Canadian military history headed for the smelter
by Dennis E. Florian
Thank God we finally have our long-awaited Conservative Majority Government™! No more will we need to worry about wasteful grandstanding and disrespect for our military, like we saw in the Shawinnigan Strangler’s “we’ll pay a half billion to not have ’em” fiasco. Thank God we have a government now that not only respects our men and women in uniform, but also has the good sense to not piss away a buck.
The oh-so-much-better-than-the-Liberals Tories, who we worked our collective asses off to get elected, are now ready to take millions of dollars worth of our country’s military history and toss it into the smelter.
Here’s what I’m going on about: the Department of Defence is planning to take over 19,000 of the old Browning Hi-Powers that were made by Inglis in Toronto’s Longbranch more than 60 years ago, toss them into the smelter, and destroy them — instead of allowing licensed Canadian gun owners to buy them for hundreds of dollars each. Don’t believe me? Read more here (sorry about the French).
Well, ain’t that just Goddamned brilliant?
As some of you might already know, the Canadian Forces are replacing the old Brownies starting around the fall 2015. The decommissioned sidearms, Canada’s standard military issue pistol since 1944 and so familiar to anyone who’s ever served in the Forces, have been ordered melted down.
The price of used handguns swings around by a pretty wide margin in this country, but a price of $300 to $500 is a no-brainer for these pieces — and that’s excluding any military historical value any one of them might have. Assuming an average $400 for each of the Brownings (and I think I’m being a little stingy there), selling the surplus pistols to licensed owners and collectors could raise over seven million dollars in much-needed revenue that could be pumped straight back into new equipment for the perpetually cash-strapped Canadian Army (and it is the “Canadian Army” again, remember?).
But hell no; that’s just not part of the plan.
According to an e-mail on Friday from spokeswoman Josee Hunter: “The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces are committed to the safe disposal of firearms. The standard DND practice for disposing of restricted small arms is destruction through smelting.” Which, if you ask me, is just another way of saying, “we’ve always been dumbasses about it before, so why change now?”
But similar guns — yes, even brand new Hi-Powers — are already available in Canada to RPAL holders. And Hi-Powers produced in Toronto for the Brits, the Aussies, and plenty of other Commonwealth countries are also available on the used gun market in Canada, after having been sold off by the respective countries years ago.
“It just seems incongruous to me that something that is such a valuable piece of Canadian history would be unavailable to people who are lawfully allowed to purchase one,” said the CILA’s Tony Bernardo. “This is an incredible piece of Canadian history that shouldn’t be lost like this.” Captain Obvious strikes again.
The Hi-Power pistol dates back to 1935, when a Belgian chap named Dieudonne Saive tweaked an earlier John Browning design for military contracts in Europe. When the Nazis overran Belgium during WWII, Saive ran like hell for England and ultimately ended up in Toronto, where he recreated the designs for the Hi-Power from memory.
Then, in 1944, John Inglis and Co. (yeah, the washing machine guy) started cranking out Hi-Powers from their factory in Toronto for all the Commonwealth countries, while the Nazis continued production in Belgium. This has the historical significance of making the Hi-Power the only pistol used on both sides of the war.
Production ended in Toronto in 1946, but those 60+ year-old guns are still in use by the Canadian Forces today.
The forces’ new General Service Pistol — of which 10,000 are being ordered, even though the bureaucrats haven’t made up their damn minds about the model yet! — will be built by Colt Canada in Kitchener, Ont.