The federal Conservatives aren't backing down from their pledge to scrap the controversial long-gun registry, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a Miramichi, N.B., audience Friday there will be "no loss of federal employment" in the area when it happens.
The prime minister told a packed arena that his government remains committed to abolishing the registry. In Miramichi, however, the promise takes on an added dimension from the typical debate over gun control.
More than 200 people in the northern New Brunswick city work at the Canada Fire Arms Centre.
There has been a concern that if the government follows through on the pledge, jobs will be lost in an area that has been hit hard by mill closures in recent years.
"There are many people who voted for our party with the firm expectation that we will end the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry," Harper said.
"At the same time you can be absolutely clear that we understand the economic challenges in this region and there will be no loss of federal employment in the Miramichi area as a consequence to these changes."
Harper sells new infrastructure funds
The prime minister was in New Brunswick to continue selling his federal budget and, in particular, one of the new infrastructure projects in his economic stimulus plan.
With local hockey players looking on, Harper outlined how his government will spend $500 million over the next two years to build recreational projects or upgrade existing facilities.
The prime minister, a hockey enthusiast, said many rinks across Canada are decades old.
"Like some of us, they are showing signs of age," Harper said.
Keith Ashfield, the minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and a New Brunswick cabinet minister, gave some new details on how the infrastructure project will roll out.
Ashfield said Ottawa will support up to 50 per cent of the projects and will be looking for the remaining funds from local governments, provinces or community groups. The projects will be funded through Ottawa's regional economic agencies, such as ACOA.
Ashfield said the $500 million will be spent on hockey rinks, soccer fields, tennis courts and other recreational infrastructure projects, based on each project's merit.
"In supporting the construction of new community recreational facilities and helping to restore our older structures, we will be generating new economic activities, employing the skills of our local and regional workforce and drawing on our local resources," Ashfield said.