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 / 9:25 p.m.
See context


Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, tonight I would like to celebrate my son's 15th birthday. It is actually tomorrow morning, but I was in labour by this time. I wish Christian a happy birthday. I know he is watching and I look forward to spending the rest of the summer with him. He is also a great basketball player.

Today I am honoured to speak to this bill. My father-in-law Mario Vecchio would be proud of me. He is a resident of Cancun, Mexico. He is a resident of Latin America although he lives in both Brazil and Mexico.

Canada's population includes a large population of Latin Americans. Many cultural celebrations take place, including different festivals and dances. Whether at the Mexican festival in London, Ontario or at the Latin American Film Festival in Vancouver, B.C., there is always a lot to do when it comes to the Latin American culture, including lots of things to do with food and dance.

One of the greatest impacts to Canada is something we see every summer. I am sure many parents here and across Canada go to the soccer field throughout the summer. I usually spend four nights a week and a lot of time on weekends at the soccer field.

For years, we have been inspired by the love of soccer, not only through our European ancestors but also from our friends to the south. Children fill our soccer fields at night throughout the summer and on weekends pretending to be the greatest soccer players in the world, including Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi or Hugo Sanchez. Children run down the field, scoring goals, then raising their shirts after their goals, imitating some of the greatest athletes from Latin America.

This influence also was highlighted today with the announcement that Canada, Mexico, and the United States will be hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup. I congratulate all the groups that worked together to put this bid forward. It will be very exciting and great for Canada.

It is just about soccer though. In Canada, we have been impacted by Latin American music and arts.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to travel with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to both Argentina and Chile. Although we were there to study poverty reduction strategies, we had the opportunity to embrace the culture as well.

In Chile, we were entertained by traditional dancers. Like all other peoples, Chileans manifest their character through celebrations and rituals and revel through their folk dancing. The minister and I had the opportunity to watch some of the incredible performances while there.

Today we also see these types of dances being performed throughout Canada. We see a lot of people dancing, such as ballroom dancing, for which my husband and I took lessons. If anyone wants to see me dance later, I will do that. It is definitely not a highlight. The Trote is a traditional dance of the Highlands. The dancers trot and turn, whipping their hands and scarves in the air. The minister and I both had a chance to see it.

We also had a chance to see the Guaracha Campesina. This dance is a mixture of Columbian and Cuban dances and became popular in the 1940s. The dancers move in time to the music but they do not have any physical contact with other dancers, something we do not see very much anymore.

Then there is the Tamure, which is one of the most popular dances on the island. It has many free-flowing, fast leg, and pelvic movements. The Tamure is an allegory of fertility and it is thought to be related to traditional Tahitian dances.

Food is also a great part of the Latin American culture. Although people from Alberta will disagree with me on this, and I apologize to all of my Alberta colleagues, but a trip to Argentina is supposed to be all about the country's legendary steak.

I want to tell a story about my trip to Chile and Argentina. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not eat fish and seafood. While there, I only ate fish and not eat red meat. While I was on this trip, I enjoyed a lot of Chilean salmon and everything that was fish and seafood. I managed to get through it thanks to my husband, who kept telling me I could do it. I also enjoyed key lime salmon, especially with a couple of glasses of wine.

Chimichurri is Argentina's go-to condiment. It is a green salsa made of finely chopped parsley, oregano, onion, garlic, chilli pepper flakes, olive oil and a touch of acid such as vinegar or lemon.

Through the arts, we also learned of their leaders and celebrities, including Eva Perón.

Eva Perón used her position as the first lady of Argentina to fight for women's suffrage and improving the lives of the poor. She was born in Los Toldos, Argentina and moved to Buenos Aires in the 1930s, where she became a successful actress. In 1945, she married Juan Perón, who became president of Argentina the following year.

Eva Perón used her position as first lady to help people and became a legendary figure. Unfortunately she died in 1952. Since her death, though, Perón's life continues to fascinate people around the world. The story of a poor girl who became a prominent political power has been the subject of countless books, films, and plays. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote the hit musical Evita, which was based on Perón's life. Madonna played Perón in the 1996 film, with Antonio Banderas portraying Che Guevara.

While I was touring Argentina, I also had a chance to see her gravesite. It was fascinating, because it is very unlike what we see in Canada, where there are vast plots of land and many people are buried. There, it was a very small compact area. All of the gravesites were pushed together and all enclosed in a cement wall. All of the monuments were extraordinarily tall and beautiful. It was absolutely a wonderful piece to see. Knowing that one of the greatest women in Argentina was laid to rest in Buenos Aires, I knew that so much had been done in that country through the movements with which she was involved.

Now I will talk about Mexico. I am fortunate to have a father-in-law who lives in Mexico. Whenever we are down there, he has us take part in some of the culture. Whether it is the food or hospitality, Mexico is all about the tourism industry. In Mexico, family is the most important element in society and many of the families living outside of the cities are very large. They are very conscious of their immediate family members and extended families, even close cousins and friends. Their families are much larger than here. Everybody is auntie or an uncle and seem to be related.

It is not only about Mexican food; it is also about the Mexican drink. Anytime people are in Mexico, I am sure a bit of salt and lime will help them with the tequila that they are expected to have a swig of. It is made of agave cactus, which is well suited to the climate of central Mexico. Soda is also popular in Mexico, though I find it very pricey. I also learned that sometimes one just had to do what one's father-in-law says. Although he calls me is his bossy daughter-in-law, one day a year I allow him to tell me what to do. He makes me squeeze lime on squid and swallow it. It is absolutely horrendous. He tells me that I am supposed to chew it, but I do not believe that. I do not think anyone can chew squid. Learning to eat raw food and sometimes living things is crazy.

All of these things we have adopted, food, the dance, festivals, and sports, as part of our Canadian culture. We have taken part in many of the festivities. Latin American heritage month would be October, when we would celebrate Latin America and its heritage. Latin Americans are a huge part of our culture here. I believe I am the 26th Conservative to speak to this bill tonight, which is very important to the Conservative caucus as it was put forward by senator Tobias Enverga. I thank his family very much for sharing him with us during his time in Parliament. He had an incredible impact on everybody and a wonderful smile that made everyone feel welcomed.

In honour of all Latin Americans, let us dance, let us eat, let us celebrate the culture of the Latin American countries, and let us all vote in favour of this tremendous bill.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 9:35 p.m.
See context


David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of Bill S-218 and the establishment of a Latin American heritage month here in Canada.

I would be remiss if I did not begin by acknowledging the late Senator Enverga, who passed away last November. Senator Enverga, of course, was an immigrant to Canada from the Philippines, and was the first Filipino Canadian to be appointed to the Senate. He was a great parliamentarian and a passionate advocate and voice for Latin Americans here in Canada. He is sorely missed by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him.

This bill seeks to establish October of every year as Latin American heritage month in recognition of the substantial contributions that the Latin American community has made to the social, economic, and political fabric of our country. It seeks to recognize great Canadians like Dr. Ivar Mendez, a world renowned neurosurgeon whose research on Parkinson's Disease, and the use of remote presence robots for medical care in neurosurgery, has earned him international acclaim. Dr. Mendez is also an active humanitarian, having established neurosurgical units in several developing countries, and having founded the Ivar Mendez International Foundation, which provides health and educational assistance for students in Bolivia. He is a recipient of the Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Alberto Guerrero is another Latin American who comes to mind, a great Chilean Canadian pianist who influenced several generations of Canadian musicians and who was widely considered one of, if not the pre-eminent music teacher in Canada, having taught historic musicians like Glenn Gould. His influence can be felt throughout Canadian music to this day. Mr. Guerrero is just one member of the Latin American Canadian community who has contributed to a rich Canadian literature and arts scene.

This community has also had a great impact on our national culture through sport. There are countless Latin American Canadian athletes, and I believe my colleague will name a number of them, in soccer, hockey, baseball, football, and other sports, who have made great contributions to Canadian culture. They are not only athletes, but they serve as role models for so many young Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

These are just some examples of the many individuals that Latin American heritage month will allow us to recognize and celebrate.

Equally as important is the fact that this bill allows us to celebrate the success of so many Latin American Canadians and the triumphs they have made despite such long odds, with many having come to Canada in search of a better life or fleeing poor conditions and human rights violations in their home countries.

Throughout the 42nd Parliament, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights has studied the human rights situation in Latin America on multiple occasions. In May of 2016, the subcommittee heard a delegation from the Venezuelan National Assembly, and the picture they painted was quite grim.

The Maduro regime has actively sought to delegitimize elected members of the National Assembly, and has issued prison sentences against assembly members to further its anti-democratic agenda. The average Venezuelan faces a severe lack of access to food and to medicine, with citizens only able to find two of 10 food staples and one in 10 medicines. The delegation highlighted that over the period from 2014 to 2016, poverty was projected to jump from 48% to above 80%.

In 2017, we received an update on the situation by Lilian Tintori, a Venezuelan democracy advocate and the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was joined by the hon. Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice. They provided testimony on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela. The situation from the previous year had gotten even worse, with more prisoners of conscience being denied their very basic human rights, and the democratic process being undermined by a tyrannical regime reinforced by its stacked supreme court. These awful conditions have only gotten worse since then.

This heritage motion will help us to remember and advocate for all of those Venezuelans seeking the justice, democracy, and human rights that we enjoy.

In June 2016, we heard testimony concerning the situation in Honduras, where human rights are regularly challenged by insecurity and impunity. Officials from Global Affairs Canada briefed the subcommittee on issues of mass violence and corruption, particularly targeted at human rights defenders and activists.

Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia, indigenous human rights defenders, were both gunned down in separate incidents in March 2016. These murders provoked international responses, with our own government condemning the murders and urging the Honduran authorities to ensure justice.

As long as these challenges to human rights protections and law and order exist, long-term development is impossible, and the most vulnerable groups, namely women, children, and indigenous peoples, will continue to struggle. This heritage month bill will remind us of the Hondurans seeking the promise of peace, order, and good government that we enjoy.

The subcommittee also received an update in June 2017 on the situation in Guatemala from Luis García Monroy, the co-founder of Youth Organized in the Defense of Life. Mr. García Monroy told the committee that government corruption and acts of impunity have led to legal, physical, and political attacks on human rights activists. He told us that Guatemalan government forces forcibly displaced families and criminalized human rights defenders. These crimes are totally unacceptable under international human rights law and what is expected of a government with respect to protecting the rights of its citizens.

The countries and situations that I have just highlighted are only a few of the difficult situations in Latin America, the ones that our subcommittee has been able to study. While we have not had the opportunity to study the poor conditions facing people in Cuba, or in many regions of Mexico, this gives some context to just how much adversity so many have to overcome. In this light, thousands have come to Canada from Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, and numerous other countries across Latin America in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

Throughout our history, Canada has welcomed these thousands of migrants and refugees who have since become part of the very fabric of our communities across the country. Many of these fine Canadians are truly unsung heroes who contribute to our community on a daily basis. They are small business owners, volunteers, activists, and public servants. They have achieved so much and helped us build a better country despite the long odds and suffering that they may have faced in their birth countries. It is through these individuals and others that we have developed such a strong, multicultural society here in Canada. It is through celebrating these communities that we can continue to embrace that multicultural identity that we as Canadians enjoy and are so proud of.

This bill can also help to grow our relationship with these communities and celebrate the positive influence that Canada can have abroad. I highlight the positive influence on these countries that Canada can achieve, not just in accepting migrants but also in diplomacy, because diligent diplomacy can improve the human rights situation in developing countries. There is a perfect example from the previous Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper, which negotiated a free trade agreement with Colombia. Since then, Colombia is one of the only countries in the region where the human rights situation has gotten better.

This Latin American heritage month bill would only further grow these ties between Canada and Latin American communities, and hopefully spur positive relations and human rights development between our country and those in the Latin American region.

I will conclude by once again acknowledging the late Senator Enverga and thanking him for his dedication to Canada and his passion to serve. Latin American heritage month will truly be a lasting symbol of his legacy. May God bless Senator Enverga's family. May God bless Canada. May God bless Latin America.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
See context


Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this evening. First, I would like to recognize a former Huron—Bruce resident and former classmate of mine in high school, Shauna Hemingway. She is Canada's ambassador to the Dominican Republic and has been a tremendous public servant for many years.

October is the month that would be designated. In the areas I hang out, and for baseball fans around the world, October has always been known as the month of the fall classic. I am going to take a little lighter look at the bill tonight and look at the Latin American contribution to Canadian culture and its impact from a baseball perspective.

First, we will start back in 1954 in Montreal with the Montreal Royals. Who played for the 1954 Montreal Royals? It was not Jackie Robinson. It was a young Puerto Rican player by the name of Roberto Clemente, who would go on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, with 3,000 hits, a .300 batting average, and many illustrious years in the major leagues, until his untimely death in the seventies. That was really a great beginning for the Latin American impact on Canada and sports. I should also mention Roberto Clemente was the first Latin American World Series champion.

After that, a few years passed and we had the Expos in Montreal in the late sixties. Of course everyone loves the Expos now. Who was perhaps one of the most famous Montreal Expos pitchers of all time? It was El Presidente, El Perfecto, Dennis Martinez. Dennis played for the Expos. Dennis is from Nicaragua. He was the first Nicaraguan to play in the major leagues. He played for the Expos from 1986 to 1993. Dennis Martinez had 245 wins. He had a 13th perfect game in 1991. His nickname out of that was El Presidente, El Perfecto. In 2016, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario, which is, of course, in the riding of seatmate here from Perth—Wellington.

Years later, who came along? Vladimir Guerrero from Dominican Republic. He played for the Expos from 1996 to 2003. He probably had the best outfield arm of all time. Sorry, Jesse Barfield. Expos fans will remember a throw that Vladimir Guerrero made against the Blue Jays in 2001, where he picked the ball right out of the air, threw it home, approximately 300 feet, and got Alberto Castillo out at home plate. It was probably one of the best outfield throws of all time. Vladimir Guerrero went on to have a .318 batting average, 449 career home runs, 2,590 hits, and was inducted into the hall of fame in Cooperstown, unfortunately with the L.A. Angels, but of course some of his best years were with the Expos, obviously.

Another famous Expo who was there for a short period of time was Pedro Martinez. He played from 1994 to 1997. He was the 1997 Cy Young Award winner. Of course, he is a hall of famer as well.

Then there is the Big Cat, Andrés Galarraga, the big first baseman from Venezuela, maybe a precursor to Melky Cabrera. He played from 1985 to 1991 and had a couple of great seasons at the Olympic stadium.

A couple of other well-received and well-thought-of Dominican Republic players were Moisés Alou. He had a great swing, and was a right-hander. There was also Felipe Alou. A lot of people do not know this, but Moisés actually played for the Montreal Expos and was a coach in the Montreal Expos system for many years. He was likely their best coach. From 1992 to 2001, he had over 1,000 career wins. That was a great era. Moisés is still alive today in Dominican Republic.

A couple of other Latin American Expos I should mention are Javier Vázquez and, because it is after nine o'clock I think we can say this, Big Sexy, Bartolo Colón. He is a five-foot 10-inch, 280-pound pitcher, and he is still throwing, at 45 years of age, for the Texas Rangers.

In the 1970s, in Toronto, that was really the epicentre of where Latin American influence came in Canadian baseball, and probably in North American baseball. There was the expansion. We had the Toronto Blue Jays. There was a new GM, from the New York Yankees, Pat Gillick, and an exceptional scout, Epy Guerrero. It was really he and another scout, from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who started the first Dominican Republic baseball academy, which really put the Dominican on the map.

The Blue Jays first team had three Latin Americans: Pedro Garcia, Hector Torres, and Otto Velez, two from Puerto Rico and one from Mexico. Does anyone remember the 1979 co-rookie of the year? It was Alfredo Griffin. This will be trivia some day.

Damaso Garcia was a second baseman for the Blue Jays from 1980 to 1986.

We then get into the glory years, with Jorge Bell, later to be known as George Bell, who was a little crusty, but a great player. He was plucked from the Philadelphia Phillies. He played in 1981 and from 1983 to 1990. He was the 1987 MVP, had 47 home runs in 1987, with a 308 batting average and 134 RBIs that year. It is the only reason a guy from Clinton knows where San Pedro de Macoris is in the Dominican Republic. He is in the Level of Excellence for the Blue Jays.

A sweet fielding shortstop came along around the same time from the Dominican Republic, Tony Fernández. He threw sidearm from shortstop, was a leader in hits, played two times. He is in the Level of Excellence and a great guy.

Probably the best Blue Jay of all time to ever play was Robbie Alomar, from Puerto Rico. He was a hall of famer from 1991 to 1995, had 10 Gold Gloves, 12 All-Stars. He is in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. He is in Cooperstown. He hit 300 for a career, with over 27 hits and almost 500 stolen bases.

Does anyone remember Bam Bam, Carlos Delgato, from Puerto Rico? He was Level of Excellence. He should have been in the Hall of Fame as well. He had over 400 homers and 1,500 RBIs.

The latest two or three were José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación. Who can forget those two? Honourable mention: does anyone remember Juan Guzman, Manny Lee, Alex Rios, and Junior Felix?

Today's excellent Latin American Blue Jays include Teoscar Hernández, Marco Estrada, when he can get the change-up over, and Jaimie García, when he remembers to throw strikes. Who is the crown jewel of Latin American baseball today? It is Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Who can forget the walk-off home run in Montreal in April, one of the most memorable home runs in Canadian history? Maybe it was not quite as much as Joe Carter's, but Joe was not born in Latin America.

I think back to some of the journalists who have covered the Jays through the years: Stephen Brunt, Jeff Blair, Richard Griffin, and Bob Elliott. I would love to hear all their thoughts.

Some of the all-time greats from the Dominican Republic are David “Big Papi” Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Adrian Beltre, and Julio Franco.

From Colombia are Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera.

From Panama is Mariano Rivera.

From Mexico, does anyone remember “El Toro”, Fernando Valenzuela, who is 60 years old, and Fernandomania, from the 1980s?

I want to go through a few more.

From Venezuela there is José Altuve, Elvis Andrus, Félix Hernández, Victor Martinez, Bobby Abreu, Andres Galarraga, Miguel Cabrera, and Adrián Beltré.

From Cuba, because they are able to come across now and play, there is Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, and his 106-mile-an-hour fastball, Yoenis Céspedes, and Yasiel Puig. How is my pronunciation in Spanish?

I should also mention that I played a couple of years of collegiate baseball in Tennessee, and many of my teammates were from Puerto Rico. There was Alex Colon and Ramon Lopez. I forget some of them now, it has been so many years. This haircut is a dead giveaway. There was Danny Alvarez and Enrique Lazu. I have so many great memories.

Let us make no mistake, some of these were the greats of all time. They put Canadian baseball on the map. God bless Latin America.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 9:55 p.m.
See context


Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, seriously, it is almost embarrassing to have to follow my colleague from Huron—Bruce, who listed many athletes of Latin American heritage living in Canada and North America who have accomplished amazing things in baseball, football, hockey, and soccer. I loved his fantastic presentation and his fine speech.

As usual, I would like to begin by saying hello to all my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are listening this evening, I am sure.

I am very proud to participate in this debate on Bill S-218, which was introduced in the other place by our valiant and very honourable colleague, Senator Enverga, who sadly passed away over a year ago. God rest his soul. Our colleague from Thornhill is now sponsoring this bill in the House of Commons.

The Liberals are not participating in tonight's debate, which is unfortunate. As a number of my colleagues have pointed out this evening, there are more than half a million people of Hispanic American heritage living in Canada. They have an incredible history, and they play an extraordinary role in our society in many different ways. It is therefore important to talk about the cultural, political, and economic contributions they have made to our country.

I would like to point out that Quebec City is no exception in that regard. Quebec City is home to a large Colombian community, and every year, they host a wonderful fiesta in Beauport Bay, in my riding. I am sure it will be happening again this summer.

I would like to make a comparison and share it with all the members of the House this evening. I would actually like to talk about some of the similarities that unite North America and South America. There are historical, political, geopolitical, economic, sociological, and even anthropological similarities. It is, after all, the Americas. We share two continents and a very common history.

First of all, from an anthropological perspective, this is an important debate, and there are several theories. There is the Clovis First theory, which holds that nomadic peoples came from Asia via the Bering Strait about 10,000 years ago and populated all of America. As a result, the first settlers in North America or South America would have been descendants of those same nomadic peoples from Asia. There are also counter-theories that claim they arrived via the Pacific coast 30,000 years ago. Regardless, the two continents certainly share similarities, anthropologically speaking.

We also share similar histories. This is the New World. Christopher Columbus landed near Cuba, if I am not mistaken. At the time, he discovered the Americas on behalf of the Europeans. He discovered the New World. Jacques Cartier, Jean Cabot, and all those explorers revealed the existence of new, albeit already inhabited, lands to all of humanity, meaning Europeans, philosophers, writers, explorers, and monarchs. They discovered vast lands that were then colonized. We know the history. One very tangible historical legacy that both North America and South America share is colonialism. Conquistadors from South America conquered Central America and even parts of California and Florida, all the way to Tierra del Fuego in South America.

There were the colonialists in New France, which is where I am from, and in New England. Once again, we share similar histories and experiences with colonialism.

Another aspect of our shared history is the earliest form of modern capitalism: mercantilism. In this triangular trade, Europeans sailed to Africa to acquire slaves and brought resources back to England on the same ships. It was all deeply tragic, of course, but it is a historical fact. We must not fear history. Mercantilism is another thing we have in common with South America.

From a geopolitical perspective, it is interesting to note that, around the same time, in the 15th, 16th, or 17th century, South America was divided in two by the pope, though I do not remember which one. The pope divided South America into two vast geopolitical regions, one Portuguese and the other Spanish.

In North America, the treaty that ended the Seven Years' War divided the territory between the British and the French, so from a geopolitical perspective, we have that part of our history in common with South America.

From a political and sociological point of view, there are people's revolutions, such as the American Revolution of 1776. Canada never really had a revolution, but the Patriotes did kill people and spark revolutionary movements that led to ministerial responsibility in Canada. That was a kind of people's revolution.

In South America, Simón Bolívar strove to build a continent-wide federation called Gran Colombia. He even became a dictator. Some commentators portray him as a liberal who became a dictator. Anyway, there were people's revolutions in both North America and South America. That is something else we have in common with the people of Latin America.

Furthermore, economically speaking, we share a willingness with these people to trade between countries and reduce borders when it comes to tariffs and even the sharing of cultures and political systems. In North America, we have NAFTA, which was created in 1988 and ratified in 1992. South America has an equivalent, Mercosur, which was created in 1991 and ratified in 1995.

These two agreements share a similar economic annexation model, but the Latin American countries go a step further because they try to share best policy practices and standardize their social policies, which is no easy feat considering that some South American countries are not quite what we could call democratic.

I would also like to talk about Canada's relationship with South America. Canada was late in discovering South America for one very simple reason. In 1823, Republican American President Monroe implemented the Monroe doctrine, which was very important over the next two centuries. In one of the speeches he gave to Congress, President Monroe told Europeans that all of the Americas were under American imperial control. In other words, Mr. Monroe told the European powers that any European designs on the Americas would be regarded as nothing less than a hostile attack on the United States.

From that point on, the United States started treating South America like their back yard. We saw that in the way they behaved toward Chile, in the days of Pinochet, and in Honduras, when Mr. Reagan brought down that country's government. The Americans treated South America like their back yard.

Here, as great economic and political allies of the United States, we kept our distance from South America because the Americans would not have been happy to see Canada try to foster agreements or diplomatic relations with South American countries since that was their back yard.

All that changed in 1984 with the creation of the Organization of American States, which Canada did not join until 1990. It took all that time for Canada to open up to South American countries because of the Monroe doctrine. It was only in 1990 that Canada, after 30 years of observer status, became a full fledged member state.

Today, after more than 28 years as a member of the OAS, Canada does interesting work exporting its democratic values to South American countries and creating bilateral free trade agreements, including with Peru. That was one of Mr. Harper's many fine accomplishments. There are also the summits of the Americas, including the one that was held in Quebec City in 2001.

That is what I wanted to present this evening. In North America and in South America, we have our particularities and we share some very real similarities on economic, geopolitical, sociological, anthropological and historical levels. In Canada, we are pleased that a growing number of Hispanics are heading to our border to immigrate to our country in order to participate in our beautiful cultural, political, and economic life.

Canada was closed to South America for a very long time because of the Monroe doctrine and U.S. policy, which jealously treated South America as its backyard.

Hurray for Senator Enverga's initiative. Hurray for the initiative of my colleague from Thornhill, who sponsored the bill. Hurray for the Columbian community in Quebec City, which is going to party this summer in Baie de Beauport in my riding.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:05 p.m.
See context


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed listening to the various interventions on this private member's bill, one which recognizes Canada's relationship with Latin America and the ties we have to many of the countries in that region of the world, establishing the recognition, at law, that the relationship between Canadians and their Latin American partners is a very good one and that can lead to prosperity and to wonderful relationships.

I heard discussion about sports here today, and the culture of Latin America, but I would like to focus today on a thing that has been my passion for a number of years now, and that is international trade. As Canada's former international trade minister, I had the honour and privilege of being able to lead Canada's trade agenda all around the world. We brought in the global markets action plan, which opens up new markets for Canadians who are looking to export their goods all around the world. We also saw in trade an opportunity not only to drive Canadian prosperity, but to help other countries around the world improve their own prosperity. There are some who believe that trade is a zero-sum game: if they win, we lose; if we win, they lose. We have leaders in the world today, very well-known leaders, who believe that trade is a zero-sum game and are prepared to lose opportunities to build trading relationships that are going to drive their own economic growth.

We as a Conservative Party strongly believe that trade is not a zero-sum game, that in fact a rising tide lifts all ships. To put it another way, when we increase the size of the pie, everybody benefits, everybody can participate, and everybody can become more prosperous. That is what generated our enthusiasm for engaging in trade with Latin America. It was our Conservative government under Stephen Harper that led the charge to really seize the opportunity to engage with countries within Latin America. We engaged with countries like Panama and Honduras. We engaged with countries like Peru and Colombia. We also made attempts to engage with some of the larger economies in South America like Argentina and Brazil, and I will get to those in a moment. What drove us was not only a motive to drive economic growth in Canada through trade, but it was to be a vehicle that could be used to help other countries that were emerging from very troubled histories, very troubled pasts.

I will give an example of where Canada has engaged. By the way, this is also a compliment to our Liberals here because they are the ones who started the trade negotiations with Chile. I give credit where credit is due. What happened was that Chile under Augusto Pinochet lived in fear, under the oppression of a tyrant and a dictator who oppressed his people. There was no democracy. There was no security in that country. There was no rule of law. It was chaotic. It was immensely unsafe. Those who remember those days remember the news reports coming out of Chile: extra-judicial killings; and people, fathers and mothers, disappearing, never to be seen again. Eventually, Augusto Pinochet was deposed. He was brought to justice. The country was in shambles. The economy was in shambles. Canada decided to engage with Chile. There are those who suggest that with countries that come from very problematic pasts like Colombia, Peru, and Honduras, the best way of treating them is as pariahs and not to engage with them at all; isolate them.

Canada's approach has been quite different. We have said, provided a country has a genuine desire to emerge from its difficult past and to make the structural reforms required, we are prepared to engage with it on trade. When we engage on trade, we get to engage on building democratic institutions, building the rule of law, delivering better security in those countries. It is all part of a package. It is not just about trade.

We engage with Chile and Canada was one of the first countries to sign a trade agreement with Chile. Today, Chile is the most prosperous, most democratic country in South America. It is a shining example of where engagement made a huge difference. Even to this day, Canada has close relationships with Chile. We still have a trade agreement with it.

There are other countries in the region. Peru was one. It was trying to loosen itself from the grip of the Shining Path guerrillas, who were wreaking chaos throughout the country. Eventually it was able to emerge from that and its leader at the time chose to engage with Canada and asked if it would be possible for Canada to consider a trade agreement with Peru. We said we knew they had a troubled past and there were lots of things to fix in their country, but they had expressed a genuine desire to create a much better country, a much better economy, and a much better future for the people. We engaged with Peru. We negotiated a trade agreement. Today, Peru is a completely different country. It still has its challenges and anyone who travels there will understand that, but it is a vastly different and superior country to what it once was.

The same thing is true with Colombia where we engaged with President Santos, who was trying to make peace with the FARC guerillas and the ELN, the national patriotic army. We said we would engage with it on a trade agreement and we negotiated. At the end of the day we were able to secure an agreement that is today helping to drive prosperity with that country because there are other countries that Colombia has now engaged with as well and has trade agreements with. It is strengthening its democratic institutions. It has a semblance of rule of law in Colombia. Is it perfect? No, but it is getting much better. Canada played a part in doing that, in providing security, developing capacity within that country.

Canada is known around the world as being a kinder, gentler nation. Countries that are coming out of a troubled past find it much easier to engage with Canada than with other countries because we have a different approach. For example, some trade agreements have to be negotiated on asymmetrical bases, in other words, the outcomes are not the same on both sides. We recognize that one partner is weaker and instead of saying it is our way or the highway, we want full access to a market overnight, Canada has an approach that says over time they are going to develop a much more prosperous country, but for now we want to engage and we are going to set up a set of rules that favour the other country for the time being. Over time, they can catch up and we will have a full-blown bilateral agreement that is truly balanced.

That is the kind of approach that Canadians brought to trade, that we have brought to Latin America. We have made a huge difference as we have engaged with those countries. There are other countries that we still have to engage with, countries like Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay. They are all part of something called Mercosur. Actually Venezuela is not part of it, given its recent challenges, but the other countries are part of a larger trading bloc that Canada has tried to engage with. The problem is that many of those countries still believe that trade is a zero-sum game, so that if one wins, the other loses. They are very protectionist. They really do not want to open up their economies, but they want to open up our economy. It has to be a two-way street, we understand that.

I hope I have been able to paint a bit of a picture of Latin America. It is not just about sports, it is not just about culture, it is about economic opportunity, it is about trade, and making the lives of millions of people better, and ensuring prosperity for them.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:15 p.m.
See context


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was excited to hear my colleague's speech about trade, because we believe in the impacts of trade, and the great benefits of it. His examples were phenomenal when he talked about how we can watch countries rise and gain an advantage in every area when they embrace things like free trade, and set aside protectionism and trade barriers for their country. Therefore, we are excited to be here tonight and to hear some of the examples where that has worked around the world.

There are two aspects that I want to talk about tonight. One has to do with the bill on Latin America. The other one has to do with the Filipino community in our country and the role that it plays, because Senator Enverga was such an important part of that. I want to talk a bit about him and his phenomenal impact on that community and his adopted country.

My riding is in southwestern Saskatchewan. We had not had a lot of Filipino people in our riding until about 10 years ago when the temporary foreign worker program was put into place, the Saskatchewan immigrant nominee program was put into place, and people began to come into southwestern Saskatchewan and fill roles in manufacturing, in some of the service industries, and so forth. They have become a major community in southwestern Saskatchewan. It is a community that makes a huge contribution to our community as well. It is interesting that they have gone from just a few hundred people to between 2,000 and 3,000 people in that community in southwestern Saskatchewan. They support each other. Swift Current is the centre of our community in that part of the area, and they are great contributors to the local economy and the local communities. They are great partners. They just fit right in. They have such a strong family focus that it is a reminder to the rest of us to continue to focus on supporting our families and the relationships there. They have provided great leadership in our community in Saskatchewan. However, Senator Enverga certainly provided that leadership here in Ontario, and I would like to talk a bit about the role that he played.

I did not know him all that well. However, sometimes we have the opportunity to meet people and as soon as we see them and spend a bit of time with them we understand that they are people who have a lot of influence because they are willing to commit themselves to other people. He was one of those people. It was obvious he was a man who loved his country. He loved Canada. He was a tireless worker. He was passionate about the projects he was involved in. He was full of energy all the time. I think probably few of us are that enthusiastic about our country. It certainly is a reminder to us that we can play that kind of role of really bringing people up with us.

As was mentioned earlier this evening, he was the first Filipino on the Toronto Catholic District School Board. I saw some tributes to him after his passing from people who said that he played such an influential role in their lives even to this day because of the things he initiated and the relationships he had with them.

Of course, he was more famous in his role as a senator. He was appointed in 2012. He came in and played an important role. What is interesting is that he was not in the Senate a long time, but when he passed away the Speaker of the Senate had this to say about him:

In every aspect of his parliamentary work, Senator Enverga was not shy about sharing his deep love for Canada. It has been a privilege to serve with him and I know he will be dearly missed by everyone in the Senate family.

Sometimes we say those kinds of words if someone has passed away. However, from what I can see, every person who knew him felt that way about him, and had a deep appreciation for who he was and what he had done. Therefore, we need to recognize his service in the other place.

He was somebody who loved others as well. He was very committed to his community. He worked for 30 years I think for the Bank of Montreal. He was a strong family man. He was a fierce advocate for people with disabilities. That may be tied to the fact that one of his daughters has Down's syndrome. When we meet parents who have a child with a disability, often there is a deep compassion not only for their children but for other children in similar situations and for their parents. Senator Enverga was one of those people who had that depth of character from serving his family.

Senator Enverga was a person who was loved in his community. He launched the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation, which had a lot to do with trying to help both the new families coming to Canada and those in the Philippines in situations where there were disasters and those kinds of things.

He talked at one point about having the opportunity to be in the Senate. He said:

The Senate has come to bolster representation of groups often under-represented in Parliament, such as Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and women. We, as visible minorities and Asian senators, have a responsibility and the ability to share and contribute our unique values, skills, and culture to complement and enhance various Senate roles and duties for the country as a whole.

This is a person who not only loved his country but loved the people around him, and he was willing to work for them as well.

There was an interesting anecdote. He was a person who went to church regularly, and often people wondered if they could talk to him about some of the roles he could play here and some ways he might help them. He was always available after church on Sunday if people wanted to talk to him. Some of us tend to run away and hide when we are in public so that we do not have to work 24 hours a day. Senator Enverga was someone who was happy to greet people and bring them into his life.

He was also a person who loved God, and he was not shy about that. One of the things I appreciated most was the comments from his wife after his passing about his character. They had been married for 34 years, and she described her husband as a person with a heart for those who needed help. Her words were that his drive and focus had always been rooted in his “fervent Catholic faith.” He was always a man of faith, and who he was was rooted in that. He believed in putting his community ahead of himself, so it is not a surprise that he had the kind of influence he did in our country. His wife also said, “My husband would want to tell everyone, please stand up for your faith.... No matter what you do, no matter what position you have, stand up for your faith.”

He was a person who was not ashamed of that. He was willing to take that with him into his life here. He certainly had a significant impact on a lot of people around here, and we are aware of that. I have done a lot of work on international religious freedom, and he reminded me of other people I have met who are willing to pay a tremendous price because of the things they believe in and the things they hold dear.

Time goes too quickly with these speeches, but it does in other places as well, and Senator Enverga clearly left us far too early. He still had things to do. He had a couple of bills before the House, such as Bill S-242, which would protect consumers. He was working on the bill before us, Bill S-218, and he was trying to bring the singing of the national anthem once a week into the Senate as well.

I will close by reading a tribute from his friend, Romy Rafael, who is the president of the foundation he started:

His passion and drive to help those in need, especially in their time of need shown in his involvement in numerous charitable causes and this is how the PCCF came to be. Before being appointed to the senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he created the PCCF in October 2010, in order to help the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. He was a selfless man who loved his country and genuinely wanted to help the people in it. He was determined to help. He once said in his speech: “We are not afraid to fail”. We may fall, stumble and cry, but we will stand up stronger and fulfill our mission to charity. By his example, he inspired people, like myself, to be an advocate for positive change and to help those in need.

He finished by saying:

There is a saying that goes: “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Even though you are no longer with us, your spirit will live on through those whose lives you touched. Your legacy will continue and you will forever be in our hearts. May you Rest in Peace Senator. We will miss you.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:25 p.m.
See context


Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to support Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month.

My colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands spoke so eloquently about Senator Enverga. I, too, will speak to some of great things that he meant to this place and to his community.

Many of our colleagues have mentioned that this bill is one of the many lasting legacies of our friend and colleague, the late Senator Tobias Enverga. Bill S-218 also owes its continued success in this chamber to the tireless efforts of our colleague from Thornhill.

Senator Enverga was a tireless champion of the many cultural and ethnic groups that now call Canada home. As an immigrant himself, he knew the challenges of starting a new life in a foreign country. As a senator, he was always quick to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and enormous contributions of new Canadians as they settled into their new lives here in Canada.

Senator Enverga first brought this bill forward in the Senate. He had a similar bill before the House in the last Parliament, which was dropped because of the election in 2015. For the current iteration, the senator wanted to reshape it and expand it to include a few more important things. The original bill was called Hispanic heritage month. For Bill S-218, he consciously changed the name and the characterization to Latin American heritage month.

In previous speeches and debates on this bill, the late senator referenced other heritage months that moved him to propose one for Canadians of Latin American descent.

When Senator Enverga first spoke to Bill S-218, he reminded colleagues that he came to Canada as an immigrant, one of many in the upper chamber fortunate to have been welcomed in Canada. He referred to the spectrum of celebrations held across Canada by communities of various national, ethnic, and linguistic origins. He highlighted the two decades-plus annual celebration of Black History Month, recognized by the House in 1995 and by the Senate 13 years later. He explained that the designation of Black History Month has done much to educate and to familiarize Canadians with the stories and the history of an important demographic too often absent in our school curricula. He mentioned as well Asian Heritage Month, passed and proclaimed in 2002 and marked annually ever since, when non-Asian Canadians learn of and experience the sounds, entertainment, and tastes of Asia, and the contribution that Asian Canadians have brought to Canadian society.

Senator Enverga argued that those were just two wonderful examples of designated heritage months, to which he believed a Latin American heritage month should be added. He wanted to highlight the unique Latin American culture and the ever-changing landscapes, not only in Central and South America but also in the Caribbean, given the centuries of evolutions and revolutions and the many nuanced geopolitical sensitivities from the region's colourful history.

This legislation would essentially recognize the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, cultural, and political fabric made by Canada's dynamic Latin American community.

For the purpose of this bill, Senator Enverga anticipated the widest possible interpretation so that Bill S-218 could cover those whose identity is Spanish and Portuguese from South America and Central America, as well as those whose heritage is from the francophone and Hispanic Caribbean islands. Using that broad and very inclusive measure, we can see that Canadians of Latin American origin can be found far and wide across our great country from coast to coast to coast. In the absence of absolute census numbers covering that broad and somewhat imprecise measure, we might estimate a probable demographic well above half a million men, women, and children here in Canada.

What we know for certain is that the Latin American community is one of the fastest-growing cultural groups in Canada today. Statistics Canada reports that between 1996 and 2001 the number of individuals reporting Latin American origins rose by 32%, at a time when the overall Canadian population grew by only 4%.

These numbers are particularly interesting given that there was only a very small Latin American population in Canada before the 1960s. It was in the 1960s and 1970s that Canada recorded the first significant migration of Latin Americans. Sadly, their motivation in too many cases was to escape social and economic turmoil, dictatorships, and conflict.

Most recently, another wave is fleeing Venezuela's corrupt and repressive socialist regimes under first Hugo Chavez and now the brutal Nicolas Maduro. These Latin Americans represent a significant loss to the countries they have left, but they have been a welcome addition in Canada. Their education, their skills, and their adaptability have been a great benefit to Canada's labour market, to our economy, and to our culture.

Most Canadians of Latin American origin live in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, or Alberta, with almost half making their home in Ontario. Canada's Latin American population is also young. Statistics Canada tells us that almost 50% of those with Latin America origins living in Canada are under the age of 25. Seniors make up less than 5% of those reporting Latin American origins, compared with 12% of all other Canadians.

Virtually all Canadians of Latin American origin are functional in one of Canada's two official languages. They are slightly more likely than the rest of our population to have university degrees. Statistics Canada also tells us that working-age adults of Latin American origins are somewhat more likely to be employed than the rest of Canada's adult population, fully 64% of adults of Latin American origin.

Latin America as a region is considered the fourth-largest source of immigration to Canada. However, in stark contrast to the United States, the demographic is not measured or appreciated nearly as much as its counterparts in the U.S.A. Senator Enverga's bill, Bill S-218, stands not only to deepen our appreciation and celebration of our Latin American community, but to precisely measure the actual numbers and its regional contributions to our economy.

[Member spoke in Spanish]


The Latino community in Alberta hosts an annual fiesta called “Fiestaval”. Fiestaval is a family-oriented, multicultural arts and entertainment festival, highlighting Latin American music, food, and culture. Two years ago, I attended the Fiestaval event when it was held in Red Deer. This year's Fiestaval will be held in Calgary from July 20 to 22, and it will take place in the heart of downtown Calgary at the Olympic Plaza.

The Latin culture is also close to me and my family. A four-hour flight from Calgary does take me to Ottawa, but a similar four-hour flight takes me to Mazatlan. It is the same time zone so it is much better that way. We have had opportunities over the years to bring our family to Mexico, so much so that my daughter Megan not only picked up a love of the culture but also the language. While at the University of Alberta, she volunteered at the Edmonton women's shelter for immigrant women and later spent five years teaching Spanish in Sylvan Lake.

When I came to Ottawa in 2008, I was honoured to be part of ParlAmericas. Through that organization, as well as Asia Pacific and participation in OAS meetings and various bilateral discussions, I was able to use my love of the Latin American culture to serve not just my community but our country as well. Panama, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Colombia are but a few of the countries where Canadians have had a great influence, and this relationship with our nation is reflected here at home.

I recall specifically being in Colombia for bilateral talks at the same time that the discussions were taking place in Havana between Colombia and FARC and ELN. We had discussions with civil society representatives as they went back and forth to Havana. They said their children had been taken to terrorist camps, some had been killed, some had been raped, and all types of things had happened to them, but somewhere along the line they had to stop the 60 years of terrible things happening in their communities. They were able to deal with that. That is always going to stay with me.

I hope my colleagues will support this well-thought-out bill. Together, we can ensure that Senator Enverga's legacy and advocacy lives on every time we celebrate Latin American heritage month.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:35 p.m.
See context


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. I am pleased to be part of the one party in the House that is actually interested in talking about our relationship with Latin America.

It seems only the Conservatives want to make the case for this bill, and for this important relationship. That is an interesting thing. I am sure that the community and Latin America really appreciates our party's contribution and engagement with this issue. Certainly this is something that we are going to continue to talk about. Conservatives believe in and value Canada's relationship with all of our partners around the world, and with the community in Latin America. I think that the case needs to be made on this bill and that is what those of us in the official opposition precisely are going to continue to do.

I have a lot that I want to say on this bill. I am sorry that I only have 10 minutes but I will do my best to get through all of my points. I know my colleagues across the way are disappointed as well that I only have 10 minutes to make the case.

Of course this is the late Senator Enverga's bill and I think it is important to start out by saluting his good work in the Senate, and outside of the Senate as well. Unlike some of our longer tenured members, I did not have the same opportunity to get to know him so well, but in the short time in which our careers overlapped here on Parliament Hill, I saw his commitment to this place, his commitment to advocating for his community and country, and using the role he had as a senator to really move this country forward. This bill is one example of that larger contribution he made.

There are a few things that I wanted to comment on in this bill. Speaking of Latin American history and heritage, I wanted to share a bit about my own familial connection to Latin America. It is an important connection. Although no member of my family has Latin American origins, my grandparents met in Latin America. I am glad they did because I would not be here otherwise.

The story is a simple one. My grandfather was born here in Canada. He was born in Toronto. My grandmother was born in Europe. She was part Jewish. She was a Holocaust survivor. The family was able to get one visa so my great-grandfather left Germany. He went to South America, as I recall, without any sort of particular design. This was just where they were able to get a visa. He ended up in Ecuador. My grandmother survived the war inside Germany and then she and her mother left for South America to meet up with my great-grandfather. They met up in South America. My grandmother worked at a bookstore. My grandmother was a refugee and my grandfather who was a Canadian was the explorer. He kind of went out adventuring and travelled all over the world. I know he spent some time in the Philippines as well as a young man. That is another connection to Senator Enverga. He spent two years in the Philippines. He ended up as well in South America.

Therefore, it was in Ecuador that my grandparents met at a house party. Three weeks later they were engaged and ended up back here in Canada. From my perspective, it is a great Canadian story of explorer meets refugee and they end up in Canada. However, South America was that crossover point where people from different parts of the world who were seeking opportunity came and were able to meet.

My mother was also born in South America. After returning to Canada, my grandparents went back and they spent some time in Venezuela. Of course, we are very familiar with the challenges in Venezuela, the abuse of human rights, the abuse of democracy, that we see from the Maduro regime there. It is interesting that it was not that long ago when Venezuela, rich in resources, was a place where a Canadian would go to seek work and opportunity.

That is a little bit of my own personal connection to South America as part of the region that is spoken about in this bill. We can see through that, and in general, the rich resources, rich culture, and rich opportunities that exist in that region. Certainly, there are many opportunities as a result of that, in terms of cultural enrichment and Canada's relationship with the region. I know, for example, that my colleague from B.C., a former trade minister in the Harper government, spoke about the trade deals that Canada signed and other trade deals that Canada was in the process of seeking during the period of the Harper government. We had an aggressive, vigorous trade agenda that was very successful and committed to deepening those ties throughout the world, but in particular we were successful at developing deeper ties in the Americas.

From time to time other parties did not agree with us on that trade agenda. They would say, for example, that we should not be trading with countries that do not have a perfect human rights record, yet we saw opportunities through trade, through engagement, but also through associated labour and environmental agreements, to create the opportunities and the catalyst for the kinds of improvements that were under way in those countries, indeed that people were seeking in those countries.

We saw trade as a part of a constructive tool kit for our engagement with these countries. Under the previous government, we had a minister of state who was responsible for the Americas. This reflected the particular emphasis we put on the economic, cultural, and strategic relationship we had with Latin America.

Part of the importance of that relationship, as well, was the role that Canada could play in championing our values, what we sometimes describe as Canadian values but also really are universal human values: the ideas of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. In all of our relationships around the world, we seek to advance those values. In particular, in the previous government, in our engagement with Latin America, we saw opportunities and did work to advance those values.

Today we see certain countries where there are increasing challenges. I do not think enough has been said, for example, in Canada or in this House, about the situation in Nicaragua. We see many people being killed in protests that are taking place, people who are challenging the repression that is happening. Protestors are being killed. It is important for us to raise these issues, to ask questions, and to challenge the Government of Nicaragua to respect the fundamental rights of people in that country.

I am hopeful that this will be part of the engagement that our government takes around the world. They say that the advancement of human rights and protection of democracy is a key priority. We are skeptical in certain instances of the way that works itself out in practice. We have continued to challenge the government on those issues.

Nonetheless, another case I should mention is Venezuela. We have seen, in response to a lot of pressure that has come from civil society as well as the opposition, a downgrading in the diplomatic relationship with Venezuela, which was a way of sending a message. It is important, as well, that we use the tool kits that are available, such as Magnitsky sanctions against some of these regimes.

It is also striking to me, when I think about the challenges that exist in Latin America, in some of these countries, and ask the question, what does it take to engage our attention in some of these human rights issues? We speak about Latin American issues that are relatively very close to us. Many Canadians have connections and will go on vacation, perhaps, to countries in Central and South America, yet when there are challenges, whether it is natural disasters or human rights issues that emerge, I do not know if those engage the headlines here in the way that maybe we would like them to.

This is a challenge that we have to reflect on, how, in a spirit of universal human solidarity, we can try to make sure we are engaged, yes, of course, with the things that are in our immediate environment, but also to engage with questions of human well-being and suffering as they happen elsewhere.

In this context, I was going to read a quote from The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith, but I do not think I have time in the one minute I have left. Anyway, the point he makes in a fairly famous fable is that if we imagined some terrible tragedy happening on the other side of the world, we might reflect on it, we might consider it, we might engage it philosophically, and then we might, after that, kind of go on about our business.

However, if we were to imagine, in the case of the fable, losing one's own little finger tomorrow, or imagine some relatively very minor tragedy happening to ourselves, it would engage us at a visceral and a subconscious level. It is our reason and our sense of higher value that pushes us beyond this to feel a really strong sense of solidarity and fellowship with those around us.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:45 p.m.
See context


Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, AB

Madam Speaker, I find it interesting that no Liberal wanted to get up to speak to this, but they have no hesitation in heckling us as we are speaking to this important bill.

We have been discussing the bill for several hours tonight, and those who are watching, and I am sure many people are riveted to the debate tonight, may have forgotten what we are talking about. I will read the bill as a way of reintroducing it to folks who may have tuned in late and who may not know what we are talking about.

It is Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, which was moved by Senator Enverga, who was a valued member of our Conservative team. He was a senator from 2012 until he passed away in 2017.

Senator Enverga was the first Filipino Canadian elected in the city of Toronto. He was a Catholic School Board trustee in Toronto, and he was known in the region for launching the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was also co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group.

He inaugurated the annual Filipino independence day flag-raising on Parliament Hill, and he was a “tireless champion for multiculturalism” and was “an advocate for people with disabilities”, as pointed out in The Globe and Mail article, as his daughter Rocel has Down's syndrome, which is obviously something close to my heart as well, as people in the House know.

One of the things that strikes me about this legislation is the fact that even though Senator Enverga was a tireless champion for folks in the Filipino community, he decided to move a bill to propose a Latin American heritage month. That just speaks to who he was.

One of the things that I will remember about Senator Enverga is that whenever he walked into a room, the room got brighter because he was there. He was a shining light.

He was very passionate about Canada and about the work our Conservative government was doing. He was also very passionate about the opportunity he had as someone born in the Philippines who immigrated to Canada and who took his place as a senator in this country. We miss him in our caucus, and the Hill is diminished by not having him around.

I often think about my own community in Edmonton—Wetaskiwin. A lot of people looking at this riding on a map make the mistaken assumption that there is no diversity there. However, Wetaskiwin, which is a community of 17,000 people, actually has a significant Filipino population. When I am in Wetaskiwin, I think of folks like Senator Enverga, and I see this unbelievable passion within the Filipino community there.

Those members of Parliament who have a sizable Filipino community in their riding will recognize what it is like to get to a Filipino household when they are door-knocking. It is almost like there is a celebration because a member of Parliament is there. When members show up for events, the Filipino people have an incredible joy. Senator Enverga was the personification of that within our team and within the confines of Parliament Hill.

His bill, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, is pretty simple. It reads:

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:

1 This Act may be cited as the Latin American Heritage Month Act.

2 Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the month of October is to be known as “Latin American Heritage Month”.

It is very simple, and I hope members from all parties will support this bill.

I am really glad we have had the opportunity to discuss this tonight. Having listened to the debate tonight, it is probably one of the most productive evenings we have had in the House of Commons in the last several weeks. It is a nice break, because if we look at the things we have been discussing in the absence of legislation like this—

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:50 p.m.
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Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, AB

Yes, a lot of closure and time allocation debates, and then the time spent during the votes on those things. I think we had five in a three-day span last week. We have been discussing the $18-billion deficit that the government is running, despite the fact that it promised a balance budget by next year. We are talking about some pretty devastating stuff.

The government has increased spending by $58 billion annually and cannot find a way to balance the budget. It had increased spending by over 21% in four years and our kids and grandkids are the ones who will pay the price for that down the road, just like in the days of the former Trudeau government of the 1970s. There were massive increases in spending and it was the generation in the mid-1990s that had to pay for a $35-billion cut in health care, social services, and education transfers to the provinces, which was when the bill came due. We are going in the same direction now.

It is very encouraging to have the opportunity to talk about something other than the nationalization of pipelines, for example. At one point, there were four pipelines in the pipeline, so to speak, when the Liberal government was elected in 2015. Northern gateway was approved and energy east was well on its way. Trans Mountain was moving forward as well, and there was a lot of talk about Keystone XL.

The Liberals managed to cancel northern gateway and completely changed the rules that made it impossible for energy east to move forward. The energy minister likes to say that the company made an economic business decision to cancel energy east, after it had spent $1 billion navigating a regulatory system, and the government changed the rules on it. Naturally, it made an economic decision not to go forward and not to waste another $1 billion.

It is very encouraging to have the opportunity to talk about something tonight other than the Liberals' failed policy on pipelines, which has it now buying a pipeline for $4.5 billion because it cannot find a private sector company to move forward with it, when there used to be four projects on the go. It is very nice to have the opportunity to talk about something other than those things tonight.

We could have been talking about the carbon tax. There has been a lot of discussion about the carbon tax.

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to have the finance minister go before the finance committee of the House of Commons and tell Canadians what the carbon tax will cost Canadian families.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:55 p.m.
See context


Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, AB

Madam Speaker, there is a lot of activity on the other side of the House right now. I imagine people are flooding in to have the opportunity to finally speak to this legislation.

With that, I will cede the floor, with the hope that, finally, a Liberal member will stand to speak to this important legislation.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:55 p.m.
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John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House at this relatively late hour to debate Bill S-218.

Before I do, I want to make note of the hard-working people who allow this place to operate: the table officers, the pages, our Hansard reporters, Parliamentary Protective Service, food services, the bus drivers, and everyone who keeps this place going. They do an exceptional job, especially at this late hour. I would just point out that the Hansard officer today is a young man by the name of Sam, who is actually in the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs, which is the same college I attended at Carleton University. He is an exceptional, hard-working young man.

I would note that I am the 35th person to debate the bill tonight. I would note as well that those who have debated so far have been Conservatives, New Democrats, and even the Green Party. Unfortunately, those who serve as members of the government have not spoken to the bill.

Bill S-218 was introduced in the other place by our dear friend, our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga. Certainly, on a night like this when we are debating his bill, we all wish he was here with us, that he could be sitting in the Senate gallery observing this important debate. However, we lost him all too soon at the age of 61. In fact, he was attending a meeting of the Canadian section of the ParlAmericas, travelling with the Canadian section to Colombia when he passed away so suddenly. Tonight our thoughts are with his family, his dear wife Rosemer and their three daughters. As we have heard, his daughters were truly his inspiration for a variety of different things, including his support of Canadians living with disabilities. One of his daughters lives with Down's syndrome and was always a support to him.

As members will know, before being elected, Senator Enverga was a trustee in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. In fact, when he was elected to that position, he became the first Filipino Canadian elected within the city of Toronto. When he was appointed to the other place in 2012, it was the first time a Filipino Canadian had been appointed to the other place. In the 145 years, to that point, of Confederation, Senator Enverga became the first Filipino Canadian to be appointed to the Senate.

When I rise to debate the bill, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, I think of the many Canadians of Latin American descent who came to Canada to build a better life for themselves and for their families. I think of a good friend of mine, Sebastian Ortega. His parents, Julio and Carmen Ortega came from Peru to Canada in 1993. They are now proud to be living in Canada and their family is contributing to our great society.

When the bill was introduced in the other place, Senator Enverga rose on March 8, 2016, to state:

I came to Canada as an immigrant, and I am one of many in this chamber who have been fortunate to be welcomed here to contribute to our society. 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 our country is. 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.

I would echo those comments from the late senator. By passing Bill S-218 we are able to celebrate that great diversity. We are able to celebrate that history of multiculturalism that we see in this place, that we see across the country, and that we see in each of our ridings.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016 there were 674,640 Canadians living in Canada who are of Latin American descent. Indeed, in my own riding of Perth—Wellington, a strong rural community, there are 1,570 Canadians who are of Latin American descent. It is important that we recognize and celebrate this contribution to our great society.

There is precedent for a bill of this nature. The House and the other place have, in the 42nd Parliament, designated a variety of months or days for symbolic cultural purposes. The month of May was designated as Canadian Jewish Heritage Month. Motion No. 124 designated the month of January as Tamil Heritage Month. Motion No. 64 dedicated the month of June as Italian Heritage Month. Motion No. 73 dedicated the month of October as German Heritage Month. Coming from a riding with a strong German presence, we certainly appreciate that recognition. Motion No. 126 dedicated the month of June as Portuguese Heritage Month. On the Order Paper, as we speak, Bill C-317 would designate the month of October as Hispanic heritage month, and Bill C-376 would designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month.

I have minor concerns about some of these bills, and they are mathematical in nature. We only have 12 months in the year, and there is some duplication and overlap in months. That is a concern for some. For example, the bill we are debating here tonight would designate October as the said month for Latin American heritage month, which would fall in the same month as Oktoberfest and German Heritage Month. There is an overlap. It is not an insurmountable overlap or a significant concern that would delay the passage of the bill, but it is something we need to recognize, and ensure that we are cognizant of these points when we are debating this issue.

For example, we have already passed in this place the designation of the month of June both as Italian Heritage Month and as Portuguese Heritage Month. We can enjoy and celebrate both those important contributions by recognizing these days.

I would note that earlier tonight, the member for Huron—Bruce provided an exceptional overview of some of the contributions Latin American players have made to the great sport of baseball. In my riding of Perth—Wellington, we are home to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and the induction ceremony is this weekend. Madam Speaker, if you are free, we would welcome you at the induction ceremony, where they will be honouring Pedro Martinez, who was born in the Dominican Republic and will be inducted for his time with the Montreal Expos. I am looking forward to that celebration this Saturday, and I invite all members to join us on Saturday when we make that induction official.

I would like to conclude by saying how important I think it is to recognize the month of October as Latin American heritage month, and I would like to conclude with the words of Senator Enverga. He said, in the other place:

Declaring the month of October as Latin American heritage month will be a wonderful opportunity for us to contribute to our collective story, a uniquely Canadian story increasingly filled with symbols of multiculturalism, a shared history that has led us to the society we now live in where our rights and freedoms are protected under the principles of peace, order and good government.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 11:10 p.m.
See context


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, we are very eager to hear a government member speak about Latin American heritage month. I am the 36th member to speak, and so far no one on the other side of the House has deigned to make a speech on the important bill introduced by a colleague of ours from the other place, Senator Tobias Enverga, who left us far too soon in November.

He sponsored this public bill, and he would surely have been proud to be here today to talk about it with us. I would like to remind the members that he first proposed this bill back in 2015, during the last Parliament. Sadly, there was not enough time to study it before the election was called. I think we can understand and appreciate that this bill was important to Senator Enverga. I am sure we will be able to pass this bill and add to his legacy here in Parliament.

To understand the motivation that led the senator to table Bill S-218, I would like to remind the House of two points from its preamble:

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;

With that in mind, I believe that, as Canadians, we can all be proud of our history and common heritage. What unites us is the heritage of each culture, the blending of languages, customs, practices, and places, or in other words, the elements that help to identify us as Canadians today.

Just as our history allowed for the meaningful blending of cultures and languages among the French, the British, and the first nations, in most cases, the history of South American countries allowed South Americans to intentionally choose to join us in Canada. However, they often did so out of necessity.

For example, in 1973, following the coups in Chile and Uruguay, Canada implemented a program to welcome Latin American refugees fleeing the wars and dictatorships. This wave of refugees mainly included people from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Central America, more specifically, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

In 1991 and 2011, a large number of people from Colombia, Guatemala, and El Salvador immigrated to Canada as refugees for humanitarian reasons because of the high level of civil insecurity in their countries. Most Latin Americans from other countries who settled in Quebec during that period came for a variety of reasons, namely cyclical economic crises, the transfer of labour from south to north, and family reunification.

I will talk about some of the opportunities Canada has given these individuals, who came here fleeing difficult situations in their own countries. I will talk about the Conservative candidate in the riding of Compton—Stanstead in the 2015 election, Gustavo Labrador, who is a close friend of mine.

In 1995, he landed in Montreal with his wife and her son, who was five years old at the time. Desperate for peace and prosperity, Gustavo quickly realized that he did not like Quebec's big cities, which is why he decided to settle in Sherbrooke. He adopted two little Chinese girls, and his son-in-law has had the pleasure of making a grandfather out of him.

He learned French at the Centre Saint-Michel and studied at the Collégial du Séminaire de Sherbrooke. He found work at the Sûreté du Québec central dispatch answering 911 calls.

Why did he decide to seek political office? Here is his answer, quoted from a blog by Studio Jean Malo in Sherbrooke:

The Conservative Party's values have resonated with me for a very long time now. I am a great believer in individual responsibility, in a government that does not interfere in people's personal lives and that keeps its purse strings tight. I also believe in a government that supports families. Our children are the future of this nation. I come from a country, Venezuela, where there is a lot of insecurity. We have security here.... We need to make sure that those whom we welcome here will not jeopardize the safely and security of Canadians.

In short, Gustavo came here and decided to actively participate in our society. He is very active in his community and took part in the electoral process. He is not here today, but that is not the point of our discussion or my presentation. This individual fled his own country and the difficult situation there, and had a chance to achieve his dreams and raise his family here.

On behalf of all my colleagues in the House of Commons, I want to applaud Gustavo and all the other Latin Americans who decided to go into politics, represent their fellow citizens, and serve their country.

In Canada, almost 450,000 people are from Latin American countries such as Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Cuba. They live right across the country, mainly in large cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa. World statistics are even more astounding. There are 447 million Hispanic people. They are so omnipresent, that we have even integrated their language into ours. I could invite everyone to a fiesta on my patio where we would all eat tacos and guacamole. That is now part of our own culture. These people brought with them their culture and we are very pleased to share it.

My riding of Mégantic—L'Érable has a small Latin American population. According to the most recent census, there were 175 people whose mother tongue was Spanish. It is very difficult to distinguish between people of Latin American origin and Hispanics who come from other countries because we do not have access to that data. However, today we can say that 175 people whose mother tongue is Spanish live in my riding.

I am pleased to see a member on the other side of the House getting ready to rise. I did a little census and could not understand why, after 36 speeches, not one member from the other side of the House had spoken even though there are many constituents in several Liberal ridings whose mother tongue is Spanish. For example, in the riding of Alfred-Pellan, there are 3,865; in Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation, 220; in Bourassa, 6,375; in Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, 3,615; in Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, 65; in Hull—Aylmer, 2,415; in Honoré-Mercier, the government whip's riding, 4,720; in Laurentides—Labelle, 405; in Louis-Hébert, 1,980; and in Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, 2,800.

This shows that native Spanish speakers are present in large numbers in every riding in Canada. That is why we on this side of the House wonder why no government member has bothered making a speech on this important bill, which is going to help even more people understand Latin American culture and finally recognize the contributions Latin Americans have made to Canada and its communities.

Having spoken with farmers in my riding, I know they still desperately need people from those countries who are interested in coming to work in Canada. The door is open for people like that. My riding has plenty of jobs to offer them, and since we already have a well-established Latin American community, we can safely say that they can expect a warm welcome. We would gladly accommodate anyone who has gone through the regular immigration process and find them a job. Quebeckers and Latin Americans have the same Latin blood running through their veins. I think that is a fact worth mentioning.

Establishing Latin American heritage month is something very important that all hon. members of the House can achieve together. I hope that all hon. members will vote enthusiastically and unanimously in favour of Bill S-218.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 11:20 p.m.
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Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by commending my Latino brothers from Brazil and what I share with them. I am not of Latin American origin, but of Portuguese origin. I would also like to remind the House that on the government side, we all support this bill. We would be happy to see it return to the Senate to become law as soon as possible.

However, I would also like to remind the House that during the first hour of debate, my colleague from Honoré-Mercier delivered a very passionate speech with all his heart. He himself is Latin American and he explained why he believed that this bill deserved our full support. I think that on our side, we do not have much to add to what our colleague from Honoré-Mercier already said.

I represent a riding where there are roughly 5,000 people of Latin American origin. Over the years they moved to Brossard—Saint-Lambert and they have brought a lot to our community. I could take the same approach as my colleagues and start naming them all, but I doubt that I would have enough time to name all those who deserve to be recognized by their fellow Canadians.

I think all these months that we recognize in the House and designate as specific heritage months are extremely important to their respective communities because they celebrate our contributions to Canada. This is not just about what we receive, though we receive so much; it is also about our tremendous cultural contributions, which go well beyond food, dancing, and music. Culture also encompasses our values, our cultural wealth. The passage of time has made us who we are, has made us the peoples we are. That centuries-long past is what led us to choose immigration.

It is not always an easy path. I am not just talking about those who are driven to exile. I am talking about those who choose immigration, often, but not always, for economic reasons.

The choice to immigrate comes from a place of wanting to do better in life as well as from a desire to share and discover new horizons. I think the Latin American community is an extraordinary example of that. Not only did these people come here seeking a better life for themselves and their families, but also, they came to share a new perspective on life, a more relaxed, less rigid way of managing our time, for example. That is something I certainly believe in. They inspire us to really enjoy time with friends and family, to enjoy a less structured, less North American life. Those are the kinds of cultural features we share to create a friendlier, more easy-going culture.

We bring all these things with us when we immigrate, and they mean so much. That is why it is important to designate months to celebrate the heritage of Canada's various communities.

I am obviously very proud of the fact that, this month, in fact today, we are celebrating the first Portuguese heritage month on the Hill. We celebrated Italian heritage month and there are months when Jewish heritage is celebrated. We have a tremendous number of things to share and to give to our constituents.

The richness and diversity of what makes us such a dynamic and vibrant country often surprises those who visit Canada. I think that the one thing that really surprises tourists is how we have achieved diversity in harmony and succeeded in integrating it as part of our core Canadian values, such as freedom, justice, and order, and also the values of friendliness, sociability, and solidarity.

These are all elements that we should celebrate when we have months to highlight the heritage of each of our communities. I believe that much has already been said of the very important contribution of the Latin American community. Passing this bill is not really something we would think of opposing. It is quite natural that we want to completely support the memory of the senator, and we also believe that diversity enriches Canada. As our Prime Minister said, we are enriched by our diversity and we celebrate it. I believe that that is something the Liberal Party of Canada will always support. None of my caucus colleagues would even think of doubting the value of what it can contribute.

We have already covered a few months on the calendar, and there are a few left to celebrate all the other cultures that have helped make Canadian such a vibrant patchwork, with all of its cultures, influences, and characteristics. I am very pleased to support this bill and to finalize it so that it can be sent back to the Senate for royal assent as quickly as possible, so that we will be able to celebrate Latin American heritage month this October 2018.

I think that the entire Latin American community will be very happy and pleased that we are recognizing this community, and it will also be very proud of its rich culture. This culture includes not only the most recent aspects of Latin culture, but also all of the indigenous cultures that inspired present-day Latin American cultures.

Once again, I want to reiterate the support of government members for this bill. We will be very happy to see it sent back to the Senate as quickly as possible. I thank the House for finally giving me the opportunity to speak. I hope that we will be ready to vote very soon.

Motion in AmendmentLatin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC


Motion No. 1

That Bill S-218 be amended by deleting the short title.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand here today and salute the contribution of Latin Americans, people from Latin American countries, and their presence in Quebec, particularly in my riding of Longueuil-Saint-Hubert. I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to thank the authors of the bill and my colleagues here in the House who are responsible for bringing this bill forward for our consideration today.

The bill before us today invites Parliament to recognize that members of the Latin American community in Canada have made an invaluable contribution to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric. Designating a Latin American heritage month will allow Canadians to learn more about this contribution and ensure that it is never forgotten.

The bill also notes that Latin American communities from across the country would take advantage of Latin American heritage month to celebrate and share their unique culture and traditions with all Canadians.

What is more, the bill notes that October is an especially important month for Latin American communities the world over. It would designate October as Latin American heritage month across Canada.

This bill talks about the diversity of Latin American communities in Quebec and Canada from diverse countries and states and their significant contribution to the broader communities around them, to community spirit, the economy of our towns and villages, and to the social fabric of our country. The presence of these communities with which Quebeckers share a certain affinity, similar values and culture, and where—