Canadiens goaltender Carey Price didn't know about Polytechnique mass shooting, team says
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price didn't know about the 1989 Polytechnique massacre that killed 14 women and wounded several others, according to statements made to Radio-Canada.
The statement from France Margaret Bélanger, president of Group CH, which owns the Montreal Canadiens, comes two days after the player spoke out on social media against proposed federal gun-control legislation.
- READ THE LATEST HERE: Habs star Carey Price says he was aware of Polytechnique shooting, despite previous comments
Price's post on Instagram also came on the heels of public backlash from gun-control groups and survivors who accused a national gun rights organization, the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR), of using the tragedy to sell merchandise on its website with the promo code "POLY."
Bélanger told the broadcaster in a written statement that Price, who has been with the team for the past 17 years, "was not aware of the tragic events of December 6, 1989, or the coalition's recent marketing initiatives."
"That said, when we saw his publication, we brought the reactions to his attention," Bélanger told Radio-Canada.
The Habs executive did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CTV News on Monday.
Since 1989, the shooting is remembered every December.
On Saturday, the star goalie posted on Instagram a photo of himself holding a shotgun. The caption under the photo said, "I love my family, I love my country and I care for my neighbour. I am not a criminal or a threat to society. What @justinpjtrudeau is trying to do is unjust. I support the @ccfr_ccdaf to keep my hunting tools. Thank you for listening to my opinion."
FIREARM IN PRICE PHOTO 'WILL REMAIN LEGAL,' GOVERNMENT SAYS
Following heated reaction on both sides of the debate, Price said on Twitter, "The only reason I bring up this issue is because it is what’s being brought up now and not out of disrespect to anyone."
"No, I did didn’t agree with the promotional code either," he added.
"I continue to stand beside my fellow hunters and sport shooters who have legally acquired our property and use in a safe manner."
Opponents of gun control praised the Habs player for defending responsible gun owners who fear the federal government is going too far with its new bill.
Quebec's federation of hunters and anglers said the criticism of C-21 is partly because hunters across Canada didn't expect new restrictions that would outlaw hundreds of hunting rifle models, with conflicting definitions of what constitutes an assault rifle.
"C-21 was supposed to address public security issues," said Stéphanie Vadnais, interim director-general of the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs. "Then, all of a sudden they throw in amendments that target certain hunting riffles."
However, Price also came under fire for his post, which some said was misinformed and promoting a group that ran a promotion that was done in poor taste.
The federal Ministry of Public Safety confirmed to CTV on Monday that the gun seen in the photo posted by Price would not, in fact, be targeted by the proposed gun law.
"To begin, the firearm pictured in the Carey Price’s publication is not currently banned and will remain legal," wrote ministry spokesperson Audrey Champoux in an email.
"Bill C-21 is designed to target AR-15 type firearms that were designed for the battlefield and have no place in our communities. These are the types of firearms that have claimed lives in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario. Our legislation does not target firearms commonly used for hunting and we fully respect the traditions of hunters and Aboriginal peoples."
Late Monday night, the Montreal Canadiens issued an apology on Twitter.
"The Montreal Canadiens wish to express their sincere apology to any and all who have been offended or upset by the discourse that has arisen over this matter in recent days," part of the statement read.
The Habs goalie drew the ire of survivors of the Polytechnique shooting, including Nathalie Provost, who was shot four times in the attack.
"These comments add confusion to a very complex debate. So I'm very sad that he did it because he's a real Canadian symbol and people love him and believe in this guy," said Provost, a vocal advocate for gun regulation.
GUN GROUP DENIES USING MASSACRE TO SELL ONLINE MERCH
The CCFR denied the 10 per cent POLY promo code, which is no longer active, was in reference to one of Canada's deadliest mass shootings.
"Concerning the discount code controversy: Our promocode was in no way a reference to the tragedy at Ecole Polytechnique. It was a two-week-old response to a Twitter account criticizing us for fundraising. Any suggestion to the contrary is blatantly false," the organization wrote in a statement on its website Monday, one day before the 33rd anniversary of the mass shooting, one of the deadliest in Canadian history.
Gunman Marc Lepine, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, committed the femicide at the Montreal engineering school, openly targeting "feminists" as his victims.
If passed, Bill C-21 would tighten legal access to handguns, as well as refine the definition of prohibited assault-style firearms.
It's this latter amendment, introduced in late November, that has drawn the ire of Canadian hunters -- Carey Price among them -- who say the definition would outlaw weapons used within their practice.
For example, Conservative Public Safety Critic Raquel Dancho has particularly objected to the inclusion of the Simonov SKS, a semi-automatic rifle she says is commonly used by Indigenous hunters.
Price's grandmother is a residential school survivor and his mother, Lynda Price, is the Chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation.
The Liberals have repeatedly stated their intention is not to go after hunters but to restrict certain firearms designed for the "battlefield."
The measure would build on a 2020 regulatory ban of over 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style firearms, such as the Ruger Mini-14 -- the weapon used in the 1989 Polytechnique shooting.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a press conference in Ontario that he is listening to "a lot of feedback around concerns" about C-21 coming from hunters as parliament is studying the proposed law.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Montreal's Lilly Roy and Stéphane Giroux
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