Mr. Speaker, there is a plaque on the wall of the École Polytechnique, and there are 14 names engraved on that plaque: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte. They were the 14 women whose lives were taken, who were murdered because they were women. These 14 women were daughters, partners, sisters, friends. They were taken from the people they loved, from the people who loved them.
Although 14 women were killed in the anti-feminist attack at the École Polytechnique, the victims number in the thousands, in the millions even. Thirty years later, all Quebeckers still bear this burden, this awful sense of being tainted. This happened in Quebec at the hands of a Quebecker. We all lost something on December 6, 1989. A man walked into a classroom in a place of knowledge and learning, he separated the men and the women, he let the men leave, and then he lined up the nine women and opened fire.
One of the students, Nathalie Provost, looked him in the eye and tried to calm him down. She said, “Listen, we are just women studying engineering. We are not feminists about to take to the streets in a tirade against men. We are just students trying to live normal lives.” Six of the women were killed, and three were injured. They were just students trying to live normal lives. After that, he left the classroom and went on a terrifying a 20-minute rampage through the school.
We all want our children to go to school. We tell them to go to school, to learn, to find a career that suits them, to contribute to society and to do their best. On December 6, 1989, however, a school, a university, was the site of a cowardly act of violence, hate and misogyny.
It is not enough to commemorate the events at Polytechnique. It is not enough to remember where we were and who we were with. That is not enough. Thirty years after this event, we must continue to fight to ensure that an anti-feminist attack like the one on December 6, 1989, never happens again.
The following 14 names will be forever etched in our history books: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte.
We must take action in your name. You forever symbolize the fight to end violence against women, you are part of our conscience, and you are what inspires us to do better and be a better society.
Thirty years later, thirty years after this day of infamy, let us make a solemn commitment to fight misogyny, hate and violence against women.
Words are not enough. In the House, we have the ability to take concrete action to ensure that an anti-feminist attack such as the one that occurred at the École Polytechnique in Montreal never happens again.
We can introduce stronger gun controls, especially for assault weapons and handguns, tighten border controls for firearms and ensure that buyers of firearms are not a threat to anyone's life.
We must also address daily violence against women, the blows, the horrible violence committed against women simply because they are women.
We need to get going. We need to take action. We have a duty to be vigilant. We owe it to the women we lost on December 6, 1989, and to the women we have lost since then. Let us act to ensure that this never happens again.