Rideau Institute, Auto Workers Seek Release of Information on MDA Sale


TORONTO/OTTAWA, March 30 /CNW/ – The Canadian Auto Workers union and the Rideau Institute publicly released a letter written by their legal counsel calling upon Industry Minister Jim Prentice to release information regarding the purchase of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ (MDA) important Canadian space information systems, including RADARSAT-2 and the maker of the Canadarm by U.S.-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK).

Citing procedures regarding “Third Party Representations” which are set out under the Department’s Guidelines – Administrative Procedures issued pursuant to section 38 of the Investment Canada Act, the letter calls upon the Minister:

  • to seek permission from ATK to release any undertakings the U.S firm made to the government in support of its application;
  • to describe steps taken by the department in evaluating the compatibility of ATK’s application with other Canadian government policies; and
  • which departments, provinces and territories have been consulted about the application, as required by the Investment Canada Act.

While the groups commend the Minister’s decision to allow more time to consider the consequences of approving the controversial sale of MDA, they remain steadfast in opposing the sale and cite a legal opinion by Steven Shrybman of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, that the “proposed sale is contrary to Canada’s interests and cannot reasonably be approved under the Investment Canada Act.”.

A full text of the letter is available below.

March 27, 2008

The Honourable Jim Prentice
Minister of Industry
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Prentice;

Re: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Proposed Sale to Alliant Techsystems

Further to our letter of March 20, 2008, we want to commend your decision to allow more time to consider the consequences of approving the proposed sale by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of certain Information Systems and Geospatial Services operations to Alliant Techsystems (ATK). As noted in our previous letter, it is the position of our clients, the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Auto Workers, that the proposed sale is contrary to Canada’s interests and cannot reasonably be approved under the Investment Canada Act (the “Act”).

In light of the opportunity this extension provides, we want to make additional representations to those we have already submitted to you and your colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

To begin with, we want to indicate in this regard that we are relying upon the Department’s Guidelines – Administrative Procedures (the “Guidelines”), issued pursuant to s. 38 of the Act, that contemplate unsolicited representations from third parties, and require these to be brought to the Applicant’s attention if “that could have an adverse bearing on the determination of net benefit.” Accordingly, as part of your review of this proposed sale under the Act, please consider this letter and our previous correspondence to be such third party representations. Moreover, as we are making our submissions public, there is no need to keep the source of our concerns in confidence.

This is also to advise of our intention to make further submissions, which we would also expect you to share with the Applicants.

For this purpose we are writing to request that you provide, or seek the right to share, the following information:

– undertakings made by ATK in support of its application; and any submissions it has, or will make, in response to our intervention. We understand that ATK’s consent is required for this information to be shared with us, and hereby ask that you seek that consent;

– a description of the steps taken by your Department to meet the obligations set out by s. 20(e) of the Act, which require that you consider “the compatibility of the investment with national industrial, economic, and cultural policies, taking into consideration industrial, economic and cultural policy objectives enunciated by the government or legislature of any province likely to be significantly affected by the investment;” and

– the policies you have considered and the federal departments and the provincial and territorial governments you have consulted as part of this “compatibility” analysis.

Given the tight timelines for your review, we would ask for your reply and the information we seek by April 4, 2008, so that we might formulate further submissions in time for these too to be shared with ATK for its reply.

For the sake of explaining both the direct and broader public interest our clients have in this matter we provide the following thumbnail description of these interests. We would be happy to provide you with a more complete description if that would be helpful:

The Rideau Institute is an independent research, advocacy, and consulting group based in Ottawa, with expertise in defence and space policy. The Rideau Institute provided expert testimony in 2005 to the Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on RADARSAT-2 and Bill C-25, which became the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act, and appeared in March 2008
before the Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology regarding the proposed sale of part of MDA to ATK.

The Canadian Auto Workers is the largest private sector union in Canada and represents MDA workers in Brampton, Ontario and St. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, whose interests would be affected by the proposed sale and should be considered in any analysis of net benefit.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Steven Shrybman