UPDATE - 4:50 p.m.: A pro-gun lobby group is backtracking on a plan to hold a rally at a memorial site for the 14 women who were killed at Ecole polytechnique in 1989. A spokesperson for the group says on Facebook the event will be held elsewhere on Saturday.
A pro-gun demonstration is being organized days before the anniversary of the Montréal massacre at a park that commemorates the 14 victims.
Claiming to be "fighting feminism," Marc Lepine gunned down the women at the École Polytechnique in Canada's worst mass shooting on Dec. 6, 1989.
Guy Morin, vice-president of All Against A Quebec Firearms Registry which is organizing the rally, defended choosing the controversial location.
"We would have liked to have the demonstration in a basement of a church in Maniwaki, but nobody would have talked about it," Morin told La Presse in a French interview.
He said the goal is to attract attention and counter Poly Remembers, a group that advocates for limits on firearms.
"[Poly Remembers] uses the Polytechnic event every year to raise money for defend an agenda — gun control — by saying that they want to defend lives. We, too, want to defend lives," Morin said.
'... it's really provocation'
Families of the victims said the plans are an affront to their memory.
"People have the right to express their concern and they have the right to take part in the debate because it is a societal debate, except that there are places to do it," said Sylvie Haviernick, whose sister Maud was murdered in 1989.
"I think it's really provocation, yes, provocation, or at least a total lack of respect for the memory of the event, and for people who have contributed for years to ensure that we have a society that is freer, but at the same time with a control over public security that is necessary."
Via Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the scheduled demonstration "a needless and cruel provocation." The Status of Women minister and Montreal's mayor responded with outrage.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said the demonstration displayed a "lack of judgment" and "unacceptable disrespect for the victims of this tragedy and all female victims of violence."
A needless and cruel provocation. No matter the debate, no matter the argument, the families of Polytechnique victims should come first. May we always honour their memory. https://t.co/RgPFI3kskd— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 28, 2017
Je trouve absolument inacceptable, indécent, immoral que ce groupe veuille se présenter au lieu même où les familles des victimes se recueillent. https://t.co/XYkTtZ9ghO— Hélène David (@David_Hlne) November 28, 2017
With files from The Canadian Press and Catherine Lévesque/HuffPost Quebec