Relatives of the victims of Canada’s worst mass shooting are urging NDP Leader Jack Layton to secure more votes to save the gun registry.
Joined by students and graduates of the Universite de Montreal’s Ecole polytechnique, the group gathered in Layton’s Toronto riding Thursday.
They called on the NDP leader to do everything he can — short of directing the votes of his caucus — to ensure New Democrats don’t help the Conservatives dismantle the registry.
Suzanne Laplante-Edward, mother of Anne-Marie Edward, one of the 14 women who died in the Dec. 6, 1989 shooting, pleaded with Layton to speak for those who couldn’t.
“The gun registry is the one good thing that came out of the Montreal tragedy. It is a monument to the memory of our daughters,” Laplante-Edward said.
“Guns kill not only bodies, but also souls. Our family will never be whole.”
Marc Lepine turned the gun on himself after his 20-minute rampage, which also wounded 13 other people.
The massacre prompted a toughening of Canada’s gun control laws.
Laplante-Edward, struggling to speak through tears, added she never really recovered from the loss that has also psychologically maimed thousands.
“Anne-Marie’s life will never be given back to her. She is dead. We are doing this for other people’s children.”
Laplante-Edward’s husband, Jim Edward, also spoke to the media — something he said he rarely does.
“We are talking about throwing away 20 years of advocacy,” said Edward, speaking softly.
The group posted a billboard in Layton’s riding, which shows the NDP leader standing next to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and asks, “Jack, are you really going to help this man destroy Canada’s gun control?”
In bold lettering it also reads, “wearing a white ribbon is not enough.”
Layton is the co-founder of the white ribbon campaign aimed at ending violence against women.
Hayder Kadhim, a survivor of the Dawson College shooting, also joined the group Thursday. Kadhim was shot three times, and still has a bullet lodged in the back of his neck, after Kimveer Gill opened fire on Sept. 13, 2006 at the Montreal college, later killing himself.
Anastasia De Sousa, 18, died in the shooting rampage and 19 others were injured.
The group’s call comes one week before federal MPs vote on a tightly contested private member’s bill to kill it.
The New Democrats allow MPs to vote as they wish on private bills, but Layton has said he’s mustered enough votes to kill the bill and save the registry.
On Thursday, northern Ontario MP Carol Hughes became the fifth New Democrat to publicly reverse her position and announce she’ll vote against the bill.
The registry requires gun owners to declare their rifles and shotguns.
Advocates say it’s valuable because it can be used to set conditions and restrictions on gun possession for people who have been charged with offences.
The Conservatives argue the registry is a billion-dollar waste that targets honest citizens while doing nothing to fight crime.