The strangest story came out of Miramichi, New Brunswick this week, that has many of us scratching our heads.
The RCMP has rumoured that the Conservative government is considering expanding the gun-registry office there.
So let me get this straight. They want to scrap the gun registry. Their supporters want it scrapped. Yet they are now announcing a possible expansion. What's up with that?
They must really want to make sure that Tilly O'Neill-Gordon hangs onto her seat, but has anyone told Garry Breitkreuz or Stockwell Day? They'll be wetting their pants.
However, for you gun totin' enthusiasts, don't hang up your holsters just yet. It's all smoke and mirrors. They are just contemplating (or at least pretending to) giving them a larger facility, but with no additional staff; and if they have their way, no reason to even exist.
Gun registry growth planned
The Miramichi Leader
July 13th, 2009
OTTAWA - You always hear rumours the gun registry is to be closed down, but how often do you hear it's going to actually get bigger?
But growth may be in store for the registry, said a spokesman for the RCMP last week.
"At this time, the anticipated in-service date for the new accommodation is summer 2011," RCMP Sgt. Greg Cox said by e-mail from Ottawa.
Cox said the RCMP is in talks with Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) to arrange appropriate space for the gun registry (the bathroom of the Howard Johnson's would be appropriate space), and are awaiting approval for such a project. He hoped it would come in the fall of this year, after which it will be easier to tell how things will go from there, including when tenders will be issued.
For the same reason, he said he could not estimate the cost of the expansion. He noted, however, no final decision to expand the centre has been taken yet, but the government identified a lack of space at the current location.
"The RCMP Canadian Firearms Program's Central Processing Site has been operating above the space capacity of its current location for some time now," he said of the need for a new centre.
The hoped-for expansion will just be to accommodate the current level of employees, and won't mean any new jobs. Cox said the RCMP and the government would work to ensure the expansion, if it comes, would have a smooth transition period with no change in service.
Attempts to reach Miramichi MP Tilly O'Neill-Gordon and Jo-Anne Dawson, the spokeswoman for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the gun registry workers, were unsuccessful Friday.
A few months ago Tilly O'Neill-Gordon said she believed Stephen Harper. Poor Tilly.
Gun registry jobs safe: MP
April 3rd, 2009
MIRAMICHI - With the Conservative government ramping up its efforts to scrap the federal long-gun registry by introducing a bill in the Senate earlier this week, the Tory MP for Miramichi says the 200 employees at the central processing centre for the registry here have no reason to be nervous.
Tilly O'Neill-Gordon said yesterday that she believed Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he pledged in February that no federal jobs would be lost in Miramichi in the event of the abolishment of the long-gun registry.
The processing centre in Chatham was established, in large part, to offset the job losses that came after the closure of Canadian Forces Base Chatham in 1994. All licensing and registration applications for the gun registry are processed at the Miramichi centre.
O'Neill-Gordon said that as the frontline processing site for the Canadian Firearms Program, she's been told that there's much more that goes on behind the tinted windows of the heavily-secured building than simple long-gun registration.
The rookie MP was one of only a select few who have been given a tour of the centre, and she said it's an impressive operation. "It was amazing to go and see; there are still lots of registrations to be done, we'll still be registering handguns, and I've been told that losing the long-gun registry would hardly make a dent."
"I have been assured by our prime minister that there will be no loss of jobs (silly Tilly), and I have also spoken to the CEO at the gun registry, and he felt there was enough work to keep everybody there," she said.
Statistics from the Canadian Firearms Program's most recent report, however, shows that the long-gun registry makes up the vast majority of guns registered across the country and, therefore, the bulk of the work for Miramichi employees.
The figures show that of the 7,313,247 firearms registered across Canada as of December 2008, 6,652,208 are of the non-restricted or, long-gun variety, which includes hunting rifles and unmodified shotguns.
With restricted and prohibited firearms, meanwhile -- including handguns, semi-automatic and automatic weapons -- only about 660,000 are registered nationally.
O'Neill-Gordon understands that Miramichiers have been burned multiple times in recent history, with thousands of jobs lost as a result of closures at area mills, CFB Chatham and, yes, even at the firearms processing centre earlier this decade.
She said the gun registry is a delicate topic on the Miramichi, a region that is home to a steady population of hunters who argue the registry targets recreational outdoorsmen and not criminals.
O'Neill-Gordon said she's been hearing arguments from both sides of the debate ever since she was elected to office last fall, and added that having the nerve centre of the much-maligned gun registry -- a steady, well-paying employer -- in a city with a passion for the outdoors creates a unique environment.
"I've got a lot of people at me to support the gun registry, (former Liberal MP Charlie Hubbard) supported it when he was here, but it's kind of like you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't."