Canada and militarization of space

Walt Natynczyk, the former Chief of Defence Staff who now serves as President of the Canadian Space Agency, insists his appointment does not signal the militarization of Canada’s space program (Peter Rakobowchuk, “Canadian Space Agency boss insists his appointment does not spell militarization,” Canadian Press, 20 April 2014).

“I have to support the mandate that the Government of Canada has given the space agency and that is the peaceful use of space and it doesn’t change whatsoever,” Natynczyk told The Canadian Press back in April.

But whatever the future of the Canadian Space Agency may be, the government is definitely increasing Canada’s military activities in space.

A joint statement released by the British government shows that Canada is expanding its cooperation with three international partners on space-related defence activities (Aaron Mehta, “US, UK, Australia and Canada Announce Combined Space Ops,” Defense News, 20 May 2014).

According to the release, Canada is joining Britain, Australia, and the U.S. in an initiative to share “space-related information and resources to synchronise space operations among partners and provide enhanced awareness of the space environment.”

“The partnership will allow for more effective and coordinated use of their space capabilities through cooperation on activities such as identifying and understanding what objects are in space, ensuring uninterrupted satellite operations, and avoiding satellite collisions,” the statement reads. “Such activities will make a significant contribution towards a safer and more secure space environment while also enhancing mutual security.”

Earlier this month Ceasefire.ca reported that Ottawa is re-evaluating the merits of joining a U.S.-led “missile shield,” which was rejected by the Paul Martin government a decade ago.

When Prime Minister Harper appointed his former Chief of Defence Staff to head up the Canadian Space Agency he assured Canadians he wasn’t militarizing space.

Is the government now backtracking on that commitment?

Photo credit: NASA Goddard

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