Canada: Don't kill long-gun registry, Laplante Edward urges MPs

22 June 2010

My name is Suzanne Laplante Edward. You may have heard my name before, you may have seen and read me in the media. I am the mother of Anne-Marie Edward, who was savagely assassinated in the Polytéchnique massacre. I have been repeatedly travelling to Ottawa for 20 years now to defend the common sense of stronger controls on firearms. On Dec. 6, 1989, my life and that of my entire family plummeted into despair....

We have remained maimed by the loss, not only of our daughter Anne-Marie, but as well, of all the grandchildren she would have given us. We have never fully recovered from our loss. Every day, it requires tremendous moral strength to get on with our lives.

That historical day of Dec. 6, 1989, a man, armed with the hunting gun, Ruger Mini-14, precisely one of the guns the present government does not want registered, this man entered with impunity into an institution we have a right to consider sacred, a university, and cowardly assassinated 14 young women who had brilliant careers as engineers before them.

Firearms can kill not only bodies but equally souls. Our family was forever amputated. A few of Anne-Marie's friends did not fare so well ... 20 years later, they are still trying to put their lives together, still trying to recover from the shock.

The Polytéchnique tragedy did not, as is widely thought, make 14 victims. Thousands of people, men and women alike, have remained psychologically traumatized by the event. That is equally the case for the Dawson and Concordia tragedies.

The government is bending over backwards to comply to the wishes of the gun lobby. This government is in the process of abolishing the cornerstone of gun control in Canada: the registration of long, hunting guns. Put bluntly: the semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 hunting gun used to kill my daughter and her 13 companions in less than 25 minutes will become unregistered. Untraceable. Unknown to the police forces.

Each year, on Dec. 6, the whole Canadian population, and for sure, politicians of every conviction, wear the white ribbon, the symbol created expressly to commemorate the 14 Polytéchnique victims and all the women who are victims of violence. This takes more than white ribbons. The very day of Dec. 6 has been declared through a Canadian law: 'National Day of Commemoration and Action on Violence Against Women.'

If it is important to remember, it is more vital to act, to prevent further tragedies. And what does the present government want to do in terms of prevention? They want to put murderers in prison for a longer time. The gun registration is functioning amazingly well. Gun death tolls have decreased dramatically since its inception. The police forces are clamouring for it. They say it is a powerful tool to do their job. They claim to use it some 11,000 times a day. They say gun registration saves lives. Women's groups across the country, suicide prevention experts, and generally, the entire health community in Canada are saying they want and need it to curb violence and gun death.

MPs should know that the future of gun control in Canada is in their hands. Only MPs can avoid the disastrous dismantlement of the gun registry by the Conservatives, by voting against Bill-C-391. Suzanne Laplante Edward is the mother of the late Anne-Marie Edward who was killed at the École Polytéchnique on Dec. 6, 1989, by Marc Lépine who used a legally obtained a Ruger Mini-14 rifle.

Published June 21, 2010 and online at:

The Hill Times, Canada