Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took to social media again on Tuesday to clear the air about his recent comments in support of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR), stating that he did indeed know about the 1989 École Polytechnique shooting, and apologizing for upsetting those affected by the tragedy.
"Despite a previous statement released, I did in fact know about the tragedy," he wrote in an Instagram story. "I have been a member of the [Montreal] community for 15 years and I understand the weight this day holds within the community.
"I acknowledge that amplifying any conversation around guns this week may upset some of those impacted most by the events here in 1989 and to them I apologize."
Canadiens president of sports and entertainment France-Margaret Bélanger told Radio-Canada on Monday that Price did not know about the shooting and was not aware of the CCFR's controversial marketing campaign. Montreal put out a statement late Monday saying Price was unaware of the poor timing of his pledge of support to the CCFR.
On Sunday, the long-time Montreal Canadiens star made a post on Instagram opposing Bill C-21, new gun control legislation introduced by the Liberal government in Canada.
“I love my family, I love my country and I care for my neighbour. I am not a criminal or a threat to society,” Price wrote on Instagram, along with a picture of himself in camouflage holding a shotgun. “What (Justin Trudeau) is trying to do is unjust. I support the (Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights) to keep my hunting tools. Thank you for listening to my opinion.”
Price’s post drew heavy criticism for his support of the CCFR, only days after the organization publicized a promotional code “Poly” on their website for merchandise sales. The code was a reference to the tragic École Polytechnique massacre that occurred in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. The massacre saw 14 women murdered and another 10 women injured in the mass shooting targeting women.
Tracey Wilson, a firearm rights coalition spokesperson, clarified the promotion was not making light of the tragedy, but was a response to gun-control group PolySeSouvient's Twitter account, which has referred to coalition supporters as gun trolls.
"We want a reduction to crime, violence and gun smuggling — they want a reduction in legal gun ownership," Wilson said, per the CBC.
PolySeSouvient is a leading gun-control group that includes graduates and students of the school and families of the victims. The group's spokesperson is Nathalie Provost, who was shot four times during the massacre.
In response to the CCFR’s promotional code, Polytechnique Montreal tweeted a statement admonishing the organization.
“Polytechnique Montréal denounces the use of an inappropriate promotional code - On the eve of the 33rd anniversary of the feminicide of December 6, 1989, Polytechnique Montréal was greatly dismayed and deeply saddened to learn of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights’ initiative to use the promotional code “Poly” to promote the purchase of merchandise on its website,” the school wrote. “We see this exploitation of a tragic event not only as a very tasteless provocation, but above all as an insult to the memory of the victims, as well as those injured, their families and the entire Polytechnique community.”
According to the government of Canada, Bill C-21 is “A comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and strengthen gun laws in Canada” and “proposes a number of amendments to the Criminal Code, the Firearms Act, and other federal legislation that seek to fulfill the Government of Canada’s commitments in relation to gun control and to protect Canadians from firearms-related harm.”
Critics, however, claim the new legislation, specifically, last-minute amendments proposed after the Bill had passed the second reading in parliament, will target hunting rifles and guns used by farmers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to those claims at an event in British Columbia saying, “While we will always respect the rights of law-abiding hunters and farmers to use shotguns and rifles, there are certain guns that have no place in our communities, no place anywhere in Canada."
Despite this, hunters including the Montreal Canadiens netminder are pushing back against the legislation, which Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said is part of “a plan to eradicate gun violence once and for all.”
In an email to La Presse, Mendicino's press officer Audrey Champoux clarified that the gun held by Price in his Instagram post is not outlawed and will remain legal if the bill passes.
Price, who during his career won an Olympic gold medal, as well as the NHL’s Vezina, Hart, Ted Lindsay, and Bill Masterton trophies, has received public support from opposing politicians including Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.
“Carey is absolutely right,” Poilievre wrote on Twitter referencing Price’s post. “Hunting is a great Canadian tradition. Trudeau’s attempts to ban hunting rifles are an attack on rural and Indigenous people. We must stop him.”
Price, who did not bring up his First Nation identity in his own post, is Indigenous. His mother Lynda, is the Chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
While Price received support from some Canadian politicians, others presented rebuttals to his post in support of the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights.
"Carey Price… and so many others have been convinced that gun control has the purpose or effect of harming sport hunting. It's wrong,” Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet’s translated Tweet said. “The (Bloc Quebecois) encourages sport hunting and the tourist/economic activity it generates in our regions.”
The 35-year-old Price appeared in only five NHL games during the 2021-22 NHL season, but has been unable to return to the NHL following knee surgery. In October, Price stated he does not plan to retire immediately despite remaining unable to train at a professional level; rather he is focusing on pain-free living.
Bill C-21 remains at consideration in the committee stage in the House of Commons.
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