The First Canadian In Space . . . Marc Garneau
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Joseph Jean-Pierre Marc Garneau, C.C., CD, Ph.D., F.C.A.S.I., MP (born February 23, 1949) is a Canadian politician, retired military officer, former astronaut, and engineer. He is currently the Member of Parliament for the riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie and the Liberal Party House Leader.
Garneau was the first Canadian in outer space taking part in three flights aboard NASA Space shuttles. He was the president of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2006, and in 2003 was installed as the ninth Chancellor of Carleton University in Ottawa.
In the 2006 federal election, he unsuccessfully sought a seat in the Canadian House of Commons in the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. Two years later he was elected in the riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie in downtown Montreal, winning by over 9000 votes. He was re-elected to House of Commons in the 2011 federal election by 642 votes.
Early life and career
Joseph Jean-Pierre Marc Garneau was born on February 23, 1949, in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.He attended primary and secondary schools in Quebec City and Saint-Jean. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering physics from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1970, and in 1973 received a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, England. From 1982 to 1983, he attended the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College of Toronto.
In 1974, Garneau began his career in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Navy combat systems engineer on HMCS Algonquin. He was promoted to Commander in 1982 while at Staff College and was transferred to Ottawa in 1983. In January 1986, he was promoted to Naval Captain and retired from the Navy in 1989.
Career with the Canadian Space Agency
Garneau was one of the first Canadian Astronauts and he became the first Canadian in outer space in October 1984. In 1984, he was seconded to the new Canadian Astronaut Program, one of six chosen from over 4,000 applicants. He flew on the shuttle Challenger, STS-41-G from October 5 to 13, 1984, as payload specialist. He was promoted to Captain in 1986, and left the Navy in 1989, to become deputy director of the CAP. In 1992-93, he underwent further training to become a mission specialist. He worked as CAPCOM for a number of shuttle flights and was on two further flights himself - STS-77 (May 19 to 29, 1996) and STS-97 (to the ISS, November 30 to December 11, 2000). He has logged almost 678 hours in space and is now retired as an astronaut.
In February 2001, he was appointed executive vice-president of the Canadian Space Agency, and became its president on November 22, 2001.
Garneau resigned from his employment with the Canadian Space Agency to run for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 2006 federal election. He ran in the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges which was represented by Meili Faille of the Bloc Québécois. Garneau was dogged by the sponsorship scandal, which dragged down most Liberal candidates in marginal Quebec ridings. He also made some controversial comments, arguing that Quebec separation should not be envisaged with the same haste as Iraq's invasion by the United States. In addition, he suggested that he would like to return to space along with sovereigntist leaders Gilles Duceppe and André Boisclair, arguing that they would probably become federalists, seeing the Earth without its artificial borders. This remark was ridiculed as political naivete by his Bloc opponents. In the end, a stronger-than-expected Conservative candidate siphoned away many federalist votes and Garneau lost to Faille by 9,200 votes.
He remained active in politics, supporting Michael Ignatieff's bid to lead the Liberal Party in the 2006 Liberal Party leadership election. He hoped to be considered for the Liberal candidacy for the Outremont by-election in September 2007, but was obliged to withdraw after being told by Stéphane Dion that the riding was reserved for another candidate. Soon afterwards, he announced he would depart from political life, citing Stéphane Dion's ambivalence as a main factor in his decision.
However, following the resignation of former Liberal deputy leader Lucienne Robillard, Garneau was nominated as the candidate for the safe Liberal riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie. Garneau was campaigning to contest in a by-election set for September 8, 2008. However, the by-election was cancelled when a general election was called. Garneau went on to win the riding by over 9,000 votes in the 2008 federal election.
Garneau was narrowly reelected in the 2011 election where he beat New Democratic Party candidate Joanne Corbeil. He now serves as Liberal Party House Leader. He was a candidate for interim leadership of the Liberal Party, but was ultimately defeated by Bob Rae.
Awards and honours
Garneau was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1984 in recognition of his role as the first Canadian astronaut. He was promoted the rank of Companion within the order in 2003 for his extensive work with Canada's space program.
He was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration for 12 years of honourable service with the Canadian Forces.
He is honoured with a high school named after him, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto and É.S.P. Marc-Garneau in Trenton, Ontario.
Garneau is the Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. In addition, no 599 Royal Canadian Air Cadets squadron is named in his honour.