If there is one aspect that highlights a forward-looking modern economy, it is the importance a government attaches to innovation, research and science. It is the basis for building long-term prosperity, creating economic wealth and preparing the best talent for the changing world. Québec’s Strategy for Research and Innovation (2010-2013) just got an added boost with the recent nomination of its scientific delegate, astronaut Julie Payette.
Ms. Payette was chosen by the Canadian Space Agency as an astronaut in 1992 and went to join NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1996. As the saying goes, the rest is history. She took part in two space missions, Discovery and Endeavour in 1999 and 2009 respectively. She was chief astronaut at the Canadian Space Agency from 2000-2007. Through it all, Ms. Payette has built a solid reputation of achievement and is considered among Canada’s most admired and respected public figures.
Joining the Québec scientific team and working out of Québec's Washington bureau provides Ms. Payette with the opportunity to promote Québec’s strategy and its scientific policy, build international partnerships and alliances in the U.S. and beyond with Québec research-based organizations, and also make known Québec’s progress in many scientific fields. Furthermore, and in conjunction with Québec’s Laval University, she will promote and develop alliances with Laval’s Arctic Net which studies the impact of environmental change in the Canadian Arctic.
All in all, it is a mandate that in itself innovates and provides opportunities to advance in many areas considered to be important to Québec’s economy. She will also focus on her specialty, the aerospace sector. This sector in Québec has over 225 businesses and over 200 suppliers, nearly 40,000 jobs and 70% of Canadian R&D in the sector occurs in the greater Montréal region.
On a more personal level, I have come to know Julie Payette. She is an inspiration to young people in Québec and across Canada. She is always available to speak about the value of education and the importance of science. In addition to her impeccable qualifications, she is a person dedicated to preparing the next generation. Bienvenue Julie!