10/16/2014 03:19 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST

Allan MacMaster, N.S. Politician, Weeps After Tribute To Sex Abuse Survivors

HALIFAX - A Nova Scotia politician was overcome with emotion following a speech Thursday in the legislature in support of sexual abuse victims.

Allan MacMaster, who represents the Cape Breton riding of Inverness, said he wanted to acknowledge the bravery of sexual abuse survivors who have come forward.

"If anything, what we can do is send a message to anybody who has been sexually abused that we care in this legislature," MacMaster said after his speech.

When asked by reporters about the impact of such abuse, MacMaster wept as he explained that he found out that a man he used to play hockey with who has since died was sexually abused.

"I didn't know, but I can only imagine what he went through," he said through tears. "Nobody knew."

MacMaster said he thinks those who have been sexually abused are owed a public discussion about the problem in the hopes that it can be prevented.

During the speech, he used his house privilege to talk in general terms about several abuse cases in his area and read into the legislature's record the names of seven people he said came forward with their stories of abuse, two of whom looked on from the public gallery.

"We must help to give these victims hope," MacMaster told the house.

"We can acknowledge it happened, it was wrong and it was not asked for or deserved."