Canada

Politicians express sorrow over college shootings

Politicians expressed their shock and sadness at the mass shooting Wednesday at Dawson College in Montreal, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling it "a cowardly and senseless act of violence."

Politicians expressed their shock and sadness at the mass shooting Wednesday at Dawson College in Montreal, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling it "a cowardly and senseless act of violence."

Harper issued a statement hours after the shooting, expressing condolences on behalf ofthe Canadian government.

"Today we have witnessed a cowardly and senseless act of violence unfold at Montreal's Dawson College," Harper said. "Our primary concern right now is to ensure the safety and recovery of all those who were injured during this tragedy. We continue to monitor the situation as it evolves."

In offering his sympathy, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblaycalled the shooting an "isolated" incident.

"It's too early to answer all questions and to know exactly what has happened, but these events are unacceptable," said Tremblay.

"I would like to offer my sympathies and my deep compassion to the victims, their parents, the injured and also the loved ones that are goingthrough difficult moments at this time."

Premier Jean Charest learned of the incident while in Quebec City.

"We are deeply saddened for the victims, the families, the parents of the children who study at Dawson,"Charest said.

"We pray that they're safe," headded after arriving in Montreal.

Flags at Quebec City's National Assembly and on all provincial government buildings wereflown athalf-mast Thursday. Charest said he ordered the flags lowered out of respect for the victims and their families.

The premier told reporters he would wait for more details from thepolice investigation before making further comments.Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis echoed that position.

"Obviously it's very sad, and we're following the police operation very closely," said Dupuis.

Call for national gun registry

Even before the exact circumstances of the Dawson College shootings were clear, some politicians said the incident showed that a national gun registry is needed.

"We need the registry," Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe told Radio-Canada. "The costs were outrageous, but we need the registry.

"It's tragic. We can never explain why these things happen," Duceppe said."At[l'École] Polytechnique, women were targeted, but here we have no idea."

Duceppe was referring to the shootings atl'École Polytechnique de Montréal on Dec. 6, 1989, when 25-year-old Marc Lepine gunned down 14 women before fatally shooting himself.

Lepine shouted"I hate feminists" as he opened fire on the female engineering students.

'We must unite'

A statement from interim Liberal Leader Bill Graham and Westmount-Ville Marie MP Lucienne Robillard decriedthe"senseless" Dawson College shootings and said Canadians mustjoin together intheir aftermath.

"We must unite as a country to show our compassion for those whose lives have been dramatically altered by this inexplicable event," they said.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the incident was a grim reminder of previous school shootings, and that it hit particularly close to home for him.

"I know Dawson College well, as someone who grew up in Montreal, and I can imagine the students and staff are in shock there," he said.

Layton said he awaited police confirmation on the type offirearm used, adding that a crackdown on the importing of illegal guns was needed.

L'École Polytechnique released a statement expressing its solidarity withthe Dawson victims and their families, and offered support for the college.

Concordia University offered counsellors and chaplains for anyone who needed assistance after Wednesday's shootings.

now