Price apologizes, says he did know about Polytechnique shooting
Habs goalie says he did know about the massacre after team said he did not
The Montreal Canadiens organization and goalie Carey Price have issued apologies after Price posted a message on social media in support of a gun lobby group that recently used "POLY" as a promotional discount code.
The team issued a statement on Monday that Price didn't know about the 1989 Polytechnique Massacre or its upcoming anniversary.
However, Price said Tuesday said he did know about the massacre and regretted the timing of his post.
Price published his initial Instagram post on Saturday, just days ahead of the massacre's Dec. 6 anniversary. In it, Price shared his support for a lobby group, the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR), following amendments to the federal government's gun control legislation, Bill C-21, last week.
The amendments appeared to push the bill further by including a number of firearms used for hunting, a move that was swiftly condemned by firearm advocates and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is looking into rectifying.
Price, 35, has spoken in the past about the importance of hunting to him. He is a member of Ulkatcho First Nation — his mother is a former chief — and grew up in the small remote community of Anahim Lake in British Columbia.
"I love my family, I love my country and I care for my neighbour. I am not a criminal or a threat to society. What [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] is trying to do is unjust. I support the [CCFR] to keep my hunting tools," Price wrote.
But the post also came a day after one of the survivors of the Polytechnique mass shooting, Nathalie Provost, denounced the CCFR for creating promotional code "POLY" offering customers 10 per cent off of merchandise.
Provost, who is also a spokesperson for the gun-control group PolySeSouvient, created by survivors of the massacre, called the discount code "incredibly disrespectful." The code was in reference to the group.
Provost was shot four times by the gunman who killed 14 female students and injured 13 others that day.
Team apologizes for post
Monday evening, Price tweeted that he only made the Instagram post in reaction to the Bill C-21 amendments.
"My views are my own and I do believe them. The only reason I bring up this issue is because it is what's being brought up now and not out of disrespect to anyone," Price wrote. "No, I [don't] agree with the promotional code either."
In a statement earlier in the day, France Margaret Bélanger, the president of Groupe CH, the company that owns the Montreal Canadiens hockey team, said the group had shared negative reactions to the post with Price.
"He was not aware of the tragic events of Dec. 6, 1989, nor of the coalition's recent marketing initiatives," Bélanger told Radio-Canada in an email.
Monday evening, the team issued a statement on Price's post.
"The Montreal Canadiens wish to express their sincere apology to any and all who have been offended or upset by the discourse that has arisen over this matter in recent days," the statement said.
The statement also recognized the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women — saying the team's thoughts are with the 14 women who died 33 years ago, their loved ones and survivors.
The team said it made a donation to the Week of the White Rose campaign to send 14 underprivileged girls to Polytechnique Montréal's summer science camp, Folie Technique.
On Tuesday, Price posted an update to his Instagram page.
"I think the people of Montreal know my heart and my character and know I would never intentionally cause pain to those impacted by gun violence," he wrote.
"Despite a previous statement released, I did in fact know about the tragedy. I have been a member of the MTL community for 15 years and I understand the weight this day holds within the community."
Price said he stood by the opinions he shared but acknowledged that "amplifying any conversation around guns this week may have upset some of those impacted most by the events here in 1989 and to them I apologize."
Coach says timing unfortunate
Canadiens coach Martin St-Louis said the timing of Price's initial Instagram post was unfortunate but that he did not believe the player meant any malice by it.
"I'm not sure Carey knows the full story [of the Montreal massacre]. I remember it clearly; I was a boarding student at Collège Notre-Dame. I was 14 and it really shook me," St-Louis told reporters Monday afternoon.
Statement from the Montreal Canadiens <a href="https://t.co/JoVuiSvR75">pic.twitter.com/JoVuiSvR75</a>—@CanadiensMTL
The private college is next to the Université de Montréal campus where Polytechnique, the university's engineering school, is and where the mass shooting took place.
"I'm not sure people outside of Quebec know all about it. Carey's a sensitive guy, he's a family guy. I don't think the post was made with malicious intentions," St-Louis added.
Contentious gun control legislation
As for the relationship between Price and the firearms advocacy group, Bélanger said, "I believe Carey is best positioned to answer that."
Speaking in Ingersoll, Ont., Trudeau attempted to reassure gun owners Monday by promising the legislation is being reviewed to ensure it does not target legitimate gun use.
He made the comments in response to widespread pushback against significant amendments made to Bill C-21, a bill crafted initially to ban handguns that the Liberals are attempting to amend with a new list of long guns to be banned.
It's unclear whether the firearm Price is holding in the photo he posted is included in that list or not.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said on Twitter that Price had been convinced "that the purpose or effect of gun control is to harm hunting for sport, which is incorrect."
With files from Peter Zimonjic, The Canadian Press and Radio-Canada