Latin American Heritage Month Act

An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month


This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment designates the month of October in each and every year as “Latin American Heritage Month”.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 20, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:25 p.m.
See context


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise tonight to speak to Bill S-218. I echo so many of my colleagues tonight who paid tribute to Senator Enverga. He was the first Filipino Canadian appointed to the Senate. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the Filipino community but also reached across ethnic lines, which is why he brought forward the bill before us, Bill S-218. While travelling on ParlAmericas business, he became ill and died suddenly in Colombia. All of us miss him greatly and extend our condolences to his family and the Filipino community.

I have a great interest in Latin America. I used to be in the livestock export business. I had a number of individuals working for me in Mexico, and I had an office in southern Brazil. I travelled extensively across the Pampas. Over the years when I was selling livestock and genetic materials, I fell in love with the culture, music, food, and especially the people. It is amazing how many of them have called Canada home. They have left some gorgeous countries, especially in Central America and the Caribbean, to come here and live in the cooler climate of Canada.

Since I was elected in 2004, I have had the opportunity to work quite a bit on ParlAmericas, including three years as its Canadian president. Sitting on the international executive of ParlAmericas, I worked side by side with politicians from Latino parliaments and got to visit a lot of the countries. I went a number of times to Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina.

They are great, thriving democracies, but they were not always that way. So many people have come to call Canada home because this is the country they came to for refuge. They were fleeing violence, dictatorships, internal conflicts, and civil wars, and they were trying get away from the drug cartels.

I think about Colombia in particular, and how long FARC, paramilitaries, the government, and the drug cartels battled over territory. I have been in the city of Medellin, which is about the size of Ottawa or Winnipeg and has about 800,000 people. At the peak of the conflict, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, that city alone was seeing over 4,000 murders a year. If we contrast that with the number of murders here, in cities of that scale, it is astounding that so many people are killed because of that type of violence. Of course people would want to get away from that.

Many people came to Canada from Chile to get away from Pinochet, the general who, through the coup and the junta, took over the country in 1973. He was a dictator there until 1990. Of course, Chileans fled.

We have a lot of Cubans who came to live in Canada to get away from the Castros. First it was Fidel, and now Raúl. We always forget, because a lot of people like to go on vacation in Cuba, but it is a communist country where thousands of people were political prisoners and were executed during the civil war by Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl.

In Ecuador, we had Correa. In Honduras, there are many different conflicts. In Bolivia, there is Morales. In Nicaragua, people lived under Daniel Ortega from 1979 until 1990. He was a brutal dictator, who came back to power in 2007, and even this spring, we were seeing student protests trying to overthrow his corrupt government. Of course, we have heard members talk about Venezuela and how corrupt it is, first under Hugo Chávez, and now under President Nicolás Maduro. Each and every time, people are trying to get away from these individuals, who are committing atrocities. Maduro was using food as a weapon.

That was something we experienced in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, when Stalin, another Communist leader, actually used food as a weapon. We are seeing it being done in modern times in Venezuela. We have all these people who have come to Canada.

Back in the fall, we passed the Sergei Magnitsky law, which Senator Raynell Andreychuk and I brought to both Houses of Parliament. The first name on the list of government sanctions was Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela. I applaud the government for doing that, because it sends a strong signal that these dictators who commit atrocities against their citizens are the target of what we are trying to do under the Magnitsky sanctions. They cannot use Canada as a safe haven to hide their wealth or hide their families, and their hypocrisy, atrocities, and violent suppression of their people will not be tolerated by the free world.

Of course, a lot of Latinos have come to Canada because of economic opportunity. I think about the Mexicans, in particular. Over 80,000 have come to call Canada home. They are by far the biggest Latino community in Canada. A lot of them came here originally to work on our farms. A lot of them still do as summer migrants as part of the farm workers program we have, with temporary visas. They come year after year, often working in the orchards and vegetable fields, and even on the honey farms in the apiaries. They fall in love with Canada. They love the standard of living they can enjoy here, so they stay. We welcome their joining Canada and our economy.

The largest community of Mexicans is in the city of Brandon. They came to work in the pork industry. They have great-paying jobs, are making major contributions to the city, and of course, brought their culture with them.

We talked about the music, the dance, the language, the art, and of course, the food. However, let us remember that there are some great festivals. I want to invite everyone here to Folklorama in Winnipeg, August 5 to 18. Folklorama has over 44 pavilions of all different ethnicities. Seven pavilions are Latino. There is the Argentina “Tango” pavilion, the Brazilian pavilion, the Caribbean pavilion, and the Mexican pavilion. Chile has two, the Chilean and the Chile Lindo, which means beautiful. There is also the El Salvador pavilion. We have these great pavilions that people can tour. They get a passport. They get it stamped and can enjoy this fantastic festival.

I know there are lots of great Latino festivals. Of course, in Toronto they like to talk about Caribana, but by far, the best cultural festival in Canada, which runs for two weeks, is Folklorama. My friend from Winnipeg North agrees with me. We want to see Canadians come and enjoy all the different cultures, but if we are now going to recognize Latin American heritage month in Canada every October, let us make sure we get out there and support their festivals and learn more about their culture. All of us will be better for it.

I thank all our friends in the Latin American community across Canada for coming and making Canada their home. I thank them for coming here and making such a major contribution. I thank them for being part of our cultural mosaic, as a multicultural nation. I thank them for making us a better country.

I encourage all my colleagues to support Bill S-218. Let us do it in celebration of the memory of Senator Enverga. I know, at the end of the day, that we will be a better country for it.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:35 p.m.
See context


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, buenas noches. It is my pleasure as well. Unfortunately, I forget most of the Spanish I learned with my Mexican colleagues in Montreal. We need to work on our languages. I would add at the beginning that I am totally supportive of this bill for a Latin American heritage month, but knowing my Latino friends, they would probably rather do it in July or August, given where they come from. Maybe that is negotiable.

There are more than 25,000 Latinos in my city of Edmonton, and most in the Latin American community speak a minimum of two languages. Many, of course, speak Spanish, but they also speak Portuguese. As I will share later, there are other languages our Latin American friends have brought to Canada. They were attracted to Edmonton, in particular, for reasons like many others, such as good schools and economic opportunity, but mostly for freedom. Many came as refugees.

As Giuseppe Marconi, the organizer of the Edmonton Carnaval, explained, “Trying to describe over 20 Latin American countries where a language is in common sounds easy, but in reality, everyone is unique, with different cultures, gastronomies, arts, folklore, stories, but we are always looking to overcome the difficulties.”

I asked him how many languages, and he said that everybody thinks that they all just speak Spanish, but if we have Spanish-speaking friends, we know that many of them speak differently. Of course, in part of Spain, they speak Spanish with a beautiful lisp. It is a beautiful language.

Edmonton's Latino community is made up of 20 different country backgrounds. Some speak Spanish, some Portuguese, but many speak indigenous languages, such as Mayan and Arawak languages. Over 2,000 claim Latino heritage in my riding of Edmonton Strathcona alone, and over 4,000 in my riding profess to being able to speak Spanish or Portuguese.

There are many prominent Latino Edmontonians and Albertans. Three Alberta members of the legislature are of Latin American heritage: Alberta culture minister Ricardo Miranda, who came from Nicaragua; Rod Loyola, who emigrated to Alberta as a child refugee from Chile; and Estefania Cortes-Vargas, who is from Colombia.

Sandra Azocar, a renowned community leader, is executive director of Friends of Medicare and is a great campaigner, on our party's behalf, campaigning for pharmacare.

Ricardo Acuña, a dear friend, is the executive director of the Parkland Institute. He immigrated to Canada as a child with his family, political refugees from the repression in Chile in the 1970s. Ricardo reminds me of the substantial influence the Chilean community has had on Alberta in infusing commitment to both social democracy and the union movement. He has reminded me that Ramon Antipan, also a Chilean refugee, was instrumental in building CUPW.

A Peruvian, a rather controversial Latino, Raffi Torres, formerly played with the Edmonton Oilers. He is now a retired NHL hockey player.

My dear friend Sonia Varela, and her daughter Maria, also Chilean refugees, have been stalwart supporters of social democracy, pharmacare, and medicare in my province.

César Augusto Rendón is the president and founder of Multicultural Media and Art Foundation, which has supported projects including Edmonton Carnaval, La Prensa, and Directorio Latino de Alberta.

Giuseppe Marconi, whom I mentioned earlier, is host and creator of the VIVAYEGLATINO podcast and the Latino Canadian Awards Gala. He organizes Carnaval Edmonton, which takes place over three days in the summer in Edmonton Strathcona. He proudly advises that this is the largest Latin festival in Canada, so come and check it out.

Mexicans Carlos Isaias and Bernardo Maldonado are the owners of the fabulous Tienda Latina Argyll Foods, which offers a full range of Latin foods and condiments, also in my beautiful riding of Edmonton Strathcona.

Juan Caroca, is a long-time radio host for Corazon Latino on World FM, also broadcast from Edmonton Strathcona.

Sebastian Barrera, community promoter of the arts, is founder of the CreArt Edmonton school of art in Parkdale Cromdale. It is a free donation-run arts school that provides free music lessons and has completed large graffiti and mural art in the Kinnaird Ravine in my city. My neighbours hosted a backyard fundraiser for his program. It is a very worthwhile program.

There are many cultural organizations and schools, including the Gabriela Mistral Latin American School in my riding. It is a highly regarded school for teaching Spanish to adults and children. It was founded in 1987.

The Edmonton Hispanic Bilingual Association, also in my riding, at McKernan School, was founded in 1981. The Cultural Association Folklorical Mexico Lindo of Alberta teaches traditional Mexican folk dance. LASCA, the Latin American Senior Citizen Association of Edmonton, and Primavera Grupo are Latin American senior citizens groups. LACEN, the Latin American Community Engagement Network, has settlement services, English classes, and training for recent immigrants. It has also partnered with the Papaschase First Nation to honour indigenous culture.

Venezolanos en Edmonton is a Venezuelan group that gets together. Aculpeca, the Pervuvian Canadian Cultural Association, is also in my riding. There is the Chilean Canadian Cultural Society, and the Latin American Students' Association, at my alma mater, the University of Alberta.

Across the city, and I am particularly proud, in my riding of Edmonton Strathcona, are many fabulous Latino restaurants: HUMA; El Cortez; Mucho Burrito; Àvila Arepa, which is a Venezuelan restaurant; Julio's Barrio; Burrito Libre; and Tacos on Whyte. They are all places to get together when people visit beautiful Edmonton Strathcona.

In closing, I would like to share that for four years, I had the opportunity to work with Mexican colleagues in Montreal at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, and at every opportunity—every child's birthday, every spouse's birthday, every celebration, such as Cinco de Mayo, the Day of the Dead, or the Day of the Dead plus Hallowe'en—we would have celebrations. There would be a lot of salsa, a lot of samba, a lot of merenge, a lot of music, and of course, a lot of tequila.

I have been very privileged to spend a lot of time with Latino colleagues and friends, and this is a culture in our country that merits a celebration. We still might want to negotiate the month, because many of these festivals are outside. At the Heritage Festival in Edmonton, which is mammoth, and goes on over three days, people will find a lot of the culture of the Latino community.

Buenas noches, and enjoy the rest of the evening celebrating the Latino culture.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
See context


Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Buenas noches, el presidente. I am very pleased to speak in support of Bill S-218, seeking to create a Latin American heritage month in Canada. The proposed legislation would create an opportunity for us to appreciate more and learn more about the Latin American culture in Canada.

Latin American heritage month was originally proposed by the late senator Tobias Enverga, the first Canadian senator of Filipino descent. The senator, not being Latin American himself, still found it important that Canada would celebrate the amazing contributions Latin American culture has given to Canada.

Senator Enverga, who was a champion of multiculturalism in Canada, passed away suddenly on Thursday, November 16, 2017, while on parliamentary business in Colombia. He is and was very deeply missed. He said, “The Canadian policy of multiculturalism is a great success when it comes to allowing for, and celebrating, the various cultural backgrounds and languages we have [and we share].” He also said, “Few countries in the world are as open and accepting to people who come from other countries to settle and make a new life for themselves as [Canada].”

I also want thank my hon. colleague, the member for Thornhill, for continuing the work started by Senator Enverga.

We are so blessed to live in such a multicultural society in Canada. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988 has done much to welcome and invite cultures from across the globe into our Canadian family. The measures emphasize the right of all individuals to preserve and share their cultural heritage while retaining their right to full and equitable participation in Canadian society. The act sought to remove any barriers preventing full participation in society and promised to assist individuals in eliminating and overcoming discrimination.

Canada's Latin American population is approaching 500,000 people. That is a significant number of Canadians who self-identify as Latin American and we are grateful that they have chosen to make this great country their home, and home they make it. Their contributions to our society are absolutely wonderful. Across Canada, there are many Latin American festivals and celebrations that take place and being able to access such a vibrant culture is a privilege that we are blessed to appreciate.

In my community of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, I was able to participate a few months ago in Mosaic - A Festival of Cultures, in which over a dozen different cultures were involved, and believe me, the Latin American contingent was second to none. They bring a great deal of energy, colour, and vibrancy to the community.

Latin America itself is comprised of 26 countries: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Haiti, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Saint Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy. The Latin American population is approximately 620 million people, and that is excluding those who have emigrated elsewhere.

Latin America is full of both human and natural resources. Being up in the north, we have Latin Americans to thank for being able to enjoy things like strawberries, oranges, grapes, watermelon, and much more in the midst of our Canadian winters. We also welcome many people from Latin America to help fill our labour gaps in different regions of Canada. In my riding of Yorkton—Melville, many of the honey farms hire wonderful Latin American beekeepers. Their hard work is such an integral part of our honey and agricultural industry. That is an area where we need to work harder to enable them to work in this country more consistently without having to make so many trips back and forth when they want to spend their time in Canada and contribute to our economy.

Canada's Latin American population is a vibrant and multicultural community, composed of a range of subgroupings. First generation artists, musicians, writers, and athletes, as well as leaders in the science, health, and business sectors, have led second and third generations who are adding their talents and skills to the mix.

As much as our cultures are different, there are also similarities. With some countries, we share French as our official language. With other countries, we share resources in the mining and oil sector, and with most of the countries we do share a Judeo-Christian heritage.

If Latin America was one entire country, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world. It is vital that Canada continues to build a trade relationship with this key region of the global economy, and continues to welcome these wonderful people into our country, with all that they have to offer and all that we have to offer to them. We only stand to benefit from a deep relationship with Latin America. Creating a Latin American heritage month in Canada is a meaningful gesture that signals to Canada's Latin Americans that they are welcome here and they are very much valued in our society.

I invite all members of the House to join me in my support of Bill S-218. I look forward to Latin American heritage month and celebrating our Latin American community more.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:50 p.m.
See context


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to celebrate Latin American culture. Later in my speech, I will explain why it is so important and so emotional for me to talk about this culture.

I want to start by talking about the bill before us, which designates a Latin American heritage month. This bill says that the Parliament of Canada recognizes that members of the Latin American community in Canada have made significant contributions to the social, economic, and political fabric of the nation and that the designation of a month as Latin American heritage month would be a meaningful way to educate the public about these contributions. It also says that Latin American communities across Canada would be mobilized by a Latin American heritage month. October is a particularly significant month for many Latin American communities, which is why it was chosen as the month to celebrate Latin American culture.

We are in favour of this bill, and we support it. We know that dozens of Latin American nations are represented in Canada. Drummond is home to many diverse communities. In fact, on March 25 and 26, we celebrated the seventh edition of the Drummondville cultural diversity festival in Sainte-Thérèse Park. The people of Drummond are very proud of this event. It is an intercultural family event where everyone, young and old, can dance to music from all over the world, taste traditional dishes, and participate in a wide range of free activities designed to promote dialogue and exchange.

I attended this festival and even danced a little with my wife. As we know, it is Ramadan, and we also got to break our fast that night. This year's edition was amazing as usual. Latin American culture was also represented at this tremendously enriching and very relevant festival. Many communities participated. As a matter of fact, the Regroupement interculturel de Drummondville, the organization behind the festival, has been welcoming and assisting newcomers on behalf of the Quebec department of immigration, diversity, and inclusion for over 20 years.

There are 55 different cultural communities in Drummondville, which account for approximately 4% of the total population. The Latin American population is a significant component of that. Between 30% to 40% of immigrants belong to that community. There is also a large African community. Drummondville now has a large Arab community, including Syrians and Iraqis, to name just a few. We are very proud to have all these cultures and to be able to learn from each other.

Every year, at Drummondville's Fête de la diversité culturelle, the cultural communities of our region set up booths representing some 15 countries. For the first time, Scottish clans were there, including members of the Lindsay clan, one of the founding families of Drummondville. We were very happy to have them all there.

Earlier I mentioned that Latin American culture is very dear to my heart. It is so dear to my heart because of mi querida, mi vida, mi corazón, y mi mujer, also known as my wife, Liliana Moncada Garcia.

She lives with me, so one could say that Latin American culture is alive in my home. That is why it is so important to me. I am already pretty well sold on this bill because my wife, my life, my love, Liliana Moncada, brings Latino culture to life every day in my home and in my life.

Others have already talked about the importance of music and dance to Latin Americans. At my house, Latin music is our soundtrack. From salsa and merengue to bachata and reggaeton, Latin music and rhythms are a constant presence. My wife loves to groove to Latin music. She has tried teaching me to dance, but with two left feet, I find it hard to keep up. In Latin dancing, the man usually leads the woman, but in our case, my wife is the one in charge.

I have also developed an appreciation for the flavours of Latin American food. That is extremely important because, as they say, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Latin American flavours are important to me for that reason. I have savoured the gamut of flavours at home and on the road with the ParlAmericas parliamentary group. I have travelled to and worked with other parliamentarians in Panama, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia, discovering Latin American dishes such as ceviche and empanadas along the way. I love them all. Regularly sampling and enjoying Latin American cuisine is such a pleasure for me.

October was chosen because many countries celebrate important dates then. For example, October 12 is the Día de las Culturas in Costa Rica, the Día de la Resistencia Indígena in Venezuela, the Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural in Argentina, and the feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida and Dia das Crianças, children's day, in Brazil.

It is therefore an important month for many Latin American countries and cultures. It also marks the end of the independence celebrations for several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico.

I am also very proud that my daughters, Ariane and Oriana, have had the opportunity to volunteer in Latin America to learn about these countries. They lived with families and worked every day. They picked coffee beans, helped with cleaning, worked on the farm, and did some sewing. They spent a few weeks discovering the culture of Latin American countries. I am very pleased that my entire family has been enriched by this culture and that Drummondville is also enriched by 55 very beautiful cultures.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8 p.m.
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Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very excited to rise in this place to speak to the Senate bill, BillS-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. The Latin American community has always been a strong contributor to building Canada.

Before I get into the meat of the bill, I would like to take a few moments to talk about the bill's sponsor in the other place, the late Senator Tobias Enverga. It is fitting that the bill would establish the first Latin American heritage month, as Senator Enverga was a man of firsts. He was the first Filipino Canadian elected to the Toronto District School Board and the first senator of Filipino descent appointed to the other place.

As we all know, Senator Enverga was a tireless advocate for the Asian Canadian community, having served as the co-chair of the Asian Heritage month celebration for the greater Toronto area, and was a director of the Canada Multicultural Council. The senator also founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation and was the former president of the Philippine Independence Day Council.

Just this week, I was honoured to attend the annual Filipino independence day flag-raising ceremony on the steps of Parliament Hill, with a number of my colleagues on all sides of the House and the other place.

Bill S-218 is evidence that Senator Enverga's advocacy was not limited to our Asian Canadian populations, but rather stretched across the great Pacific Ocean into Latin America, which is the focus of the bill, to create a heritage month for Latin America.

For some people, making the difficult choice to pick up their lives and start over in a new world is never an easy one. In many cases, people leave behind friends, loved ones, and the familiarity of years gone by in search of opportunity and prosperity. These are the difficult choices that nearly all of our ancestors, if not ourselves, have made at one time or another. It is a journey that I, as well as many others in this place, have made. Vancouver is home to one of the largest communities of Latin Americans in Canada.

Latin America covers a huge stretch of land, from Mexico in North America, down through the central American nations, via Panama to Colombia, and down the Andes mountains to beautiful Tierra Del Fuego, in the southern reaches of Argentina and Chile, and reaches from the Pacific across South America to the warm beaches of Brazil. This is not an exhaustive list of the names of every country that is associated with Latin America, but I am trying to give people an idea of the massive geography from which Latin Americans come.

The most common attribute among Latin Americans is the language they speak. The predominant languages are Spanish and Portuguese, where Portuguese is the primary language spoken in Brazil, and Spanish is the primary language spoken elsewhere. I understand that many Portuguese speakers are able to speak Spanish and vice versa, just like many Canadians are able to speak English and French.

Latin Americans have made many cultural contributions to Canada. Indeed, 2018 is a World Cup year. It is well known around the world the passion that Latin Americans have toward their soccer teams. This passion has reached Canada, where soccer is quickly becoming a sport that is gathering a growing following. In fact, just this morning, I learned that a joint bid between Canada, the United States, and Mexico to host the FIFA World Cup was successful, and we will see the world’s best soccer players, or should I say football players, descend on Canada in 2026.

Given this good news, it is no wonder our NAFTA talks have been held up, as all three countries were too busy securing the World Cup. The best news, however, is that we are guaranteed to see our men's national soccer team make its return to the largest stage in all of sport, and I have no doubt the players will make each and everyone of us proud.

Latin American cuisine is also very popular. In any Canadian city of size, we can always find restaurants that offer both traditional and a fusion of culinary tastes. There are many places in Ottawa within walking distance of the House and also in my beautiful home constituency of Richmond Centre, offering Latin American tastes. Not to offend our Albertan colleagues, but if people are hungry for meat, a great option is a Brazilian steakhouse.

In Bill S-218, it is mentioned that Latin Americans and the Latin American community in Canada have made significant contributions to the social, economic, and political fabric of the nation. This is indeed true. On an individual level, the contributions of Latin American Canadians to our nation have been immeasurable. They have distinguished themselves in all fields of work, whether it be in sport, music, sciences, or even in this very place. Having his origins in Argentina, I know the chief government whip will surely have much to say in support of Bill S-218.

Indeed, our former leader of the official opposition, the Hon. Rona Ambrose, grew up in Brazil, and speaks Portuguese and Spanish. Former minister of justice and public safety, the Hon. Vic Toews, was born in Paraguay. Not surprisingly, several Latin American Canadians have gone on to play in the NHL, including Raffi Torres and Bryce Salvador.

October also marks a number of special dates for Latin American nations. On October 10, Cuba celebrates Grito de Yara, the anniversary of the start of Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain. I will restrain myself from commenting on the fascination with Cuba some members across the floor have. On October 12, many Latin American nations celebrate Día de la Raza, or pan American day.

I am more than happy to support Bill S-218, and, if the House of Commons so agrees, proclaim the month of October to be known as Latin American heritage month.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
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John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is always nice to have the enthusiastic support of my colleagues. It is unfortunate that my friends across the way are not participating. I am the 18th Conservative member who has spoken to this very important bill. There has not been one single Liberal speaker tonight. It is unfortunate that the Liberals are not participating and celebrating a very rich Latino heritage in our country. It is great to have the support of my Conservative colleagues here tonight, and I thank them for their enthusiasm.

Tonight I want to talk about my own experiences with the Latino community. In February, I had the opportunity to tour Guatemala as part of a delegation with some colleagues and with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. I wanted to make this trip because there are a number of very strong supporters of the Canada Foodgrains Bank from my own constituency in Foothills. This includes a number of producers, farmers who have designated certain quarter sections of their land where they grow a variety of crops, such as wheat and canola, which they send to many of these countries as part of their co-operation with the Canada Foodgrains Bank. I also have a number of faith-based groups and churches that are participating with the Canada Foodgrains Bank.

What is so unique and beneficial about this program and this partnership with countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador is that not only are they participating by sending actual commodities and products to help those who are in poverty or suffering from malnutrition, but they are also participating by going to these countries and teaching people how to grow products, teaching them new and innovative ways in agriculture, and giving them the opportunities to start new businesses.

Tonight I would like to share one story in particular. I was in a very remote community in Guatemala, high up in the mountains, sitting in a family's cinder-block house. It seemed like every couple of minutes more wives, kids, and husbands were coming in to see the Canadian delegation. We saw how proud a father and his son were, talking about their new business. They had just started a potato farm. When we talk about farms, we are talking about maybe hundreds of acres. This farm was a garden plot, probably not much bigger than a couple of desks. They were growing potatoes for sustenance and to sustain their community in this very remote area.

I learned from this experience that potatoes actually started in the mountains of Peru. I just assumed, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you would, that this was a Prince Edward Island or an Irish invention. I was proven to be very wrong. These actually started in the Andes Mountains, and people are trying to reintroduce this crop into the mountainous areas in these communities in Guatemala.

However, they were finding that pests were making it very difficult to get good crops. There was a kind of black mite or wireworm. Of course, these communities cannot afford the pesticides and chemicals that we have here in North America, but they invented their own natural pesticide. It was pepper, vegetable oil, and some kind of wild mushroom, and they were fermenting it in barrels. I am not sure how they came up with that concoction, but it actually worked. It proved to be extremely successful, so much so that communities in other villages around them were coming to this community asking if they could get the recipe.

The father and son found that this was a great entrepreneurial opportunity. They applied to the Canada Foodgrains Bank, which gave them some seed money to start their own micro-business. They built a little factory. They purchased the barrels, as well as the ingredients and some packaging, and put together a little assembly line. We could see how excited they were to be able to start their own business. Hopefully, it is going to be successful.

The one ironic thing I would mention is that, despite being above the clouds in this very remote mountainous area, they have better Wi-Fi and Internet service than we do in many of the rural communities in my own constituency. They were going to be marketing these products on Facebook, and they were building a website. I think we have some work to do here, if the remote areas of Guatemala have better cell service than we have here in Canada. However, they were already thinking that far ahead to market these products. This opportunity would not have happened were it not for the contributions of people back here in Canada. That is why it is so fitting that we take the opportunity to celebrate Latin American heritage month here in Canada, if we look at the partnerships we have built from one country to the next.

I found it interesting that when it comes to agriculture, there is a large export market to many of these countries in Latin America. More than $2 billion is traded between our countries and between these communities. We have free trade agreements with several countries, including Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Peru. Now we are in negotiations for other free trade agreements, with the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and obviously Guatemala, which has the largest economy in that area.

As we were going through Guatemala, my NDP colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot was also with me. I have visited her riding. She helped me practise my French when I was there as well. I kept it a secret that I could understand French so I could spy. However, we were all there to see the businesses the Guatemalans had started, anything from this little pesticide business to a co-operative of coffee bean growers. Through the support of Canadians, they were able to buy a coffee roaster facility, bring it all together, and become successful on a large scale. It was really exciting to see that first-hand, as well as the co-operation and communication that happens between Canada and Guatemala.

There is another story I would like to share with members about our trip that I thought was interesting. We visited a communal area in a community where a large number of women had started their own business making scarves, blankets, and a number of souvenir items. It started as the result of our having so many seasonal agriculture workers from Guatemala coming here to Canada. Obviously, it is mainly men making that trip over here for six or seven months to help with our agriculture businesses. At the same time, many of the women were left at home trying to take care of their family and also trying to raise money on their own. A lot of these women were also left without husbands as a result of the decade-long civil war that ended just a few years ago. With the help of a Canadian, who provided the initial funding to purchase looms and material, they were able to start their own business, which has become extremely successful. Now they are selling these products not only across Guatemala in souvenir shops but around the world by marketing them online. We can learn a lot of lessons from some of the things they are doing, and some of the things we are doing here.

In conclusion, I want to say that it really is an honour to rise and speak about Latin American heritage month. I want to give a quick acknowledgement of Senator Enverga, who brought this forward. We have a large Filipino community in my riding. I had a lot of respect for Senator Enverga and what he did for the Filipino community across Canada. I want to recognize that as well.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:20 p.m.
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Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Foothills for his incredible speech. It says something about his quality as a shadow minister of agriculture that he can speak on Latin American heritage month and tie in agriculture and the importance of that community and its product to Alberta.

I am very happy to speak in support of Bill S-218, to establish the month of October as Latin American heritage month.

I am the 19th Conservative speaking in support of this bill, and I express my disappointment that not a single Liberal has decided to stand up to support this bill or to recognize the importance of this community to Canada. Liberals choose not to participate in the debate to recognize all that this community has contributed to our country.

Before I address this bill, I want to honour the memory of my good friend, the late Senator Tobias Enverga, also known as “Jun”, who first brought this bill forward in the Senate.

Born in the Philippines, Tobias Enverga became the first Canadian senator of Filipino descent. He was appointed to the Senate by previous prime minister Stephen Harper. As an immigrant, Senator Enverga was not shy about his love for Canada, and he was a hard-working parliamentarian who carried unparalleled influence within his community.

Prior to entering politics, Senator Enverga served as a Catholic school board trustee in Toronto, and he became known in the Toronto region for launching the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group and initiated the annual Filipino independence day flag raising on Parliament Hill, an event we just celebrated a couple of days ago, and one I was very happy to take part in last year, when I was not in committee. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I remember being with Senator Enverga, unrolling this massive Filipino flag in front of many hundreds of Canadians of Filipino descent who were celebrating as well.

Senator Enverga was also an executive member of the ParlAmericas group and worked hard to forge closer ties with parliamentarians throughout Latin America. He aimed to help them strengthen democracy and governance through international co-operation and productive dialogue. He was most notably known for his fierce advocacy for immigrants, the poor, and especially those with special needs, like his daughter Rocel, who has Down syndrome.

I first met Senator Enverga a few years ago, and I knew him as a devoted husband to his wife Rose, and a devoted father. He was also devoted to his faith. He was a Catholic and a fourth degree Knight of Columbus. I am a mere first degree Knight of Columbus, as I have not had time to attend because of my parliamentary duties, and my church constantly reminds me of that. Senator Enverga constantly reminded me that he was a fourth degree and I was just a first degree. I appreciate his commitment to his faith and to his church as well.

In the spirit of multiculturalism, Senator Enverga sponsored Bill S-218, designating the month of October as Latin American heritage month. This is important to me as the member for Edmonton West, as there are over 55,000 Canadians of Latin American heritage living in Alberta alone. This vibrant demographic is growing every year, and we should embrace the growing rate of Latin Americans coming to our beautiful country.

During the 1970s, Edmonton gave a warm welcome to a wave of Chilean and Argentinean refugees, following the military dictatorships that devastated these countries during that period. During the 1980s, the armed conflicts in Central America resulted in a wave of Salvadorian, Guatemalan, and Nicaraguan refugees coming to Edmonton, and there was also one refugee from Toronto during that time: me.

The Latin American community in Alberta is diverse and multi-ethnic, coming from several different areas, such as Mexico, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and even Africa and Europe. This legislation would recognize the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, cultural, and political fabric made by our dynamic Latin American community.

Latin American heritage month would join several other months that we celebrate, such as German Heritage Month, Asian Heritage Month, Italian Heritage Month, and all the other months, weeks, and days we celebrate in the House. Canadians of Latin American origin, like Canadians of other cultural origins, want to celebrate and maintain all of the best of their individual cultures and languages, as well as share them to enable all Canadians to join in the celebrations. In this case, celebrations would take place during the month of October.

As Bill S-218 honours Latin American culture and history, I want to highlight the outstanding achievements of a member of my own community, Alberta's own Victor Fernandez. After I tell members about everything he has contributed to Edmonton, to Alberta, and to all of Canada, it would not surprise me if someone suggested that we have a month just to honour him.

After immigrating to Canada from Chile, Mr. Fernandez joined St. Albert's fire and EMS services and had a remarkable 32-year career as a firefighter.

Mr. Fernandez is a hero to all Canadians and has dedicated his life to putting the safety of others ahead of his own in St. Albert and the surrounding areas.

In 1999, he made a significant contribution to his community by founding the Canadian Aid for Fire Services Abroad, CAFSA. His organization provides much-needed equipment and training to first responders in developing countries all over the world. Under his leadership, the CAFSA has received more than $6 million in donations, including 45 tonnes of firefighter and paramedic equipment and 15 fire trucks.

Mr. Fernandez never tires in his endless quest to better the world and help in any way he can. He has led missions to countless countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, and Paraguay. His motto is to “work for the citizens” and “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” He is truly a role model for all Canadians.

Mr. Fernandez's fantastic contributions have earned him the Cross of Fire from Ecuador's fire department. He was the first non-Ecuadorian in history to receive this honour.

In 2015, the Canadian Hispanic Congress and the Hispanic Business Alliance presented Mr. Fernandez with an award for being one of the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians. The city of St. Albert also declared him Citizen of the Year.

But wait, there is more.

Victor Fernandez has been the recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal, the Alberta Emergency Services Medal, the Outstanding Service Award by the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the St. Albert Community Recognition Pillar of the Community Award. He represents what it means to be a steward of his community.

Mr. Fernandez's tireless work in the Alberta community is greatly appreciated and we cannot thank him enough for everything he has done at home and abroad to make the world a better place.

Bill S-218 and Latin American heritage month will honour people like Victor and recognize the outstanding achievements of Latin Americans throughout Canadian history.

There are many Canadians of Latin American heritage who have made substantial contributions to science, sports, photography, entertainment, music, the clergy, and politics, so with my limited time left I would like to highlight just a couple tonight.

Our very own Hon. Vic Toews, who served Canadians in the House for 13 years, was born in Paraguay in 1952. The Hon. Vic Toews had an illustrious career in both provincial and federal politics, holding positions as minister of labour and justice in Manitoba, as well as federal minister of public safety, justice, and president of the Treasury Board.

During his time as a politician, he was a major advocate for building long-term economic security in Canada and creating jobs in his community.

As public safety minister, the Hon. Vic Toews supported the former prime minister's efforts to implement Canada's first counterterrorism and cybersecurity strategies as well as a human trafficking action plan.

He was known for being tough on crime because he valued the safety of the citizens in his community above all else.

Mr. Toews is a proud Manitoban and had the privilege of serving his community as the regional minister for the province. He represented the people with integrity, courage, and always ensured their voices were heard.

Another notable Latin American Canadian is Rafael Cruz, a Cuban American Christian preacher, public speaker, and father of Texas U.S. senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Rafael Cruz lived in Alberta for four years, albeit in Calgary but we cannot all be perfect, where he also witnessed the birth of his son. Cruz senior is a staple of the U.S. political and religious realms.

This legislation is an important step in recognizing the richness and diversity of Latin American languages and cultures while enabling future generations to learn about Latin American heritage.

By passing Bill S-218, the month of October will be dedicated to honouring the significant contributions of Latin Americans in this country. In doing so, we can thank them for all they have done to help make Canada the great country it is.

Bill S-218 will also stand as a major element of Senator Enverga's political legacy. As this legislation is one of his final pieces of unfinished business, it is my tremendous honour to support the bill in his memory.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
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Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently, and I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful comments made by the member for Edmonton West. I want to thank him for his faithfulness and hard work in Edmonton West. He pointed out that he was the 19th member in the House this evening to speak on this important bill. He also pointed out that we have not heard any comments from the silent majority sitting across the way. Not a single Liberal member has spoken on this tonight. I do not know why they would show disdain for the bill because it should be supported unanimously by every member in the House, including comments of support for Bill S-218. It is not too late for them to stand up and fulfill their responsibilities in speaking in favour of this important bill. Hopefully, that makes a difference.

Bill S-218 began with a vision of support from Senator Tobias Enverga, and we miss him. He did great work. The S in the bill, for those at home watching, means it began in the Senate. If it was a C it would have started in the House. The member who is supporting the bill in the House is another hard-working Conservative member, the member for Thornhill. I want to thank him for his hard work and support for the bill. It is worthy of support. It is at report stage, so that means it has gone through the committee process and now here we are at report stage, and very soon, hopefully, we will have unanimous support in the House.

Bill S-218 acknowledges the importance of Latin American culture in Canada. I am thrilled that there are other cultures in Canada that have already been acknowledged. For example, February is Black History Month. It is exciting that we have acknowledged that. May is Jewish Heritage Month. I am thrilled and want to thank the members across the way and on this side who supported that. May is also Asian Heritage Month. I am hoping that in time for this coming October, we will have Latin American heritage month.

My heritage is Ukrainian. My gido, my grandfather, came from Ukraine in 1906. Canada was very good to our country. We worked hard as a family. We helped build roads in Alberta. That is where the family homesteaded. I am honoured that as a member of Parliament from Canada, I will be able to go back to that little village in western Ukraine, Biliavtsi, just outside of Brody. There is Lviv, Brody, and Biliavtsi. That is where they came from in 1906. My grandfather was 16 years old when he came. Six months later, my grandfather Danello Warawa came. I will be the first from my family to actually return since 1906. I am thrilled to be going back there.

Our heritage is so important. I shared that just a little. I hope one day we will have a Ukrainian heritage month. Alberta has one. It got it right. September 7 is Ukrainian-Canadian Heritage Day in Alberta. Perhaps Canada could step up and do that. Perhaps one of the Liberal members, if they wake up and are ready to speak, could seek unanimous consent for that.

However, we are here tonight to talk about Bill S-218, Latin American heritage month. In Langley, in the constituency I represent of Langley—Aldergrove, every year we have the national cultural festival, and we have all the different cultures represented there, including the Latin American culture. What does that look like? Of course, there is the wonderful music and the costumes, and the wonderful, friendly people. Along with that are the wonderful Latin languages of Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English, all in Latin America. We enjoy the wonderful music and art that comes from that.

One of my favourite parts of the Latin American culture is the cuisine. I am sure I would have great support from each member in the House in enjoying that wonderful food.

When we spend time with people from Latin America and enjoy the culture, the music, the art, the food, and the wine, it is wonderful and we can imagine being there. I was thrilled to go to different parts of Latin America and a very small part of Mexico. Unfortunately, I have not been able to go south of Mexico, which is huge country. It is part of North America, but it is part of Latin America. Latin America goes down to Central and South America. It is beautiful and I have enjoyed the culture there.

Canadians are a diverse people. The majority of us have a history of immigration to this wonderful country. There are great opportunities and I hope there will be unanimous support when we have a chance to vote on this bill. I also want to encourage the government to create an environment where Canadians, particularly new Canadians, can thrive and have an opportunity to share their culture but also to get a good job. That means we need to have investment in this country.

The government has a responsibility to create that environment where people are willing to invest. With the growing taxes and ideologies we see from the government and not even wanting to speak to the bill, it is concerning. How much do the Liberals really care? How much is talk and how much is actually doing it?

The Liberals have a responsibility to speak up on important pieces of legislation like this and to create an environment where Canadians have a future, not only this generation. I have five children and 10 grandchildren. I want to wish all the fathers a very happy Father's Day coming up. We have a responsibility as men and women in the House to create an environment where not only this generation but the generations to come, our children, grandchildren, and their children, have a bright future.

Growing taxes are hurting Canadians. When I go home and enjoy my wonderful community, that is the common message I am hearing. Their concerns are growing that the government is not getting it right. Liberals need to listen to Canadians and they need to keep their promises. They need to respect cultures like the Latin American heritage month. I hope that they comment on this important piece of legislation.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:35 p.m.
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Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague said that he was the 19th speaker. I will be the 21st speaker. The 20th spot is in between and we thought the Liberals would fill it, since they have not gotten up to say a word about the bill. They have a chance, spot 20, to get up and speak and say something.

I am delighted to support Bill S-218, an act respecting the month of October as Latin American heritage month.

I want to pay tribute to the bill's sponsor, my very good friend from Ontario, the late senator Tobias Enverga Jr. Last year, Senator Enverga passed away while on a parliamentary visit to Colombia. I travelled with the senator many times to the Philippines and elsewhere, and I know that he was a great Canadian looking out for Canada's interests.

Latin America is in our hemisphere. It is part and parcel of the Americas. Therefore, it is critically important that we have strong relations. As a matter of fact, we have had a relationship with Latin America for a long time. In my own riding of Calgary Forest Lawn, the northern part is called the Latino village. It is home to thousands of Latin Americans of Chilean origin who escaped from Chile and made their home in this part of Canada. We, of course, always had a policy of giving shelter to those who are fleeing for human rights.

The Prime Minister said this on the world stage. However, the Liberals are not speaking on this bill. Therefore, I will explain that when the Conservatives were in power, we were the ones who actually felt that it was very important that we had a special relationship with Latin America. To that point, the former prime minister appointed my friend and colleague, the Hon. Diane Ablonzy, as well as the member for Thornhill, as special ministers of state in charge of Latin affairs. They were given a special responsibility to build relations between Canada and Latin America.

Part of my duty, as parliamentary secretary, was to represent Canada overseas. In fact, I travelled to many countries in Latin America, such as Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Guyana, and Mexico. While I was on a state visit to Brazil, we went to Trinidad and Tobago, and from there we could see Venezuela.

Venezuela is a country I will never forget, because this is where my effigy was burned. It is the only place in the world where somebody burned my effigy. Can members imagine that? The reason was that when former president Chávez died, I said that he was a dictator and a human rights abuser. Holy smokes, did they ever have a demonstration. They burned my effigy out in the water.

However, we have had great relations. We stand up through the Organization of American States with strong support for human rights, in this case for Venezuela. As members know, before the current government took steps, we had also taken strong steps to fight human rights abusers. However, in the larger scheme of things, we share this hemisphere with Latin America. Therefore, it is natural for us to ensure that we have a solid relationship.

My other colleagues gave the names of outstanding Canadians of Latin American origin who have contributed immensely to the well-being of our nation and for building our relationship. It is only natural that Conservatives put forward a bill to celebrate Latin American heritage month. There are close to half a million Latino Canadians living in our country. Therefore, it is very important that we celebrate their heritage.

When I was the president of the India Canada Association, there were cultural nights. One of the most exciting things to see were the Latino cultural dances and performances. The crowds were thrilled. Before I became a parliamentary secretary and visited many countries, I used to say that I did not have to go to Latin America because they are all here. I can watch them in my backyard or on the stage, because we in Canada are fortunate enough to share their culture. We all know their great culture. Who can forget the great parades in Brazil?

Ultimately, I am very glad that parliamentarians are speaking about recognizing their contributions. Somewhere along the line, I think one of you guys, in spot number 20, should get up and say something to recognize that these are great Canadians. A bit of input from your side would be fine. You are just sitting there—

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that somewhere down the line, there will be a few members from that part of the world in the Liberal caucus that will feel compelled to talk. It shows quite clearly that they really need some outreach programs, but we will do it, so do not worry about it. I know it is late, so we can throw a couple of rules out the window.

It has been an honour and a pleasure for me to recognize Latin Americans who have contributed. I have had the greatest honour and pleasure of visiting all of these countries. I was one of the parliamentary secretaries who visited most of the countries in the world and I had a great time in Latin America.

I will conclude by again saying that it is a great honour and privilege to have Latin Americans in Canada.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am a relatively new member here, so I am not fully aware of procedure in this place, and I admit I am still learning. I know generally that when the Speaker calls on members to speak, he operates on a list provided by the parties. If my understanding is correct, a member can catch the Speaker's eye and the Speaker can call on that person to speak. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if you could survey the other side of the House to see if someone is trying to catch your eye. I am looking for fairness in this place. I just do not want—

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have been here just over two and a half years. I have spoken many times on heritage, and I am a little disappointed that the other side, tonight, will not get up and speak. Heritage, in our country, is certainly deep in tradition. I think I am the 22nd speaker in row on this side tonight to speak on this. I am a little disappointed. I have a sports background, as members know, and usually when a team goes 22 straight, there is cheering. However, I am not cheering tonight, because 22 in a row is pretty embarrassing for the government, if I do say so.

I am very happy to speak on Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. This bill would declare every October to be Latin American heritage month.

Throughout this country, Latin American communities, as we all know, have played a tremendous role in adding to the cultural diversity of our country, and they continue to do so. Whether it is through music, language, art, dance, food, or even history, Latin American communities in this country certainly have new perspectives and learning opportunities for all people across this country.

According to the latest statistics from 2016, nearly 500,000 people in Canada are of Latin American descent. We know that these communities exist all across this country in cities like those that have been mentioned here tonight: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Many people have come to build their lives and make important contributions to this country.

In my community of Saskatoon, the Latin American community is growing pretty well. In fact, the co-founder of the Alerces Spanish Preschool and Kindergarten, Maru Aguirre says that in Saskatoon people can find a job. I would say they could find a job until 2015, but it has been a little more difficult in the last two and a half years, but they can find a life here in Saskatoon. It is a city of big opportunity. He also says that when he moved to Saskatoon from Colombia more than a decade ago he would never have heard someone talking Spanish on the streets of Saskatoon or in the mall or in the parks, but now it is happening more often than one would think. When we look at the stats, we definitely see growth in this area of linguistic diversity in my city of Saskatoon, and in fact the province of Saskatchewan.

Back in 2011, Canada census said 1,400 residents in my city spoke Spanish as their mother language, and 275 residents spoke Portuguese as their mother language. Then five years later, in 2016, these numbers have risen, with 400 more residents speaking Spanish. That's up to 1,800 speaking Spanish as their mother language, and 340 people speaking Portuguese as their mother language. These increases really represent strong additions to the multicultural fabric in my city, which makes Saskatoon even more vibrant and diverse as a result.

Since the 1970s, Canada's Latin American population has grown substantially. People from Latin America have come to this country seeking new opportunities to live in peace and prosperity, as well as the chance to add to our rich, cultural mosaic. Our community continues to share its culture with the rest of the country, and in doing so it makes Canada, let us face it, stronger. People from the Latin American community in Canada work in all walks of life, and share their heritage with the rest of us in this country, in many diverse and meaningful ways.

The Alerces school in Saskatoon, for example, provides children with an opportunity to speak Spanish in a caring and nurturing environment. These students benefit tremendously from this kind of multicultural education, and it is thanks to the wonderful teachers and staff from countries like Ecuador, Colombia, El Salvador, Chile, and Argentina, who make it all possible.

Throughout Canada, Latin American festivals further provide opportunities to celebrate and enjoy this diverse cultural heritage. We have talked about it tonight. In cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and here in Ottawa, they will all hold Latin festivals this summer.

I should add that in Saskatoon we have Folkfest that runs every August, and it is our major multicultural event. We welcome the Brazilian pavilion, the Peru pavilion is back up and running, and we have many more Latin American pavilions. It is three wonderful days, as the world comes to Saskatoon. Communities in our city are so proud to show their culture, dance, food, and hospitality.

These are just some of the many festivals that celebrate Latin American heritage in Canada.

We are all excited about Latin American heritage in the country. Before I go any further, I should remind everyone that it was the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who was appointed to the upper House in 2012, who argued that we should have a Latin American heritage month. He was so deserving of this national recognition, and we should certainly be reminded of that tonight. He passed about a year ago, in November, while visiting Columbia. We are all grateful to the hon. member for Thornhill for continuing to champion this private member's bill, and I wholeheartedly support having a designation of Latin American history month.

When I was in Saskatoon with my late parents, they welcomed a Chilean family that had to flee Chile in the late 1970s. I was in grade 11 at the time. I remember my parents bringing the family to our house for the first time. It was in the winter They were with us for many celebrations. I remember my parents' 40th wedding anniversary celebration, and they were involved in it. We opened our house to them and we were better for it. We really enjoyed the family and its experience. We also helped them get prepared for Canadian winters, to which they had a pretty tough time getting used.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Hugo Alvarado tonight. He is an artist who was born in Chile. He came to Saskatoon in 1976, with five dollars in his pocket. Hugo has his own unique style of landscapes, which can be found in many of our homes and businesses in my riding. In fact, I have a number of his paintings. I want to salute Hugo. This past year CTV Saskatoon presented him with the Citizen of the Year Award. It was a wonderful celebration, and we were on hand for that.

Hugo lives in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood, and I want to thank him for giving back to our community. He is the co-founder of Artists Against Hunger, a group of artists who have organized a multitude of auctions for fundraisers to help the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre, the Saskatoon Crisis Nursery, Friendship Inn, CHEP Good Food, Persephone Theatre, and the list goes on. He came, with his family, from Chile and started a new beginning in Saskatoon. Today, he is CTV Saskatoon's Citizen of the Year. It is a great tribute to a Latin American in our city.

As we all know, Latin American Canadians work in all sectors of our economy. We see it in Saskatoon. They are business owners, teachers, and engineers. It is important that tonight we recognize the value of our Latin American communities and their rich cultural heritage and are a part of the great fabric our country.

That is why we are so happy to support Bill S-218. We look forward to a unanimous private members' vote in support of the member for Thornhill.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
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Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to join in the debate this evening on a Senate bill. I believe that I am the 23rd MP to rise this evening in the House. As several other opposition members have mentioned, we have yet to hear a member of the government speak to this important bill.

This bill is important for two reasons. First, it is important for Senator Enverga, who died far too young. He was a good friend of the Conservatives. Furthermore, the House has already examined similar bills concerning other immigrant groups.

Therefore, I have the great pleasure of rising to support the bill of my colleague from Thornhill. It is also a pleasure to speak in French. This is an historic day not just because I am the 23rd MP to rise, but also because I am supporting a motion that was moved by an MP born in England and deals with Canadian culture and Latin American heritage. I am supporting a Senate bill introduced in the House by a senator born in the Philippines. I was born in Poland and today I can support this bill and talk about it in French. That is what Canada is about.

This connection between various continents could never happen in any other country in the world. Here in Canada's House of Commons, we have this unique opportunity to debate a rather straightforward bill among colleagues. The bill simply dedicates one month of our calendar to Canadians of Latin American origin. That is the beauty of Canada. It would be impossible to name another country where this kind of peaceful debate could take place.

The preamble of Bill S-218 states:

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that members of the Latin American community in Canada have made significant contributions to the social, economic and political fabric of the nation;

Whereas the designation of a month as Latin American Heritage Month would be a meaningful way to remember, celebrate and educate the public about these contributions;

Whereas Latin American communities across Canada would be mobilized by a Latin American Heritage Month to jointly celebrate, share and promote their unique culture and traditions with all Canadians;

And whereas October is a significant month for the Latin American community around the world;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

It is important to read this preamble since it reflects Senator Enverga's intention. More than just designate a specific month for a region in the world, Senator Enverga also wanted to promote Canada. I believe that aspect is very important.

It is therefore an honour for me to speak to the bill introduced by Senator Enverga before his passing and to support it. He was a great champion for ensuring that the bill got to the House of Commons through the other place. The bill seeks to recognize the invaluable contribution of the Latin American community in Canada to the social, economic, and political fabric of the nation. I should add that there is a tragic component to this. Indeed, I would have liked Senator Enverga to be with us today to take part in the debate on his initiative.

I want to take a moment to talk about our colleague, Tobias Enverga. He was one of our great colleagues. He was the first Canadian of Filipino origin to sit in the Senate. He was born in the Phillippines, as I said earlier.

He represented Ontario in the upper chamber, where he was appointed in 2012. His was a proud and very positive voice not only for the Filipino community, but also for a host of others in the greater Toronto area and across the country. He was respected by Senate and House colleagues alike for his kindness, his warm sense of humour, and his unparalleled work ethic. He was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. He served as a Catholic School Board trustee and became known in Toronto for launching the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation.

We know that our colleague, Senator Enverga, died Thursday, November 16 while on parliamentary business in Colombia. Despite his tragic and untimely passing, Senator Enverga's Latin American heritage month bill does live on. It was passed in the other place, and today, we resume this debate in his honour, which I believe is very important.

The top three South American countries with the highest populations living in Canada, according to census statistics, are Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador. The three countries from South America with the smallest populations now living in Canada are Puerto Rico, Panama, and Costa Rica. Most Canadians of Latin American origin live in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. I will talk more about some of them that I know in Calgary who have made a tremendous contribution to Calgary's civic, cultural, and political community. Nearly half of them have settled in the provinces that I just mentioned.

Canada's Latin American population is young. Statistics Canada tells us that almost 50% of those with Latin American origins living in Canada are under the age of 25. They are very young. Seniors make up less than 5% of those reporting Latin American origins, compared with 12% of all other Canadians.

I know that MPs enjoy a good celebration. Many of us, on this side of the House, have talked about the things we like the most about Latin American culture, such as the food from a certain country, or another country's signature dance styles. We have talked about a number of activities that take place across the country to celebrate the multi-dimensional Latin American community. A perfect example of this is the annual salsa festival in Toronto on St. Clair Avenue. Last year's event was held on a street downtown that was closed to traffic and, from what I heard, hundreds of thousands of people and a record number of musicians, dancers, families, and enthusiasts came out to enjoy the sounds, attractions, flavours, dances, and colours of the Americas.

Calgary has a Latin festival. This is a free, family-oriented annual festival. I think this year is the 24th edition. It is being held on July 20 and 21 this year, and I encourage everyone to attend. I have gone to this festival many times. There is also Expo Latino, which is held at the Prince's Island Park and has been running for over 20 years. This year, more than 300 musicians from around the globe will be performing. Calgarians will get to hear Latin American songs and musicians. The website Hola Calgary has plenty of information about Calgary's Latin American community and its achievements.

I would like to talk about two eminent colleagues of mine in the civic community and the political and cultural life of Calgary. One of them is now in Halifax. I am referring to Dr. Marco Navarro-Génie, a good friend of mine who is now the president and CEO of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, or AIMS. The other colleague is Josué Ramirez, who served as an assistant deputy minister in Venezuela's former government. He has always championed human rights in Venezuela. He is a man who is always ready to talk about human rights, what is happening, and the activities that are going on. If a vote needs to be set up in Calgary for the Venezuelan election, we contact Josué and ask him to organize it. Without him, Calgary's Venezuelan community could not get anything done. It is vital to have champions of Latin American culture like Josué in our communities.

Consequently, I will be supporting this bill, with my friends and colleagues in this community in mind. I urge all members to speak and to support this bill.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 9:05 p.m.
See context


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to stand today and to speak to our colleague's bill, Bill S-218. I know it has been mentioned a number of times. I would appear to be the 24th speaker from this side of the House to speak to this important piece of legislation. Thank goodness the Standing Orders dictate that the government cannot put time allocation on private members' bills because this might be one of the only pieces of legislation in recent days and perhaps weeks that we are not seeing time allocation on. It is a very important piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, you would be forgiven if you perhaps, or anybody who is listening, might have thought that our Conservative assistants or indeed our Conservative colleagues might have colluded in actually sharing speaking notes, and maybe perhaps we wrote the same speech. However, this is just a testimony that we are unanimous in our support and unanimous in how fond we were of Senator Enverga, and how unanimous we are in support of Bill S-218.

Another part that I was going to mention was I think our colleagues from all sides of the House will be happy that probably they are not going to have to listen to me go on and on about Arctic surf clam and the fact that the member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook's brother received a lucrative surf clam quota from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. The reason I bring that up is, interestingly enough, when I was doing some research on this bill I found a connection to our South American friends and our Latin American heritage. When I was in Grand Bank, Newfoundland I listened to the mayor talking about the history of fisheries in his town and talking about how devastating this surf clam quota expropriation was going to be, where there is 500 years of fisheries history. It got me thinking about the importance of our senator and former colleague's bill. The reason is that a staple of the South American culture's diet is indeed dried or salted fish. That started about 500 years ago and has some of its origins there. Some say it can be traced to just off the shores of Newfoundland, the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.

There might be some members who are shouting “relevance”, but there is indeed some relevance. While we are celebrating this bill that looks to celebrate Latin American heritage month and celebrate our connections to Latin America, it is again the good people of Newfoundland who started a fishery and a product that now is a staple in South American countries' diet. That is something we should all be proud of. Indeed, when we move forward and this bill passes, that is something that would be probably a staple at any of the celebrations. It would be salted cod or salted fish, and again that got its start in an area that now is facing some uncertain times because of the minister's questionable decision to expropriate a lucrative surf clam quota and give it to the member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook's brother, but I said was not going to mention that.

Tonight is about celebrating our hon. colleague, Senator Enverga, and his love of this country and his love of all Canadians. It has been said before, but it should be said again and again, as much as we can, that Senator Enverga came to Canada as an immigrant himself. He was extremely proud of his adopted country. He used every chance he had to talk about what Canada meant to him. He was the first Filipino senator to be appointed here in Canada. He wore his heart on his sleeve and how proud he was of our country; we could see it in his smile. We called him “Jun”.

I had really a brief time with him, but I want to bring members back to one of my very first experiences with the senator. As a matter of fact, it was a multi-party event and I had no idea who this guy was, but his excitement and his love for culture were infectious.

He was dressed in a cultural outfit. He was dancing and bringing everyone around with him. That was one of the first all-party cultural events that I attended with Senator Enverga. As a new member of Parliament who arrived in Ottawa bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and full of excitement to serve Canadians, this was someone that I looked to. I looked to emulate his excitement to serve our country.

There are few countries in the world that are as open and accepting as Canada. Senator Enverga embraced the multicultural nature of this great nation. Indeed, our cultural fabric is made up of Canadians from all over the world. We are all immigrants. Senator Enverga relished the success of all cultural groups as they brought forward their traditions and shared them with this country. The senator used his position to bring about positive change. We heard how he impacted all of our colleagues, at least on this side of the House because we have yet to hear from the other side of the House in this debate.

The senator used his position to enlighten and enhance the very fabric of our multicultural society and in his speech on this bill he outlined the months that we already recognize such as Black History Month and Asian Heritage Month. In his speech he was so passionate about this. He believed we should be celebrating this because we are all immigrants.

These dedicated months open the door to another world perspective for all Canadians. If we lose our culture we lose our understanding of where we have been and we will never know where we are going.

They help us to broaden our minds through festivals, food, traditions, and heritage moments that bring us closer together as a people. What is it to be Canadian? What separates us from others? What is it that drives us to build upon our shared experiences? It is our willingness to experience and accept difference, to embrace and integrate stories from our past, to learn from the challenges that face our fellow Canadians, and to share in those collective stories that broaden our base of knowledge so that we may collectively move forward.

Senator Enverga's desire, passion, and his championship of all things multicultural were inspiring to all who had the good fortune to meet him. He would say that our strength as a nation, as a people, lies in our ability to embrace the diversity of our different cultures. We are after all, and I have said this three times, immigrants. We all come from somewhere.

Senator Enverga was greatly respected by the Senate and by House colleagues alike. He was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and we had conversations because I too have a daughter with special needs and disabilities. He shared his family's experience as well.

He was a co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship Group and inaugurated the annual Filipino independence day flag-raising on Parliament Hill, which we just celebrated the other day.

I was only afforded a short time to work with Senator Enverga and to observe his passion for all Canadians and the House. He was taken from us all too soon and I can think of no greater tribute to a man than to pass this bill and recognize the month of October as Latin American heritage month.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 9:15 p.m.
See context


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased, rather happy, and also thankful for this opportunity to stand here tonight in Ottawa, in the House of Commons, to speak about a topic that I grew up knowing and hearing about from my family. My father was in Latin America, as were my uncles, my grandfather, my nephew, and my brother. The Lebanese diaspora is all over the world, and specifically in that part of the world, which means a lot to us. It is close to our minds and our hearts by many measures. We heard all these wonderful stories about Latin America, about the culture, the people, the food, the music, and the nice weather they enjoy. Everything about this colourful and beautiful image of this culture we were able to enjoy and appreciate back home in Lebanon. However, hearing those stories, we could only imagine how nice that land and those people were.

I had the opportunity to travel a lot in my life before this life, and through my political career since 2015. I have travelled to Venezuela in the past, to Mexico many times, and to Cuba. I was introduced to the cultures in Argentina, and many other places. I know how wonderful this culture is.

Today, it is a great pleasure to support Bill S-218. The best part about this, besides the importance of it, is that when talking about this topic everybody has approached it with the same sentiment, because it really touches all of us in different ways.

I wanted to ensure that I spoke to this bill, and I was grateful for this opportunity, not only to highlight the importance of the Latin American people to Canada's culture and prosperity, but also as a testament to the late Senator Tobias Enverga. Many of the members in this House and I paid a brief homage to the senator earlier this week in recognition of the 120th anniversary of the independence of the Philippines.

Speaking of the Philippines, I was there about two or three weeks ago. We were in Manila. I cannot express enough how many times the name of Senator Enverga came up during conversations. For the 865,000 Filipinos in Canada, this wonderful community that we all enjoy and respect, this one individual was a bridge between Canada and the Philippines. He offered so much in terms of service, understanding, experience, and his knowledge with respect to what we need to know about the Philippines. This is why we respect and understand this community so much, and recognize how much it has contributed to Canada, along with all the other communities in our wonderful country. Senator Enverga was the first Filipino senator. He had a keen appreciation for multiculturalism, and believed that our diversity was one of Canada's greatest strengths.

I would also like to echo the sentiment that I am very pleased to stand in support of the senator's bill. I feel a bit saddened tonight that he is not around to witness this bill that he brought forward initially, to hear those sentiments, and to share with us, as we share with his memory, all of the contributions that he has made to make us understand this experience and this culture that we appreciate every day.

Those watching the debate this evening at home may not be aware that Latin America is generally understood to stretch from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Argentina, including parts of the Carribean, and encompasses the countries that recognize one of the Romance languages as one of its official languages. This encompasses well over 600 million people, in 20 countries.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of travelling to Nicaragua with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. I can tell endless stories about how much I enjoyed that country, that stretch of what they call the“ Dry Corridor”. It rains maybe once a year or once every two years. However, what one sees is more important than nature and scenery. The beauty of the country is the people, the culture, the music, and the food. Everything about that part of the world makes one wonder if there are other places in the world with the romance and beauty we strive to experience.

If members ever have an opportunity to go to Nicaragua, I highly encourage them to do so. It is not far in terms of travelling. Nicaragua is growing and emerging nicely with the help of Canada and other countries, especially from the European Union. One thing is Nicaraguan people are very smart. They are very dedicated. They are hard working. They are trying hard. They want to build and provide themselves and their children these wonderful opportunities. I am very optimistic that as a nation they will overcome some difficulties on the safety and security issues. At the end of the day, they will emerge as a strong nation, a nation which we will enjoy working and dealing with.

I have a respectful Nicaraguan community in my riding. I have a couple of families from Nicaragua that are very close friends to our family. We get invitations every year to visit.

I think there are Latin American communities are in all our ridings. In my riding I had to meet with them in 2015 and 2014 previously. However, in 2015, I had the opportunity to meet with many of them living in one or two of the areas in Edmonton Manning. One of the members has a magazine called Soy Hispano. That covers the communities from Chile, Columbia, Mexico, and El Salvador. I put a monthly article in that magazine. I speak to that community with passion about how much we appreciate them and their contribution among all other communities in Canada.

I believe all members in the House share that appreciation of Latino Canadians. However, it is important that we do not just pay lip service to these communities, but actively support them in their countries of origin, as we do on many fronts and in many places.

A private member's motion passed in the House read in part, “That, in the opinion of the House, the extreme socialist policies and corruption of President Nicolas Maduro” in Venezuela. It is sad to hear about the damage that regime has done to Venezuela, since President Hugo Chavez until now. I speak about Venezuela with such passion because my father made his first money there. I know exactly how Venezuela was in the past and where it is now. We hope we can continue to help these countries and their people to overcome dictatorship regimes, build their economies, and help them to prosper because they deserve that.

We know that sometimes ideologies blind us to what is happening around us. At the end of the day, we know people will win at the end because freedom is very precious, and the price of it is not free.

Therefore, I am pleased to support Bill S-218 to designate each October as national Latin American heritage month. I look forward to celebrating it with Latin American communities in my riding next October.