I remember reading about and watching the Avro Arrow story and thinking that the government at the time committed treason against this country by completely destroying something that could have put us on the world map as a leader in aeronautics.

Well here we are again, the Tories continue the tradition that Diefenbaker left behind by sabotaging another industry. Canada was selected to build the next Mars rover, but the Tories said "no". Our engineers are already threatening to take their business south and we could lose our status of being a world leader in robotics. Thanks a lot Conservatives, looks like you really love this country... love it being nothing more than America's buttboy.

Ottawa won't back Canadian-built Mars rover
Last Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2006 | 4:47 PM ET
CBC News

The federal government has turned down a request by Canada's space industry to support a contract that would have allowed the companies to build the European Space Agency's Mars surface rover, CBC News has learned.

The decision stunned the companies and has left the ESA scrambling to find a new partner, as no European firm is adequately prepared to match the technical abilities of Canadian firms to build its ExoMars rover.

A computer rendition of the ExoMars rover, which the European Space Agency wanted the Canadian space industry to build for a planned mission to Mars by 2015.A computer rendition of the ExoMars rover, which the European Space Agency wanted the Canadian space industry to build for a planned mission to Mars by 2015.
(European Space Agency)

The ESA wanted Canadian space companies considered world leaders in robotics to build the rover for its planned exploration of Mars by 2015. The rover would have a far more sophisticated robotics package than the current U.S. platforms in use.

In July, the companies made an impassioned presentation to federal Industry Ministry officials for a clearer mandate for the Canadian Space Agency, which included making the Mars rover project its top priority, the CBC's Henry Champ told the CBC's Don Newman Thursday on Politics.

The project required no additional funding from Ottawa, but was contingent upon $100 million over 10 years from the existing CSA budget being redirected to the program by restructuring priorities and cancelling or postponing other projects, according to documents obtained by the CBC.

But just a few short weeks after the presentation, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier told the companies the government hadn't made up its mind about the future of Canada's space role and didn't want to go forward with the project.
The project had the approval of the United States, which also wanted Canada to continue its robotics role and had signed off on Canadian firms to design at least the robotics component on equipment and vehicles used on its planned mission to the moon in 2020.

Canada has never failed with any project it has handled for NASA, which has earned it the trust of the U.S. as it gathers international support for its space programs.
Firms fear brain drain

As with the ESA rover offer, which expired in September, Canada's role in the U.S. moon colonization program remains uncertain.

In the July presentation, the companies pleaded with the government to appoint a new president of the CSA to give leadership to the agency that they say is needed to defend Canada's future in space.

The position has been left vacant for more than a year after Marc Garneau resigned to run for the Liberals in the last federal election.

The rover decision has the companies threatening to take their operations south of the border, which observers fear could lead to a brain drain of Canadian designers and scientists similar to the one suffered in the wake of the abrupt cancellation of the Avro Arrow fighter-interceptor program in 1959.

After the Diefenbaker government axed the Arrow, many of the Avro Canada engineering and technical staff left Canada for the U.S. to become lead engineers, program managers and heads of engineering in NASA's manned space programs Mercury to Apollo, which led to the first man on the moon in 1969.

Read about the rover we had planned here: