Pro-gun group backs off plans to rally at Polytechnique memorial
A pro-gun lobby group in Quebec says it is looking for another spot to protest after being roundly condemned for planning a rally at the park commemorating the 14 women killed at Montreal's École Polytechnique in 1989.
The rally planned for Dec. 2, just four days before the 28th anniversary of the shooting, aims to bring attention to what the lobby group calls "excessive firearm control."
Event organizer Guy Morin acknowledged Tuesday morning the original location for the event was deliberately chosen to spark controversy and get attention. His group opposes Quebec's plans to create a long-gun registry.
He argued the killings at École Polytechnique, Canada's worst mass shooting, are unfairly used by gun control advocates to further their agenda.
Morin now says the rally will go on, as scheduled, at a location that's still to be determined.
- POINT OF VIEW | Why we must never forget Polytechnique
Nathalie Provost, who has been a prominent advocate for gun control since surviving the Polytechnique shooting, said earlier Tuesday the planned rally showed "a profound lack of respect for the families of victims."
The Place du 6-décembre-1989, the Montreal park commemorating the 14 victims, has become a "place of peace and commemoration" for all victims of gun violence, said Provost, who was shot four times.
Observers have pointed to the massacre on Dec. 6, 1989, as a turning point in the history of gun control in Canada and the event that solidified Quebec's more restrictive attitude toward guns.
'Needless and cruel provocation,' PM says
Politicians were also quick to speak out against the planned protest.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said it showed a "lack of judgment" and "lack of respect towards the victims of this tragedy and all women victims of violence."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a "needless and cruel provocation."
Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux also condemned the move but said it was within the group's rights to hold the demonstration.
Fewer than 100 people have said they plan to attend the rally on the Facebook event page. The group, though, has roughly 25,000 members on Facebook.
Dominique Duchesne, who plans to attend, said being a gun owner in Quebec can feel "taboo."
Registry still needed, advocate says
In Provost's view, however, there remains more to be done to curtail gun violence in Canada, especially since the federal long-gun registry was abolished in 2012.
Quebec is in the midst of establishing its own long-gun registry. Last month, a Quebec Superior Court judge rejected an attempt by the National Firearms Association to halt the registry's creation.
Louise de Sousa, whose daughter Anastasia was killed during a 2006 mass shooting at Dawson College, said she hopes the registry will be completed soon.
Like Provost, de Sousa said anti-gun control groups have a right to express their views, but the memorial park isn't the right place to do it.
"There's certain ways of doing it," she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.
While Provost and de Sousa said they have no plans to show up at the rally to protest, a counter-demonstration is being organized for Saturday.
"May we protest silently with candles to keep their memory alive, so that such a tragedy does not happen again," the event page says.