Liberal MP Marc Garneau, who was Canada's first astronaut and led the Canadian Space Agency, is "ticked off" that he wasn't invited to Thursday's opening of a Canadarm exhibit and he blames Conservative partisanship for being left off the guest list.
"I'm not very happy," Garneau told reporters on Parliament Hill. "I wasn't looking for a role, I just wanted to be there in the audience."
The Canadarm, a robotic arm that was first used in 1981, was created in Canada and is considered a national icon. A newer version of the Canadarm used on the International Space Station is featured on the new $5 bill that was unveiled Tuesday. Astronaut Chris Hadfield showed off the new bill via satellite from the International Space Station where he is the commander.
Garneau operated the Canadarm on two of his three flights in space and said he always talks about those experiences with immense pride. The robotic arm, used for a variety of functions including satellite repairs, was used on 90 missions in space before NASA retired it in 2011.
Heritage Minister James Moore and Industry Minister Christian Paradis unveiled the new exhibit at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum Thursday morning and Garneau took to Twitter to express his disappointment that he wasn't there: "NASA-donated Canadarm officially unveiled in Ottawa today. Would really have appreciated invitation from Gov't to attend. No such luck."
Garneau said he is partly responsible for the Canadarm being on display at the Ottawa museum, which is why he is even more offended. The iconic piece of equipment was originally going to be kept at the Canadian Space Agency's headquarters near Montreal but when Garneau got wind of that plan he wrote and urged Paradis to consider the public museum in the nation's capital instead.
Urged Paradis to keep Canadarm in Ottawa
He was happy when the government changed its mind and said he thanked Paradis for the decision to move it to Ottawa where it would be seen by more Canadians.
"It's a source of great pride," Garneau said about the Canadarm. "I don't care if I was in the back row, I would have liked to have been there, so I'm very very disappointed."
Garneau said being left off the guest list shows how partisan Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is and that these kinds of events shouldn't be treated as political. Liberal MP Mauril Belanger, who represents the riding where the museum is located, wasn't invited either but attended the event once he heard about it through other channels.
Belanger told reporters he felt Garneau should have been there.
"I mean, come on. How many MP's have actually used the Canadarm in space?" he said.
The NDP also showed their support for the Liberal MP. Science and technology critic Kennedy Stewart wrote on Twitter that everyone was proud when Garneau became the first Canadian in space and he questioned why he wasn't invited to the event.
"I'm ticked off that this is the kind of atmosphere that we've created here in Ottawa. I think it's disgusting," added Garneau. He said the government was saying the CSA was in charge of the guest list, but the agency told CBC News it did not do the guest list.
Liberal MPs began chanting "Marc, Marc, Marc" when Moore answered a planted question in the House of Commons from a Conservative backbencher about the Canadarm display during question period.
"They can obsess about their caucus mates, we'll obsess about Canadian history," Moore retorted. "Today we had the unveiling of the Canadarm at the museum and we look forward to thousands of Canadians coming through that museum, seeing the Canadarm and seeing its amazing contribution to Canada's space history."
Reporters tried to ask Paradis, the minister responsible for Canada's space program, for comment after question period but he did not stop to answer questions.
"All the grains of sand in all the deserts can't compare to the number of ways I love you. #ValentineFromSpace"
"If you give wind and sand enough time together, they create art."
'The incredibly green lush wetness of the Amazon basin."
Someone Misses Starbucks
"These delicate cappuccino frosting decorations are, in fact, endless hummocks of Saharan sand."
'The Earth has problem skin; one popped, the other didn't."
It Totally Does
"Even as I took this picture I was thinking it will make a nice desktop background. And it does."
"Some fault lines are visible from space. Tectonic plates make a rift in the Andes."
"Tonight's Finale: Nature inspires awe - cloud, ice and rock in southern South America."
"Happy Alligator Lake, Mexico. I'm certain it has an official name, but that's what it looks like to me."
'Tonight's Finale: Haruna, a large and powerful tropical cyclone, wreaks clockwise destruction across Madagascar."
"This taffy-twisted African rock reminds me of a dolphin, and Alfred Hitchcock."
Freetown, Sierra Leone
"Freetown. A major west African port city, capital of Sierra Leone."
"I don't think that sand came from those rocks."
Haggis (Well, Not Really)
"This green Aussie lake somehow reminds me of a haggis."
"Glacial water burping into the Atlantic in deep Southern Argentina."
"Arid fingers of sand-blasted rock look like they're barely holding on against the hot Saharan wind."
"Mars is a very interesting planet, with its rugged, ancient surface. But this is Earth."
"Tonight's Finale: There is an undeniable beauty in human imagination. What do you see in this Saharan cloud?"
"Your perspective often dictates what you see. From here I see a puffball on an oyster half-shell. How about you?"
"Dragon skin. A bad place to take a walk, near the Horn of Africa."
"Tonight's Finale: The Himalayas to the horizon, gives me such a feeling of wild grandeur."
"Tonight's finale:You hear all about the man in the moon, but what about the man in Patagonia?"
"As I look at the verdant fjords and inlets of southern NZ, I ask myself can this possibly be real? Yet there it is."
"Where there's water, there's life. Serpentine river and center pivot irrigation farms in South Africa."
"A lot of the Australian Outback looks like somebody spilled something on it."
"Tonight's Finale: Asteroid impact - the Manicouagan Crater in Quebec. On old scar, but a big one at 100 km across."
"Split, Croatia, a fine natural harbor on the gorgeously rugged Adriatic coast."
"Cape Town, South Africa, the glinting sun highlighting the water."
"King George's Sound, Australia. Charles Darwin got off the Beagle and hosted a dance here in February, 1836."
Haruna From Feb. 21
"Eye of the Storm - Tropical Cyclone Haruna, today over Madagascar, with Canadarm2 pointing at the eye."
"Tonight's Finale: The full moon rises over the only planet we have ever called home."
"Mama Iceberg and her litter of baby ice cubes, slowly melting into the South Atlantic Ocean."
"The Outback is full of scary faces, staring up in forbidding horror."
"Tonight's finale: Northern Lights - recent aurora in green and red waves, USA and Canada below, the universe above."
"Clouds, shadows and sand, playing with my imagination."
"Earth has a bellybutton! My guess is that this perfect African circle is a meteor impact crater."
BONUS: Space Pajamas
"Weightless in my new space pajamas - made in Russia, very warm and comfy."
Next: The ISS On Twitter
<blockquote>Oil drilling draws a circuit board on the ochre landscape. pic.twitter.com/piYgOCsWYQ</blockquote>
<blockquote>Tonight's Finale: The Richat Structure. A giant gazing eye upon the Earth. pic.twitter.com/Uqv9JSh17b</blockquote>
<blockquote>An angry thunderstorm stands out against infinity. pic.twitter.com/du78qXnViK</blockquote>
<blockquote>Mt Etna, pouring heat and steam and smoke up through the snowcap. Earth never ceases to amaze. pic.twitter.com/xVjJ9oiwkW</blockquote>
<blockquote>Cloud over western Europe, rippled like water over a stone. pic.twitter.com/nlryEezlwh</blockquote>
<blockquote>Perth on the Swan to the sea, Western Australia. pic.twitter.com/MvrIuCs8eT</blockquote>
Chris Hadfield In Water
In this photo posted on Twitter by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on Jan. 7, 2013, the Greek Island of Corfu is shown. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press via NASA,Chris Hadfield)
RE-TRANS FOR HIGHER RESOLUTION - This Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013 photo provided by NASA, taken by Astronaut Chris Hadfield from the International Space Station, shows a view of the wildfire near Burrinjuck Dam in Australia. Look closely and you can see the flames from orbit. (AP Photo/NASA, Chris Hadfield)
In this photo posted on Twitter by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on Jan. 7, 2013, corn rows of sand, tightly sculpted by wind, heat and time is shown in Saudi Arabia. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press via NASA,Chris Hadfield)
In this photo posted on Twitter by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on Jan. 6, 2013, a Noctilucent Cloud, a rare super high altitude cloud barely visible from Earth, is seen at dawn in the mesosphere from International Space Station. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press via NASA,Chris Hadfield)
Newfoundland and Labrador, shot without zoom, is shown in a photo posted on Twitter by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on Jan. 7, 2013. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press via NASA,Chris Hadfield)
In this photo posted on Twitter by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on Jan. 5, 2013, the cities of Cleveland, Toledo, Ohio, and Detroit are shown. Hadfield is on a five-month visit to the space station and will become the first Canadian to take command of the giant orbiting laboratory in March. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press via NASA,Chris Hadfield) (AP Photo/The Canadian Press via NASA,Chris Hadfield)