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PM offers condolences to Virginia Tech shooting victims in the Commons 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:30 p.m. April 17, 2007]

OTTAWA  — Prime Minister Stephen Harper took time during question period on Tuesday to express his and Canada's condolences for the victims of Monday's campus massacre at Virginia Tech.       
 
Harper's comments came on the same day it was confirmed that one of the 32 victims of the shooter was a Canadian who was a French-language instructor at the college. 

"We learned that a Canadian is among the victims in Virginia and, Mr. Speaker, I can say that the prayers, thoughts and condolences of each and everyone of us here in the House are with that family," the prime minister said at the opening of question period.

"It's really almost impossible to comprehend why an individual would take his own life and that of so many others in this way. But I think we can all say that our thoughts are with all the victims, their families and the community."

Radio Canada and The Canadian Press reported Tuesday that Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, a Montreal native who later resided in Nova Scotia, was among the victims. 

She moved to Virginia in the late 1990s along with her husband who is a horticulture professor at the institution. 

The tragedy is considered the worst shooting spree in U.S. history, a country which has seen several over the past five decades. 

Satellite news trucks from around the world have descended upon the college in Blacksburg, Virginia, which is now the centre of wall-to-wall attention from cable news channels in the United States in Canada. 

U.S. President George W. Bush attended a special memorial service at the school on Tuesday afternoon. 

"People who have never met you are praying for you, they're praying for your friends who have fallen or are injured," Bush told students. 

In the Commons, Harper was not alone in his sentiments.  

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said, "the Official Opposition certainly joins in with the government to extend our condolences to the grieving families."

Dion later issued a full statement in which he specifically offered condolences to the Canadian victim and her family. 

"Sadly, a fellow Canadian, French Language Professor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, was among yesterday's victims. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Ms. Couture-Nowak's friends and family, and especially to her husband, who is also a professor at Virginia Tech." 

And NDP Leader Jack Layton said, "Given the massacre in Virginia and given what happened in Dawson College and Ecole Polytechnique we offer our condolences to family of Jocelyne Couture-Nowak and all the families of those who lost people in the Virginia Tech massacre."

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