Habs apologize after Carey Price shows support of firearm lobbying group

The Montreal Canadiens have issued a “sincere apology” after goalie 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 didn’t know about the 1989 Polytechnique Massacre or its upcoming anniversary.

Price made the 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.

“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.”

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.

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price posted a picture of himself with a gun and the message ‘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 @justinpjtrudeau is trying to do is unjust.’ (Carey Price/Instagram)

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 to send 14 underprivileged girls to Polytechnique Montréal’s summer science camp, Folie Technique.

Coach says timing unfortunate

Canadiens coach Martin St-Louis said the timing of Price’s 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.

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.

Price, who is 35, was born in 1987, two years before the shooting. He grew up in a remote community in British Columbia called Anahim Lake, a region inhabited by the Ulkatcho First Nation. Price has played for the Montreal Canadiens since 2005. 

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.

WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to C-21 amendments pushback:

‘We’re not going after hunting rifles or shotguns,’ PM says

19 hours ago

Duration 1:50

In response to criticism of Bill C-21, Trudeau reaffirms commitment to go after ‘the most dangerous weapons’ and says the government is listening to feedback to ensure it is ‘not capturing weapons that are primarily hunting weapons.’

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.”

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