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The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was established to honour the victims of the December 6, 1989 massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal, where 14 women were murdered because they were women. One of those women, Maryse Laganière, was a CUPE member who worked at the school.

Violence against women continues to be a major issue in Canada. According to the CLC, every minute of every day, a woman or child is being sexually assaulted in Canada, and homicide is the number one killer of women in the workplace. On December 6 we remember not only the victims of the massacre, but all women whose lives have been ended or affected by violence.

On the 22nd anniversary of that tragic day, CUPE is calling on the Harper Conservative government to stop putting the safety of women and frontline workers across the country at risk with the proposed elimination of the gun registry.

Bill C-19 would eliminate the gun registry and destroy all of the data it has collected. The bill is currently before the House of Commons. It passed second reading on November 1, and is expected to go before the house for its third and final reading sometime before parliament breaks for the holidays.

CUPE recently made a submission to the standing committee on public safety and national security against Bill C-19 and in support of keeping the gun registry.

The registry was established, in part, in response to the December 6 massacre. Parliament introduced tougher gun control laws in 1991, and introduced the gun registry in 1995. Since the introduction of these laws, gun-violence against women in Canada has declined. Its continued use is an important tool to reduce violence against women and frontline workers.

Two-thirds of Canadians support the registry, according to a 2010 Ipsos-Reid poll. Even in rural areas, support for the registry is evenly split. Put simply, the registry works, Canadians support it and comply with it. The government should be seeking ways to make the registry even more effective, rather than dismantling it.

CUPE members across the country will be marking this important date at ceremonies across the country. A special ceremony will be held at CUPE national office in Ottawa, after which CUPE members will join CEP members at Parliament Hill on December 6 for a march and a rally to save the gun registry and end violence against women. Guest speakers at the rally will include Nycole Turmel, Leader of the Official Opposition, Tracy Gierman, Executive Director of the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses, and others.