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Quebec reaffirms gun-registry intent

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QUEBEC -- The Quebec government marked the anniversary of Canada's worst mass shooting by reiterating its intention to create its own gun registry.

Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron said in a statement Thursday it will happen once Ottawa turns over Quebec data that was in the now-defunct federal long-gun registry.

Alexa Conradi, president of the Quebec Women's Federation, welcomed the confirmation that the province will proceed with its own gun registry.

"Controlling firearms is a really important and essential aspect of fighting violence against women," she said at a rally in front of the Montreal courthouse Thursday.

Conradi made her comments as several dozen people commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the killing of 14 women at the École polytechnique in 1989.

France Bourgault, one of the organizers, said the courthouse was chosen because, according to her, the judicial system and the state are unable to guarantee women's safety.

Though Conradi welcomed Bergeron's statement, she was still worried about the impact of the Conservative government's decision to abolish the federal registry.

"We're definitely concerned about women across Canada who will now be faced with the absence of sufficient controls of firearms and that might put them at greater risk for violence against women," she said.

Bergeron later said he wasn't sure if the legislation setting up the registry would be tabled before the resolution of an ongoing legal battle with the federal government. But he said it would happen "soon."

Quebec and Ottawa are fighting over the federal registry, which the Conservatives scrapped earlier this year.

In September, Quebec Superior Court ordered the data on Quebec guns be preserved and turned over to the province.

The federal government is appealing that ruling and a hearing is scheduled for March.

Information provided by the other parts of the country has been destroyed.

The federal registry, created in 1995 by the Liberal government, has been controversial from the start due to conflicting claims about its effectiveness.

In announcing the province's intentions, Bergeron noted he knew one of the victims, student Nathalie Croteau.

Vigils were scheduled across Canada to mark the 1989 tragedy and decry violence against women.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2012 A17

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