite communications segment has experienced significant growth in the past decade, reflecting a rising need for communications solutions throughout the world, especially in emerging markets. This trend is expected to continue.

The outlook for the remainder of the space industry is more ambiguous. Governments around the world are using space assets and new space-based applications to improve the efficiency and quality of services, protect national security, enhance environmental monitoring, and enable economic development. The peaceful exploration of space through initiatives such as the International Space Station also remains a priority for many governments. Budget constraints, however, could affect the scale of public investments in these areas.

The international trade environment for the space industry is also somewhat uncertain. The aforementioned exemption in trade rules for national security considerations can be interpreted as covering goods and technologies designed for use in space if, for example, they can be employed for military as well as civilian purposes. While Canadian firms have been competitive in global markets, the exemption can be applied where trade conditions are not clearly spelled out in international agreements, thereby limiting sales opportunities."

So what's not covered in today's announcement?

We don't know when the regional roundtables will happen and how interested parties will participate. We also don't know who will will be in the various working groups. I expect we'll have answers to these soon enough.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 4:30 pm ET update: When contacted by SpaceRef on the matter of whether any public meetings will be held the Aerospace review
got back to us today and informed us that there will be no public meetings.

(With contributions from Randy Attwood, SpaceRef Senior Editor)