Mr. Speaker, I rise on this day in this chamber as all of us and all Canadians are heartbroken. We are heartbroken for the 18 people confirmed killed in a senseless act of violence in Nova Scotia, heartbroken because the people whose lives were taken away will never be with us again.
Among them was Constable Heidi Stevenson, who died in the line of duty. She was kind and she was gifted. She was great police and she was a great mom. She embodied the values that built this country, values like integrity, honesty, compassion. For her community, she paid the ultimate price, and her service will never be forgotten.
Like Constable Stevenson, many of the victims were also serving their community in the best way they knew how: a teacher, a nurse, a child's grandparent, a parent's child. Who has the words to ease our sorrow? There are no words for the pain their families and loved ones feel today. I want them to know that all Canadians are with them, that this senseless, evil act will not define Nova Scotia, that today all Canadians are Nova Scotians. We share their grief. We are mourning their loss and we will be there for them in the difficult days, weeks and months ahead.
We have 11 colleagues in this House who represent the people of Nova Scotia. They are where they need to be today, with their communities across the province, grieving and supporting them. We stand with them today and every day.
It is hard for people to believe that such a tragedy could have happened in communities such as Portapique, Truro or Enfield, in places where people know and trust each other, the kind of place where people do not lock their doors. As Senator Kutcher said this morning, in Nova Scotia, there are not six degrees of separation between people; there are two. Everyone knows each other. Everyone is in shock. As shock gives way to grief, many will be as angry as the families and friends who are mourning the loss of their loved ones, angry that they will not be able to gather together to celebrate the lives of those taken from us.
This has been a heartbreaking year for Canadians. From January onwards, it felt as if every time we turned on the news, we would see reports of violence that could not be stopped, of lives that could not be saved. This horrific tragedy happened at a time when Canadians from coast to coast to coast are making sacrifices to keep each other safe, at a time when they are making the right choices every single day to prevent more heartbreak and more tragedy, so when we awoke yesterday to horrific reports coming out of Nova Scotia, many of us probably asked ourselves, “Just how much more can we take?”
In our darkest hour, what drives us forward is our shared pursuit of a better future. Our country’s very recent history is not without its obstacles or sadness. Three years ago, we mourned the loss of six innocent people who were murdered while they were praying in Sainte-Foy. We did not let that act of hatred prevent us from seeking a better future.
Two years ago, we mourned a young woman, a little girl and the many injured on Toronto's Danforth Avenue while they were simply enjoying a summer evening in the neighbourhood. We did not let that stop us from a common pursuit of a better tomorrow. Over this past year, we have seen far too many communities shattered, far too many families torn apart by violence and by acts of hate. We will not let that stop us from our common pursuit of a better tomorrow.
In our darkest hours, we have always answered hate with hope. We have chosen unity over division, because no one man's actions, no matter how cruel, how destructive or how evil, can build a wall of despair between us and that better tomorrow.
Today is a heartbreaking day for all Canadians, but while we are united in our grief, we must also be united in our resolve to uphold our values, to live by the example of those who left us too soon, to let hope, love and compassion guide us during the difficult days, weeks and months ahead, because our better tomorrow will come. It might not be this week or even this month, but it will come.