Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. My name is Nathalie Provost, and I was born at a time when everything seemed possible. Man walked on the moon. Women could choose their own lives. I am an engineer and the mother of four children. I am happy to use my talents to serve the government. And I am convinced that, as citizens, we are responsible for making our community a good place to live and grow together. However, I am also one of Marc Lépine's victims.
Twenty years ago, on December 6, 1989, that man, who believed that women were responsible for his misfortune, entered my school and my classroom. He asked the men to leave, and then fired at my colleagues and me, killing my friends and wounding me with four bullets. Marc Lépine used a Ruger Mini-14, a very dangerous weapon, one that does serious damage, and one that I have seen and experienced. I was incredibly lucky on that terrible day. I suffered some minor physical after-effects, but that luck today confers on me a responsibility to tell you how important gun control is.
In the past 20 years, I have thought a great deal about the events at Polytechnique. I read the coroner's report and I have read analysis of the event itself, what motivated Marc Lépine, the immediate causes and the social issues of the time. I understand that it is not easy to identify all the issues and that many factors must be considered if we hope to avoid another such slaughter. But that, unfortunately, appears to be a faint hope, as proven by the events at Dawson College. Marc Lépine, like Kimveer Gill, had certain personal issues and was motivated by many different factors and events in his life. They were the main players in those dramatic events.
But one thing is certain: without a gun, their destructive capacity would have been infinitely less. As a society, we cannot disregard the instrument through which Marc Lépine expressed himself. That firearm has marked me forever. It is on this that I intend to focus today. I believe that Canada must be as vigilant as possible when it comes to controlling firearms—all firearms. Over the years, we have developed a mechanism that recognizes that it is a privilege, not a right, to own a gun—a privilege that makes those who would like to exercise that right accountable, and that prohibits the possession of certain firearms whose risks outweigh any benefit to society. It is important to me that we not relax that process, particularly as regards long guns, which represent the vast majority of guns currently in circulation.
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Committee, I am here to attest to the fact that firearms are dangerous. The Ruger Mini-14 is currently an unrestricted long gun. That weapon, which killed 14 women and seriously wounded 13 others in the space of 30 minutes, would no longer be registered under Bill C-391. For me, that defies all logic. Every day, in the mirror, I remember the destructive capability of that weapon.
A firearm is a dangerous object that must be handled with care and attention. To own one is a tremendous privilege, one that entails a major responsibility it is incumbent on government to acknowledge and oversee. You are in the service of Canadians, as am I. As a citizen, I vote and rely on you to defend the public interest in safety matters. It is your duty and responsibility to legislate to reduce the risk of a slaughter, such as the one on December 6, 1989, ever occurring again.
According to all credible experts in this area, both police departments and suicide and spousal abuse prevention experts, the Firearms Registry is needed in order to reduce those risks. I am here today to add my voice to those of these groups: keep the firearms registry and retain its current scope, because I want to live in a country where people are accountable for their actions and their choices, and because I want to live in a country where it is possible to live without being afraid of guns.