The National Post article regarding the appointment of Walter Natynczyk, formerly head of the Canadian military, to head the Canadian space agency, hits the right notes. The only thing I can say is that the Canadian Space Agency is so small that, frankly, even a militarized Canadian Space Agency wouldn’t be notable globally.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed the country’s former top soldier to head the Canadian Space Agency in a surprise move that has raised questions about whether the civilian program is about to be militarized.
On Friday, Harper announced that former chief of defence staff Walter Natynczyk will become president of the Montreal-based space agency on Aug. 6.
[. . .] The appointment was unusual on two counts: Natynczyk had a long career in the military before he retired last year and his background was from the army, not the air force; and some of the previous presidents of the space agency had been astronauts such as Steve MacLean and Marc Garneau.
Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank, said in an interview that he thinks the appointment sends a troubling signal.
“It’s about the militarization of space,” he said.
“We’re moving from having astronauts heading our space agency to having generals heading it. I think that people should be asking questions about what the future of our space agency is going to be. And is it going to be more about military uses than scientific exploration.”
Staples said the military has been increasing its spending in areas such as satellite technology, and it’s important to note that two things have now occurred: Gen. Tom Lawson, formerly Canada’s top officer at NORAD, is now Canada’s top soldier, and his predecessor, Natynczyk, has come out of retirement from the military to head the space agency.