Canadian Government Delays MDA Decision
[Satellite Today – 3-21-08] The Canadian government March 20 extended the deadline for making a decision on the sale of the space unit of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to ATK, according to press reports. The deadline for the decision was March 22, but Industry Canada Minister Jim Prentice exercised a 30-day extension of the review.
MDA announced in January that it had agreed to sell its space businesses to ATK for $1.3 billion dollars, and the transaction has been approved by each company’s board and MDA shareholders. MDA manufactures many Canadian contributions to the International Space Station and operates the Radarsat-2 imagery satellite, which was placed into orbit in December.
The deal has been criticized in Canada by groups concerned that the sale would hand over a key segment of Canada’s aerospace industrial base and technology to a foreign company. On March 20, the Rideau Institute, a research, advocacy and consulting group based in Ottawa, and the Canadian Auto Workers released a legal opinion that raised concerns about the proposed deal.
The opinion, written by Rideau’s legal counsel, Steven Shrybman of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, says the proposed sale of MDA assets to ATK is contrary to Canada’s interests and cannot be approved under either the Investment Canada Act or the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act. “Under U.S. regulations concerning remote sensing space systems such as Radarasat-2, U.S. national interests take precedence and will supercede the authority Canada now exercises under the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act over the operation of Radarsat-2,” according to the opinion.
"Our legal opinion clearly shows that the sale of MDA’s space division to a U.S. arms manufacturer would hand Washington the power to deny Ottawa access to images from our own satellite," Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, said in a statement.