Goal: Stop a foreign takeover and save union jobs, while protecting an important Canadian icon
In 2008, a U.S. arms manufacturer announced its intention to purchase a Canadian firm’s space division, including the well-known Canadarm and other satellite technology, including RADARSAT-2. The union representing workers who might have lost their jobs, the Canadian Auto Workers, teamed up with the Rideau Institute and allies to stop the government from approving the takeover. The coalition of scientists, experts, labour leaders, diplomats, and activists opposed to the sale argued that it would give a major U.S. company access to Canadian technology that could be used to militarize space.
We were up against more powerful, better funded lobbyists, but we were able to outmanoeuvre them. We were faster, we had better analysis, and our messages were tightly attuned to the various interests of the political parties.
– Steven Staples, interview with Peace Magazine
Working with its allies, the Rideau Institute team generated a legal opinion, written by Steven Shrybman of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell. This legal opinion was released widely, alongside various other expert opinions on the issue. We focused on sensitizing both the public and the media to the issue, in order to galvanize opposition political parties to oppose the sale, and to encourage the government to do the same.
Results: In a historic first, the Industry Minister disallowed the sale, to the dismay of the corporate community.
Later, lobbying efforts by the union generated increased federal support for the space firm, securing its members’ jobs.