The Montreal Canadiens have issued a “sincere apology” after goaltender Carey Price posted a photo of himself with a gun on social media and a message in support of a gun lobby group that recently used “POLY” as a promotional discount code.
Price has said he knows nothing about the 1989 Polytechnique massacre or its upcoming anniversary.
Price published the post on Saturday, just days before the anniversary of the Dec. 6 massacre. In it, Price shared his support for a lobby group, the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR), following changes to the federal government’s gun control legislation, Bill C-21, last week.
The changes appeared to push the law further by including a range of firearms for hunting – a move that was quickly condemned by firearms advocates and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government was considering a fix.
“I love my family, I love my country and I care about my neighbors. I am not a criminal or a threat to society. What [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] trying to do is unfair. I support them [CCFR] to store my hunting tools,” Price wrote.
But the post also came a day after one of the Polytechnique mass shooting survivors, Nathalie Provost, denounced the CCFR for creating the promotional code “POLY,” which offers customers 10 percent off merchandise.
Provost, who is also a spokesman for gun control group PolySeSouvient, founded by massacre survivors, called the discount code “incredibly disrespectful.”
Provost was shot four times by the gunman, who killed 14 students and injured 13 others that day.
Team apologizes for mail
monday evening, price tweeted that he only made the Instagram post in response to the Bill C-21 changes.
“My views are my own and I believe them. The only reason I’m raising this issue is because it’s being raised now and not out of disrespect to anyone,” Price wrote. “No, I [don’t] I also agree to the promotional code.”
In a statement earlier in the day, France Margaret Bélanger, the president of Groupe CH, the company that owns the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team, said the group shared the negative reactions to Price’s post.
“He was unaware of the tragic events of December 6, 1989, nor of the Coalition’s recent marketing initiatives,” Bélanger told Radio-Canada in an email.
On Monday night, the team issued a statement on Price’s post.
“The Montreal Canadiens would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who has been offended or upset by the discourse that has taken place on this matter over the past few days,” the statement said.
The statement also recognized the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Violence Against Women – and said the team’s thoughts are with the 14 women who died 33 years ago, their families and survivors.
The team said it made a donation to the White Rose Week campaign to send 14 underprivileged girls to Polytechnique Montréal’s Folie Technique summer science camp.
Coach says timing unfortunate
Canadiens coach Martin St-Louis said the timing of Price’s Instagram post was unfortunate, but he didn’t think the player meant malice.
“I’m not sure Carey knows the whole story [of the Montreal massacre]. I remember it clearly; I was a boarder at Collège Notre-Dame. I was 14 and it really shook me up,” St-Louis told reporters Monday afternoon.
The private college is adjacent to the Université de Montréal campus, where the Polytechnique, the university’s engineering school, is located and where the mass shooting took place.
“I’m not sure people outside of Quebec know all about it. Carey is a sensitive guy, he’s a family man. I don’t think the post was made with malicious intent,” St-Louis added.
Price, 35, was born in 1987, two years before filming began. He grew up in a remote British Columbia community called Anahim Lake, a region inhabited by the Ulkatcho First Nation. Price has played for the Montreal Canadiens since 2005.
Controversial gun law
Regarding Price’s relationship with the firearms advocacy group, Bélanger said, “I think Carey is best placed to respond to that.”
Speaking in Ingersoll, Ontario on Monday, Trudeau tried to reassure gun owners by promising legislation will be reviewed to make sure it doesn’t target legitimate gun use.
He made the comments in response to widespread opposition to significant changes to Bill C-21, a bill originally drafted to ban handguns that Liberals are trying to change with a new list of long guns being banned.
It’s unclear whether or not the firearm Price is holding in the photo he posted is included in that list.
Block Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet said on Twitter that Price was convinced “that the purpose or effect of gun control is to harm hunting for the sport, which is wrong”.