The Canadian government on Thursday delayed for 30 days a decision on approving the sale of the space business of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to US company Alliant Techsystems (ATK). The $1.3-billion deal was announced in January, and Industry Canada had until Saturday to approve the deal, but exercised its right to extend that deadline 30 days. No reason for the delay has been given. MDA shareholders recently approved the sale by an overwhelming margin.
In the days leading up to the original deadline, various groups in Canada had expressed their opposition to the sale, concerned about giving up the country’s leading space technology company to foreign ownership. Two Canadian political parties not currently in power, Liberal and NDP, issued statements Thursday in opposition to the sale. A Canadian think tank, the Rideau Institute, issued a press release in conjunction with the Canadian Auto Workers (a union that represents some MDA employees) arguing that the sale could restrict Canadian access to RADARSAT-2 radar imagery because the MDA-owned satellite would now be under the control of a US company. Even the National Post, a newspaper that tends to be supportive of the ruling Conservative party, published a column opposing the sale earlier this week, drawing parallels to the decision 50 years ago to end the Avro Arrow fighter program.