Evidence of meeting #32 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was patents.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Gay Yuyitung  Business Development Manager, McMaster Industry Liaison Office, McMaster University
  • Scott Inwood  Director, Commercialization, University of Waterloo
  • David Barnard  President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Manitoba
  • Digvir Jayas  Vice-President, Research and International, University of Manitoba
  • Catherine Beaudry  Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical and Industrial Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal , As an Individual

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

That is out of order.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

You can't move a motion on a point of order, Mr. McColeman.

Go ahead, Mr. Harris.

May 17th, 2012 / 10:25 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

I certainly do not yield the floor yet.

On the purpose of this motion, there has been a lot in the media. There has been a lot said on both sides. There seems to be agreement among all three parties that the RADARSAT constellation program is a critical one. MDA has announced they will be laying off at least a hundred people.

They've already lost some of their key engineers and scientists. They are some of the really great and bright minds in Canada. When we're having a study on intellectual property, these people are frankly walking, talking intellectual property. If we don't support companies like MDA these people will go to Germany, Japan, and the United States, and all of their knowledge and talent will go with them. That will create a serious brain drain.

It was widely expected that further funding for the RADARSAT constellation program would be in the budget. Lack of funding has caused destabilization in MDA, because the designs have been done and all the work has been done for the first three of the four phases of development. All that's left is the building. MDA needs the contract in order to actually build the satellites.

As we understand it, there have been changes made to the program that could increase the costs: things like the Department of National Defence changing specs, Canada Space Agency changing specs, and the government coming back. It looks like they've been asked to move from having one launch of three satellites, to two separate launches: one with two satellites, and one with one satellite. Of course, launching a satellite into space is no small endeavour. Right there that adds almost $100 million to the cost of the program.

I think it is important for us as the industry committee to hear from both Industry Canada and MDA as to the status of the program. Where are the roadblocks, and what can we do as a committee to get that project moving forward so we don't lose that critical part of our aerospace industry and all the talent that goes with it, as happened with other programs that were lost in the past?

I don't think that's the right direction for us to take. This would be one meeting. Although it wasn't specifically stated that I'd be moving a motion at this meeting, since our next meeting is on the 29th, this is the only meeting at which I'll be able to move this motion.

As a result, I move the motion. I believe Mr. Regan has an amendment that I will find friendly.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Mr. Regan.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

In view of the fact that the minister has the responsibility to answer why this has been delayed, what has happened here in terms of the funding, and why there is no contract, it seems to me that we ought to add him to this study to answer questions about this.

I move that the motion be amended by adding after “Industry Canada” the words “as well as the Minister of Industry”.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

I think the substance of the motion is there.

Now we'll go to Mr. Braid, and then back to Mr. Masse and Mr. Harris.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Given that we're dealing with future business, for all intents and purposes, it has always been the practice of this committee and all other committees—including the other committee I happen to sit on that is chaired by a member of the NDP—that future business is dealt with in camera.

Now that I have the floor, I move that we go in camera to deal with this motion.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Thank you, Mr. Braid.

It's a dilatory motion, so we can go right to a vote.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Can we have a recorded vote, Mr. Chair?

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Sure.

(Motion agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5)

[Proceedings continue in camera]