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He is Canada’s first astronaut, and one of its most prominent citizens. Marc Garneau would fly higher than any Canadian to that time, and cement himself in Canadian history.
Born on Feb. 23, 1949 in Quebec City, he would earn a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1970, followed by a doctorate in Electrical Engineering in 1973 from the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London.
Beginning one year later, he would enlist with the Royal Canadian Navy and serve as a combat systems engineer on the HMCS Algonquin. Eight years later, he was promoted to commander and transferred to Ottawa one year later.
While he would go on to serve in the space program, he would be promoted to captain in 1986 and would retire from the navy for good in 1989.
In 1984, he was one of six candidates chosen out of 4,000 for the new Canadian Astronaut Program. In October of that year, from Oct. 5 to 13, he flew as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Challenger. He would become, as a result, the first Canadian in space.
This would not be a one-off trip for Garneau. He would return on two more shuttle flights, flying from May 19 to 29, 1996 and flying to the International Space Station and remaining there from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2000. In all, he would log 677 hours in space.
One year later, he was made the executive vice-president of the Canadian Space Agency and would take over as its president on Nov. 22 of that same year.
Five years later in 2006, he would resign from the Canadian Space Agency and run for the Liberal Party of Canada. Unfortunately, despite his name recognition, he would lose by 9,000 votes.
In 2007, not giving up on his political career, Garneau filed nomination papers to run as the Liberal candidate in the Westmount-Ville-Marie riding. One week later, Dion announced he had already hand-picked a candidate for that riding and Garneau withdrew his nomination. He stated at the time he had no interest in politics anymore. A few months later, it was announced that Garneau was going to be the candidate for the party.
In 2008, he ran for the Liberal Party in that riding and defeated his NDP challenger by 9,000 votes, becoming a Member of Parliament.
He would win again in 2011, this time by a much smaller margin, and would serve as the Liberal House Leader and the Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic.
In 2015, Garneau was once again re-elected in his riding and would become part of the ruling party of Canada with the Liberal Party’s majority win. On Nov. 4, 2015, he would be appointed as the Transport Minister of Canada.
Garneau is an Officer of the Order of Canada after he was appointed as one in 1984. He was given the honour for his role as the first Canadian astronaut. He was also awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration for his 12 years of service, and he has a high school named after him in Toronto. He is the Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, and the 599 Royal Canadian Air Cadets are named in his honour.
In 1984, he was given a key to the City of Ottawa.