Dr. Marc Garneau

Dr. Marc Garneau, C.C., C.D., Ph.D., P. Eng., LL.D., FCASI (born: 02/23/49) was the first Canadian in space.  He has taken part in three flights aboard NASA space shuttles. He was the president of the Canadian Space Agency until he entered politics as the Liberal candidate in the Montreal area constituency of Vaudreuil-Soulanges for the 2006 federal election.

Dr. Garneau was born in Quebec City and was educated there and in London, England.  He gained a degree in engineering physics at the Royal Military College of Canada (1970), and Ph.D. from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London (1973).

Dr. Garneau joined the Canadian Navy in 1965 and became a Combat Systems Engineer.  He first served aboard HMCS Algonquin (DDH 283) from 1974 until 1976. From there he became an instructor with the Canadian Forces Fleet School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He worked at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa from 1977 to 1980 and with the Naval Engineering Unit from 1980 to 1982. He was promoted to the rank of Commander in 1983.

Astronaut and Space Agency career

In 1984 Dr. Garneau was seconded to the new Canadian Astronaut Program (CAP), one of six chosen from 4,000 applicants. He flew on the shuttle Challenger (mission STS-41-G) as a payload specialist from October 5 to 13, 1984. He was promoted to rank of Captain in 1986 and left the Navy in 1989 to become Deputy Director of the CAP.

In 1992-93 Dr. Garneau 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 –  mission STS-77 (May 19 to 29, 1996) and mission STS-97 to the International Space Station (November 30 to December 11, 2000).  He has logged almost 678 hours in space and is now retired as an astronaut.

Public Honours and Awards 

In 1987 a Toronto High School in the East York district was renamed Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in his honour.  He maintains an active role with the school and its alumni association helping with fundraising for scholarships for post-secondary education.  He also has another school named after him in Trenton, Ontario – École Sécondaire Marc Garneau. In addition, No. 599 Royal Canadian Air Cadets squadron is named in his honour.

In 1988 Dr. Garneau was named an Honourary Member of the Canadian Society of Aviation Medicine.  In addition, he is National Honourary Patron of Hope Air and Project North Star, Honourary Captain of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and a past President of the Board of the McGill Chamber Orchestra.

In 2001 he was appointed Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Space Agency and became its President in November of the same year. In 2003, Dr. Garneau was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour (he was appointed as an Officer in 1984).

Dr. Garneau was installed as the ninth Chancellor of Ottawa’s Carleton University in 2003. Along with this honour, he has received honourary doctorates from York University (2002), University of Lethbridge (2001), University of Ottawa (1997), Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean (1990), Université Laval (1985), Technical University of Nova Scotia (1985), and the Royal Military College, Ontario (1985).

He is also the recipient of numerous other honours including, the 2006 Gold Medal Award from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers; the Prix Montfort en sciences (2003); Golden Jubilee Medal of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (2002); NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1997); NASA Space Flight Medals (1984, 1996, 2000); the Canadian Military Decoration(1980); and the Athlone Fellowship (1970).

Political life 

Dr. Garneau resigned as President of the Canadian Space Agency on November 28, 2005 to run for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 2006 federal election in the Montreal area riding of Soulanges. Although he was unsuccessful on his first attempt at political office he remained active in politics.

When a by-election was called for the Montreal riding of Westmount-Ville Marie in September 2008, Dr. Garneau was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate. The by-election was cancelled when the general election was called for October 14, 2008. He won his riding handily and ran for re-election in the 2011 general election held on May 2nd. He was re-elected and has served as House leader for the Liberal Party and Liberal critic for Natural Resources. He is currently the Liberal critic for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and La Francophonie.

Dr. Garneau is married to Pamela Soames and together they have two children, Adrien and George. The family lives in Westmount, Quebec where they enjoy an active life in the community.

Dr. Marc Garneau on the Web (external links):