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Ottawa ‘not satisfied’ sale of Radarsat maker MDA is in national interest

April 10, 2008, Ottawa - The federal government has served notice it is set to squelch the controversial sale of Canada's most famous space technology maker to an American armament company.


April 10, 2008
By Bruce Cheadle

April 10, 2008, Ottawa – The federal government has served notice it is set to squelch the controversial sale of Canada's most famous space technology maker to an American armament company.

Industry Minister Jim Prentice confirmed Thursday morning that he wrote to Alliant Techsystems Inc. on April 8 to advise the U.S.company that, "based on the information received at this time,'' he is not satisfied that the proposed sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. is likely to be of net benefit to Canada.

Minnesota-based Aliant has 30 days "to make representations and submit undertakings'' in an attempt to alter this position.

The most valued asset in the proposed $1.325-billion transaction is the Radarsat 2 satellite, which represents a Cdn$445-million taxpayer investment and decades worth of intellectual property development.

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MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates of Vancouver wants to sell its entire space technology division, including the Radarsat 2,Canadarm and Dextre, to Alliant, but the deal has faced growing unease over national security and sovereignty concerns.

Prentice had until April 19 to approve or reject the sale under the Investment Canada Act.
The Commons foreign affairs committee had unanimously agreed Tuesday to hold hearings on the proposed sale, criticized as asell-off of taxpayer-funded technology that is critical to the national interest.

The Commons industry committee has been hearing witnesses for weeks but Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier had side stepped the issue, even though he is the minister in charge of the Radarsat2, the most contentious aspect of the sale.

Alliant, with 17,000 employees and over US$4.1 billion in annual revenue, has its core business in conventional munitions and rocket motors, with a strategy to grow as a provider of advanced weaponry and space systems.

THE CANADIAN PRESS