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People look at the memorial plaque in honour of the 13 students and one staff member killed in the Polytechnique massacre in Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Amid swift and widespread outrage, a pro-gun lobby group backtracked Tuesday 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 said on Facebook the event will be held elsewhere Saturday.

The earlier announcement by Tous contre un registre quebecois des armes a feu (All Against a Quebec Gun Registry) that it would hold a rally at Place du 6 decembre was roundly blasted by politicians of all stripes, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.

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Saturday's protest will be held four days before the 28th anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.

Earlier on Tuesday, Guy Morin, vice-president of the pro-gun group, defended the event as a way of reaching out to groups like PolySeSouvient, an organization comprised of survivors of the Polytechnique massacre and members of victims' families.

That group and its members have been targeted by gun lobby members online, but Morin said he wants dialogue.

"We want to show that we're open – we want to extend a hand to groups like PolySeSouvient and those who want stricter gun control laws – and find true solutions," he said.

"For 28 years, people in favour of gun control have taken this event to push their agenda, which in the end only serves to reduce the number of guns in the hands of honest people."

Trudeau took to Twitter to slam the original plan.

"A needless and cruel provocation," he said. "No matter the debate, no matter the argument, the families of Polytechnique victims should come first. May we always honour their memory."

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Plante also tweeted her disapproval.

"The pro-gun demonstration at the commemorative square of the Polytechnique massacre shows a lack of judgment, but also an unacceptable lack of respect for the victims of this tragedy and all women who are victims of violence," she said.

She later said it is important to protect and honour the memory of the victims.

"I am asking the organizers of this protest walk to reconsider their strategy because I don't think it is appropriate and this is not respectful to the memory of these women," Plante said.

"Also we are in a week when we're raising awareness about violence against girls and women."

Morin's group has also been mounting an offensive against Quebec's own provincial long-gun registry, which it claims will punish legitimate gun owners.

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Quebec's registry is being closely watched by groups outside the province who fear it could be duplicated in their jurisdictions.

The Quebec log was introduced to replace the federal long-gun registry, which was created by the Liberals in 1998 in response to the Polytechnique massacre and eliminated in 2012 by the Conservatives.

"We don't want situations like this (Polytechnique) to happen again, but the gun-control laws work well and that's not where the problem lies," Morin said.

Morin said Saturday's event has been in the works for the better part of a month with the knowledge of local and provincial police.

Sylvie Haviernick, whose sister Maud was one of the victims in 1989, called the protest an affront to the memories of the women who were killed.

"People have the right to express their concern and to take part in the debate because it is a societal debate," Haviernick said. "Except that there are places to do it and there are ways to do it. This is very aggressive as a means of communication from this group.

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"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 we have a society that is freer but also one that has necessary public security controls."

Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux was among several cabinet ministers who weighed in on Tuesday, saying holding such an event shows a lack of respect for the victims.

He said he thought it was a "very bad joke" when he first heard about it.

"When I found out it was true, I found it absolutely outrageous," Coiteux told reporters at the police academy in Nicolet, Que.

While he can understand some people being opposed to a long-gun registry, Coiteux said taking that fight to a sacred place for the 14 women is scandalous.

"It's worst than tasteless and I firmly condemn this planned demonstration," he added.

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Dominique Duchesne, a member of the gun lobby group, admitted the choice of the site was designed to attract attention, but he defended the choice.

"We are really respectful of the families of the victims and the victims themselves," Duchesne insisted. "But we want to pass the message the (mass) killings that happened were by people having mental health problems."

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