Ex-Quebec premier Jean Charest to pilot space industry relaunch plan

Canada's aerospace industry has appointed former Quebec premier Jean Charest to chart a new course for the industry.

The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada is putting Charest in the cockpit to coax funding commitments and a long-term plan from the federal government amid fears the country's star is fading.

Association president Jim Quick says Canada is not keeping up with sector growth and innovation compared with countries such as France, Germany and the United States, which he says have long-term strategies in place.

Quick says the new initiative, called Vision 2025, will push Ottawa to include a long-term aerospace plan in its budget next year, alongside a commitment to provide advanced robotics for the Lunar Gateway, described as a third-generation Canadarm.

Charest will lead discussions with government and industry officials in several cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax, culminating in a report on aerospace priorities. Charest, a former federal cabinet minister, says he wants the industry to continue ``to succeed in the face of global risk and uncertainty.''

Canada's investments in aerospace as a percentage of GDP have dropped to 18th globally from eighth place in 1992, according to the association. The sector's manufacturing employment has fallen by five per cent since 2012.