The Opposition NDP says the federal government should be moving ahead with plans to buy new rifles for the Canadian Rangers.
The Prime Minister first discussed the idea several years ago, but the procurement process has been bogged down and the new rifles for the patrol groups were not delivered last fall, as once promised.
New Democrat Defense Critic Jack Harris says finding a replacement for the old .303 Lee Enfield rifles should not be that difficult.
“We’re not talking about a fighting war here, we’re talking about a rifle that protects the Rangers and can protect people that they are with so the idea of being able to take out a polar bear or other predator I think is pretty important and that’s a part of survivability in the north”.
Harris adds that considering the many steps involved in the military procurement process, it could be another seven years before new rifles for the Canadian Rangers are actually deliver .
“They originally were supposed to get them last fall, that was cancelled back in 2011 and now the Prime Minister has given a date of 2016 but that seems to be relatively impossible and the most recent range of dates that has been given is 2017 to 2021”.
Harris says members of the Rangers have told him the most appropriate firearm for cold weather conditions would be a bolt action rifle in 7.62 X 51mm NATO calibre, also known as the .308.
American company Colt Firearms currently is the main supplier of firearms to the Canadian Army, but the company does not manufacture bolt action rifles.
Harris says patrolling the north plays an important role in Canada’s sovereignty and the Rangers must be properly outfitted to do the job.