Address on the upcoming anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique de Montréal tragedy
There are times when we would all like to go back in time and change the course of history.
We all wish December 6, 1989, was just another day at École Polytechnique in Montréal.
For those 14 brilliant young women who violently lost their lives, and for the other victims of that heinous, cowardly act we’re remembering today. Sunday will mark 31 years that we have remembered them.
31 years since Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz died an untimely death.
Unfortunately, we can’t change the past. But we can indeed change the future.
It is our duty not to forget the misogynistic nature of that anti-feminist act, which struck Montréal, Quebec and the entire country at the very heart of our values.
Women and girls in Canada, and around the world, should not be afraid of being successful, ambitious, or wanting a better future.
Equality between men and women is not negotiable. Now and forever.
No parent should have to mourn the loss of a daughter as they did 31 years ago in Montreal.
No family should have to hold each other in grief as they did in Portapique last April.
Mr. Speaker, the gun lobby doesn’t like it when we use the term “assault weapon”.
They say it’s a meaningless term.
Well let me tell you what is not meaningless: the lives of the people we have lost to these weapons.
Canadians know that there is no place in our country for weapons designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.
They know that these weapons were not designed to hunt deer.
That’s why, in May, we announced a ban on 1,500 models of assault-style weapons, including the Ruger Mini-14 used by the killer in Montreal on December 6, 1989. It is now against the law to buy or sell these weapons in Canada.
Furthermore, we will be moving forward very soon with legislation to implement the rest of our commitments to protect Canadians from gun violence.
We need to address violence no matter where it happens, in public or at home.
Women, girls, and people of diverse gender identities deserve to be safe, and to feel safe.
During the pandemic, Canadians have been asked to stay home wherever possible, to protect themselves and others.
It’s been difficult for everyone.
So, imagine how much harder it has been for those who don’t feel safe at home, but don’t feel like they have anywhere else to go.
It’s a simple fact: gender-based violence has been made worse by this pandemic.
That is unacceptable.
In the past months, we’ve accelerated investments in shelters and transition housing as we continue to advance on a National Action Plan on gender-based violence.
We’ve made important progress, but there’s always more to be done.
And we’re ready to do that hard work alongside advocates, volunteers, and all those who are fighting for change.
Mr. Speaker, in May, we banned 1,500 models of assault-style weapons, including the Ruger Mini-14 used in 1989 at École Polytechnique.
These weapons were designed to kill people, and they have no place in our society.
And very soon, we will table a bill in line with the rest of our commitments on this issue.
At the same time, while we continue to work toward curbing the circulation of these weapons, we must also go after the very source of this violence.
We have to be vigilant.
We have to fight misogyny, discrimination and hatred everywhere –online, at school, in the workplace, and any other part of our lives.
We have to put an end to this unacceptable violence and racism against Indigenous women and girls.
We have to provide a safe environment where everyone has an equal chance.
Today, the percentage of women studying engineering in many schools all over the country is higher than ever before.
That’s great, but I know we can do even better.
It’s important that we continue to take concrete steps to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in STEM fields.
And it’s important that we never forget why this is something to stand up for.
We owe it to the victims at École Polytechnique, and we owe it to all Canadians.
We must stay strongly committed to ensuring the safety of our communities and equality.
We must continue to stand side‑by-side with women and girls, minorities, survivors and allies fighting all forms of violence.
Mr. Speaker, life is fragile.
In recent years, there have been too many tragedies like the one at École Polytechnique that remind us of this.
Life is fragile, and that’s why we must ensure that our values are not.