QP – Follow-up to Satellite Licensing Framework

The Honourable Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate

May 17, 2017

Satellite Licensing Framework

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Senator Harder, on March 7, 2017, I asked Minister Freeland about a slow bureaucratic process that is putting the future of the Inuvik ground station in the Northwest Territories at risk. Minister Freeland agreed that “this is a fast-moving sector where a lot of innovation is happening . . . there’s a real opportunity for Canada to play a leading role.”

We have attracted interest in this world-class facility from leading commercial space agencies in Norway, U.S.A. and Germany, as well as the European Space Agency. However, some of these entities initiated the licensing process for Inuvik in June 2016. Eleven months later and over two months after my exchange with Minister Freeland, these entities remain frustrated and the town of Inuvik stands to lose an important international investment and trade opportunity, which should be replacing the opportunities lost with the Arctic oil and gas moratorium.

Minister Champagne was mandated by the Prime Minister to position Canada as a top destination for global investment and promote our economic brand and to “improve supports to . . . Canadian communities looking to attract investments.”

I wish to ask him, through you, whether he would pursue this longstanding issue with his cabinet colleagues and, as his mandate states, “help reduce administrative burdens and complexity for investors”?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question and his advocacy on this issue. I would be happy to speak with the minister and seek a response.

Satellite Licensing Framework

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on May 17, 2017)

Under the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act (RSSSA), the Government of Canada licenses the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility, which includes important investments from Germany, Sweden and France.   Officials from Global Affairs Canada are assessing, as thoroughly as possible, two new license applications from foreign companies seeking to operate remotely via a facility in Inuvik. Though the Government of Canada cannot comment on the details of these specific cases, the licensing process for these systems is complex and must ensure that all pertinent national security and commercial issues are considered. Under this regime, companies are encouraged to engage during the early stages of planning a remote sensing space system. This ensures that all necessary licence application information is provided in a timely manner for this complex assessment and avoids having companies assume financial risk prior to any assurance that they can be licensed under the RSSSA.

Global Affairs Canada will continue to promote the innovative Canadian space sector and to provide the best possible service to RSSSA licensees and license applicants, while also ensuring the department meets its obligations to consider the impact of remote sensing activities on Canada’s national security and national defence.