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Opinion

Canada and space security diplomacy: getting back into the game

By Paul Meyer      

Despite the rapid expansion in the use of outer space and a disturbing deterioration in relations among major space powers, the Canadian government lacks a clear foreign policy for space security.

The Defence Policy Review outcome of June 2017, which contains a forward-looking section on Canadian Forces engagement in space, also pledges DND’s active support for Global Affairs’ diplomatic efforts to preserve space for peaceful purposes. It remains to be seen whether Canada will resume past leadership by developing and implementing such a strategy. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

There was a time when Canada was known for its activism on space security issues in the international arena. As an early adopter of satellite technology, Canada appreciated the importance of preserving a safe and secure operating environment in outer space. This acknowledged interest was reflected in Canada’s diplomacy. Among the measures that prime minister Pierre Trudeau advocated during his Peace Initiative of 1983-84 was a ban on high-altitude anti-satellite weapons recognizing the risk that the debris created by such weapons would pose for all space operations (a risk that has only increased significantly in the interim as use of space has grown exponentially with some 1800 satellites currently active).

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