Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener Colt Canada plant to produce Rangers' new rifles

Kitchener's Colt Canada plant will supply the next generation of rifles for the Canadian Rangers.
Associate Minister of Defence Julian Fantino (centre) poses with members of the Canadian Rangers at the Colt Canada plant in Kitchener. (Albert Delitala)

Kitchener's Colt Canada plant will supply the next generation of rifles for the Canadian Rangers.

Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino made the announcement at the plant on Tuesday. An initial $1.5 million contract will have the company supply enough rifles for the Rangers to test over the summer. Their feedback will then be factored into the final design, 6,500 of which will be produced.

"Ask [the Rangers] to tell you what they think because really we should be delivering to them the product they need in the circumstances we asked them to do their job," said Fantino.

The Rangers, who provide sovereignty patrols and help with search and rescue missions in Canada's northern and isolated coastal areas, currently use Lee-Enfield rifles dating back to the First World War. Replacement parts are increasingly hard to come by, a problem the new rifles solve.

The replacement will be bolt action, calibre .308 Winchester, and magazine-fed.

Contract won despite bankruptcy

The rifles will be manufactured between next near and 2019. The company says this ensures work for the plant's 95 employees and will create about 30 new jobs.

"It means a number of good jobs in a high-tech industry, said Harold Albrecht, MP for Kitchener-Conestoga. "We know from the fact [Colt Canada] was awarded the contract that the quality of the work they do is second to none."

Earlier this month Colt Defense filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. The company said it was part of a restructuring and would have no impact on business operations, including at its Kitchener plant.

"We're confident. We've done our homework," said Fantino. "Colt Canada is viable, it's progressing, and it's solid."

The government has yet to announce the value of the second contract for the full order of new rifles.

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