With 28 years in the federal public service, Webster, 53, was named deputy
CEO of the firearms centre and chief firearms officer for the northwest
region last September.
The region includes the three prairie provinces and northern territories,
which refused to assist the federal government in implementing the program.
Before that, he was assistant deputy minister with Western Economic
Costs associated with the new gun laws should now come down ``and come down
substantially,'' he said. ``That's basically what I'm going to be working on
behalf of the government, to make that happen.''
Details about the deep spending cuts will be unveiled in August, when the
plan for a national registration drive is outlined, Webster said.
The Union of Solicitor General Employees said there were several hundred
layoffs of contract employees last spring as the licensing campaign ended.
There are nine people currently working in the centre's Edmonton office.
More layoffs at the RCMP's registry office in Ottawa, the New Brunswick
processing centre and at the eight chief firearm offices across the country
will occur this fall, said David Austin, the firearm centre's media
``We'll be able to accomplish what we need to accomplish by Jan. 1, 2003,
with a revised level of staff in the registry . . .,'' Webster said.
News of the cutbacks are accompanied by the revelation of Fraser's concerns
into unanswered questions about the firearm program's budget in the fiscal
year, ending last March 31.
Garry Breitkreuz, the Alliance party's firearms critic, has repeatedly
complained of being stonewalled by the department. He estimated total annual
spending could have topped $350 million in 2000, based on several access to
information requests which showed at least $110 million in supplementary
requests to Treasury Board for extra firearms-program spending.
Library of Parliament researchers and staff in the office of the Information
Commissioner have also been unable to get all the facts.
Webster said he was too new in the job to know the amount. Austin said bills
from the 2000 year are still coming in. However, Austin said $487 million
was spent on implementing the gun program the past six years. That's far in
excess of the $85 million former justice minister Allan Rock promised it
would cost in 1995.
The Justice Department has provided the Commons with a detailed breakdown of
the program's $34.9-million 2001 budget, but still refuses to make public
its allocation for 2000.