pro-gun lobby group is facing widespread condemnation for its decision to hold a rally at the park commemorating the Polytechnique Montréal massacre, Canada's worst mass shooting.
The rally is planned for Dec. 2, just days before the 28th anniversary of the shooting, and aims to bring attention to what the lobby group calls "excessive firearm control."
Nathalie Provost, who has been a prominent advocate for gun control since surviving the Polytechnique shooting, said Tuesday the planned rally "shows a profound lack of respect for the families of victims."
POINT OF VIEW | Why we must never forget Polytechnique
The Place du 6-décembre-1989, a Montreal park commemorating the 14 women killed on Dec. 6, 1989, 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 as a turning point in 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."
A needless and cruel provocation. No matter the debate, no matter the argument, the families of Polytechnique victims should come first. May we always honour their memory. …
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Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux also condemned the move, but said it was within the group's rights to hold the demonstration.
Guy Morin, an organizer with the group behind the demonstration, Tous contre un registre Québécois des armes à feu (All against a Quebec gun registry), acknowledged the choice of location is controversial.
It was chosen, he admitted, to get attention.
He argued the Polytechnique shooting is unfairly used by gun control advocates to further their agenda.
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 believes a gun registry is a waste of money that should instead be devoted to hiring more police officers and addressing mental health issues. (Sudha Krishnan/CBC)
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 has right to move forward with gun registry, judge rules
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.
Polytechique 25 Anniversay 20141206
People gather at the memorial park every year on Dec. 6 to mark the anniversary of the Polytechnique massacre. (Ryan Remiorz/CBC)
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.
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