Remembering the Ecole Polytechnique massacre
Published Tuesday, December 6, 2011 1:02PM EST
MONTREAL - Ceremonies were held in Montreal, Quebec City, and across Canada Tuesday to remember the 14 women killed on Dec. 6, 1989 at the Ecole Polytechnique.
At the school where the deadly attack took place 22 years ago, 14 white roses were placed in front of the plaque that bears the names of the young women who died.
White ribbons were also distributed at the school.
At noon women's shelters and the Quebec women's federation held a rally outside the Montreal Courthouse to denounce violence against women.
Yet even as people remember that deadly day, the Harper government is working to dismantle the long-gun registry that was created in response to those shootings.
Heidi Rathjen, who founded the Coalition for Gun Control after she was shot, had harsh words for the federal government.
"More people will die because there will be extremely easy access to firearms and that's why we can say the Conservatives will have blood on their hands," said Rathjen.
Dismantling gun registry
In Quebec City victims of crime attended a ceremony and pressured Quebec's politicians to legally challenge Bill C-19, the legislation that would scrap the long-gun registry.
The bill is expected to pass within the coming weeks, so survivors of Polytechnique are urging Quebec to file an injunction in federal court to prevent Ottawa from destroying the data in the contained in the registry.
Public Security Minister Robert Dutil has already been to Ottawa to try to convince the Conservatives not to destroy the information, so Quebec can maintain its own registry -- but he was unsuccessful.
If an injunction fails, Nathalie Provost, who was shot in the foot, leg, and had a bullet graze her head, says she hopes the Senate will have the courage to do what Conservative MPs will not do.
"If we can stop this bill, if we can ask the Senate, senators to stop bill C-19 ... I think this would be the better thing," said Provost.
She and other Polytechnique survivors are asking the provincial government to continue with its fight to save the data contained in the registry.
"I think we would like to protect the part of the registry that we have been paying for since 1995," said Provost.
Victims of crime say they are stunned that if C-19 passes people will be able to buy firearms without having to show a permit to the seller.
That's why Conservative MPs were not permitted to speak at a ceremony on Parliament Hill to mark this National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Opposition leaders Bob Rae and Nycole Turmel, as well as Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani, as well as Wendy Cukier, founder of the Coalition for Gun Control and Suzanne Laplante-Edward, whose daughter Anne-Marie was killed in the massacre, all gave speeches.
The long-gun registry has often been criticized by hunters and sports shooters, and others who denounced its high startup cost.
Tony Bernardo, spokesman for the Canadian Sports Shooting Association, was quoted in The Hill Times as saying that Polytechnique survivors who support gun control were being exploited.
"That's a terrible thing, it's a terrible, terrible thing to use these beautiful young women as a pawn in a game to advance a political agenda," said Bernardo.
On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine went on a shooting rampage at the Universite de Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique and killed 14 women.
During his attack he entered one classroom and told the men to to leave before he systematically shot every woman in the room. He then went through the school and continued to shoot women before taking his own life.
In all Lepine killed 14 women, and shot another ten women and four men.
In a suicide note that was never officially released Lepine blamed feminists for ruining his life. He also had a list of 19 women in Quebec that he wanted to see dead because of their feminism.