Thursday, August 19, 2010

Playing gun registry politics with jobs

Harper went to New Brunswick today in a fit of premature termination politics, already making plans for a post-gun registry world: "Payroll jobs for long-gun registry workers." A little presumptuous of the boss, don't you think? That gun registry vote comes at the end of September and it's not at all assured that Mr. Harper's bill to destroy the registry will pass. Nevertheless, he held an announcement/photo-op/members only deal today in New Brunswick, making plans on the assumption that it will:
The creation of a civil servant payroll centre in New Brunswick would provide employment for federal workers who face layoffs if the long-gun registry is abolished, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday.
Harper's announcement comes weeks before Parliament is set to resume debate of a Conservative private member's bill that would kill the registry, if passed.

It also comes days after the Mountie in charge of the federal firearms program was replaced, triggering accusations of political interference with the RCMP. Both the government and the RCMP have denied any political motivation in bumping Chief Supt. Marty Cheliak from the job. politics whatsoever with that Cheliak move. Just lots of organized spin surrounding it and a carefully choreographed Harper gun registry related announcement today, the day after. That's a bit of a coincidence.

What happens if the registry is maintained then? If the Hoeppner bill is defeated? Is the PM's payroll centre plan just going to be shelved? Hard to believe. Maybe this is part of an administrative destabilization of the Firearms Centre that's on the way. It would fit with the Harper-unleashed strain of politics that's on display of late.

Here's how reassuring the PM was about the job plan today, by the way:
Harper said the new centre would provide 550 jobs in the region. But he said that would be fewer payroll jobs in total than there are presently across the country.

He said the system would be more automated and that a wave of retirements are expected over the next few years.

"We will employ less people going forward than we're currently doing," he said. "But we will also create a workforce here ... that we anticipate will be a lot more stable than we have in some other parts of the country."
Got that? Job cuts overall. But the New Brunswick jobs will be more "stable" than in other parts of the country. Namely, Ottawa, which is slated to lose jobs. Taking from Peter to pay Paul, or something like that which really kind of undermines any notions of stability. And note that this payroll centre move, no doubt egged on by the prospective loss of the gun registry centre jobs, is all being done at a cost of $298 million which the Harper crew is touting as a long run cost saver. Uh huh.