Canada's space agency employees worry about future

Chris Hadfield wires a condensate transfer pump aboard the International Space Station. The Sarnia-born astronaut will be commander for part of his five-month stay.



MONTREAL - While Chris Hadfield circles Earth on one of Canada's most high-profile space missions, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) sources told QMI Agency that they worry the country's space program's days are numbered.

Numerous sources at the CSA, which is headquartered just south of Montreal and employs 700 people, said the agency is slowly dying due to financial problems and a lack of federal government support.

The first Canadian in space and Liberal Party of Canada leadership candidate, Marc Garneau, told QMI Agency that he isn't surprised.

"There is certainly reason to be very worried," he said. "I saw that in 2009 when the president of the agency presented a strategic plan, it went nowhere (under the Conservatives)."

NDP industry critic Helene LeBlanc told QMI Agency that she also blames the Conservative government for the plight of the agency.

"We already noticed that there were job losses, expertise losses... It's a fault of direction of the Harper government and of the cuts to the agency over the past few years."

Industry Minister Christian Paradis told QMI Agency that simply because the agency is having some difficulty doesn't mean it's going to be shut down.

"On the contrary," he said. "The idea is to be more productive and to do more with the tools we have and we, as the Canadian government, are very engaged to do that."

In January, CSA president Steve MacLean resigned before the end of his mandate. Sources told QMI Agency that he quit because he was frustrated his projects weren't materializing.

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