Latin American Heritage Month Act

An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month

Status

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

Summary

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”.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

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 20th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month, standing in the name of the Member for Thornhill, the Order made on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, respecting the deferral of the recorded division on motion No. 1 at report stage standing in the name of the member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, be discharged and that the motion be deemed defeated; the bill be deemed concurred in at the report stage; the motion for third reading of the bill be deemed moved, the question on the motion be deemed put and a recorded division be deemed requested and taken immediately.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this bill to create Latin American Heritage Month.

I want to take this opportunity to highlight an organization in my riding, since we so rarely have the opportunity to do so. We try to do that during debates on bills and during members' statements, before question period.

I can explain how this ties directly to the importance of having a month to celebrate this heritage. I am specifically thinking about Solidarité Montérégie Amérique Centrale, an organization that operates primarily in my riding, and about Monique Messier, the chair of its board of directors, and her entire team. This organization has been around for years, and since I became a member of Parliament I have had the opportunity to attend their Arte y Cerveza fundraising soirees. These events allow the organization to continue operating, and provide opportunities for cultural sharing.

Cultural sharing is one of the most important things we can do in a diverse society like ours, and I would say that these events highlight most of all our values of solidarity. They focus on culture and include exhibits of all kinds of artworks, which explains the word Arte in the name. These soirees also provide an opportunity to learn about what this organization's volunteers are doing in Central America, and the money raised helps pay for the volunteers to get there.

I am very happy to say that I have been supporting this organization since becoming an MP. Bertrand St-Arnaud, the former MNA for Chambly and minister of justice, did a good thing when he allocated funding to that organization. I remember his speech when his ministry announced the funding. He said that the Quebec ministry of justice's main concern was the administration of justice and the courts, but that it also gave money to organizations that promote ideals of justice in Canada, Quebec, and abroad. That was his justification, and he was spot on, so I would like to take this opportunity to give him credit for that.

Events like that highlight the values of solidarity and sharing that are important to Quebeckers. They remind us that we can see beyond our borders, take the time to visit other countries and learn more about their cultures, and really make an important contribution.

When I think about Solidarité Montérégie Amérique Centrale, or SMAC, I remember seeing videos and photos taken during trips to help build schools or proper sanitary facilities for people in countries like Guatemala. That is highly commendable.

The sharing goes both ways though, and that is the beauty of this organization's mission. People from those countries also come visit us in Quebec and participate in activities hosted by our community organizations and our community. They come to share their art and culture. During these soirees, we get to connect with volunteers who talk about their experiences and with Guatemalans who tell us what the organization's work has done for their communities. That is extremely important, and it makes me so proud.

There are many organizations doing commendable work in our ridings. We can all agree on that. However, it is sometimes harder to convince people to go help out in other countries. We tend to help our neighbours and stay close to home, and with reason, that being said. Nevertheless, the opportunity to go help beyond our borders is extremely important. Canadians of Latin American origin, from Central America, contribute immensely to our culture. That is why it is important to have opportunities to honour their contributions.

It can be hard to see the point of a bill designating a month to celebrate the heritage of a particular cultural community. I myself have a cynical side, I admit. However, this is extremely important, because we have to duty to remember, to share, to exchange, and to celebrate. Whether it is for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, Canada Day, Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, or Sikh heritage month, we must always pay tribute to the efforts parliamentarians make to designate these months of recognition.

It is understandable that people view the purely symbolic value of such a month with a cynical eye, but it is important to take a few moments to stop and acknowledge that a given cultural community has made a substantial contribution and that meaningful exchanges have taken place. I myself am using the debate on this bill as an opportunity to talk about a major organization in my riding whose work would not normally be recognized in the House of Commons. That is why it is so vital to have opportunities like this.

However, before I go any further, I would like to apologize, Mr. Speaker, because I should have first paid tribute to the senator who sponsored this bill and who died tragically. We offer our condolences to his family and loved ones. This bill is part of his legacy. I also thank the member for Thornhill for introducing this bill.

The organization that I was talking about is Solidarité Montérégie Amérique Centrale or SMAC. I am pleased to continue to support that organization and I want to acknowledge its 20th anniversary in the House of Commons. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to its representatives for missing the anniversary celebration. I was unable to make it, because I was also the honorary chair for the Relay for Life in Chambly. Unfortunately, members cannot be in two places at once, even though we sometimes try.

I am very proud to support this organization and see it diversify its activities. SMAC started out as a cocktail-and-auction fundraiser. Today, it has grown and now it hosts a dance and an art exhibit. This year, events were held on both Friday and Saturday, and artists were invited. It is so nice to see that. I fully support these people and commend them for their efforts. As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, I wish this organization continued success.

In closing, I want to come back to what I was saying about designated months. We have to understand that we have some rather large communities. Since becoming a member of Parliament, I have been hearing my colleagues talk about certain cultural communities that represent one million Canadians, or 500,000 Canadians. It can be breathtaking to see such wonderful diversity. We must highlight diversity and encourage cultural exchanges. It is the best way to promote community spirit, love, and respect for our neighbours. Organizations that promote solidarity help in achieving that objective.

Again, I want to congratulate SMAC and the sponsor of this bill. Even when we think that a bill is purely symbolic, we must never turn our backs on the importance of celebrating an occasion and heritage with our neighbours in order to promote community spirit. These are the values of Quebeckers and Canadians, and I am proud to share those values.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague on the speech he just gave on Bill S-218.

I want to begin by paying tribute to the late Senator Tobias Enverga, the sponsor of this legislative measure and a great Filipino-Canadian who advocated for multiculturalism.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you in helping me to quiet things down in the House.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and the beautiful songs he treated us to.

I would like to pay tribute to the late Senator Tobias Enverga, the sponsor of this legislation and a great Filipino Canadian who advocated for multiculturalism. I would like to point out that he is the first Canadian of Filipino heritage to serve in the Senate. He was born in the Philippines and was appointed to the upper chamber in 2012 to represent Ontario. He proudly represented not only people from the Filipino community, but many different groups living in the greater Toronto area and elsewhere in Canada, and he did so in a very positive way.

We are debating this today thanks to the member for Thornhill, my colleague who was delighted to sponsor the bill in order to move it along in honour of Mr. Enverga. The bill reads as follows:

An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month

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;

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:

...

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

The month of October was chosen because that is the same month designated in the United States to mark this event.

Who are the members of the Latin American diaspora? By definition, they come from all parts of America where people mainly speak Spanish and Portuguese. We are talking about 20 or so countries in all, with 18 Spanish-speaking countries and one where Portuguese is spoken.

It was just announced that the World Cup will be held here. Latin American countries love soccer, or fútbol as some fans like me call it. I have many friends who are fans of soccer and who come from countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, which is a beautiful country where many people vacation, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru—and this gives me the opportunity to say hello to my good friend Marisol Hidalgo, who is originally from there and the wife of one of my French friends—the Dominican Republic, Salvador, Uruguay, and Venezuela. I have had the opportunity to visit and to vacation in some of these countries.

There are more than 400 million Spanish speakers in the world. It is currently the second most spoken language. More than 363 million of these speakers live in Latin America. I mention these big numbers because they are reflected in our international schools and language schools. We live in a bilingual country, where we speak English and French, but Spanish is often the third language children learn. It is a good tool for their future. My three children had the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, and I am proud that they are able to speak in this language.

Between 1996 and 2001 in Canada, the Latin American population increased by 32%, which is significant. Seven out of 10 people came between 1991 and 2011. According to the most recent data from the 2011 National Household Survey, there are approximately 750,000 people of Latin American origin. The population of Canada is about 34.5 million, so that represents a rather large community. The majority of members from this community were born abroad. Now, we can say that 32.5% were born in Canada. Canada has welcomed Latin American immigrants for more than fifty years.

Based on available data, we know that nearly 23% of immigrants came from the Americas. Although there are no absolute census numbers covering this broad and somewhat imprecise measure, we might estimate a probable demographic well over half a million men, women, and children, and this number is growing quickly.

I want to point out how much they contribute to Canada. They work, buy goods, contribute to the economy, and help fill our labour shortage. Everyone knows we are in the middle of a labour shortage.

In 2013, they surpassed the employment rate of people born in Canada. People often think that immigrants have a harder time finding work, but in this case, they surpassed the employment rate in the labour market. Tens of thousands of workers from Latin America come every year to work temporarily in various regions of Canada and in various sectors, especially in the agricultural sector, where there is a labour shortage.

Latin America is the fourth-largest source of immigration to Canada. That is really something. Those people bring with them a diversity of cultures, a variety of food, and a wealth of knowledge. Earlier I named most of the countries covered by this bill. We all know people who come from those areas. They are all friendly, kind, and intelligent people who contribute to the development of our wonderful country.

Why a Latin American heritage month? It is simply about paying homage to the culture, the traditions, and the contributions made by this community to our society.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in November in many countries, but the festivities start in October, hence the reason to start in October like the Americans.

October 12 is the day of indigenous resistance in Costa Rica, the day of respect for cultural diversity in Venezuela, the day of the Americas in Argentina and Uruguay, and children's day in Brazil.

Another interesting fact is that the United States celebrates exactly the same holiday, National Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15.

In 1988, Canada became the first country to pass a law on multiculturalism, simply known as the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

This official recognition is in line with other similar commemorations that reinforce how important cultural communities are to our Canadian identity, such as Black History Month in February and Asian Heritage Month in May.

On a more personal note, I am the son of immigrants. My mother and father were born in Egypt. I experienced the process of settling in our country and the desire to learn even more about everything that is good in Canada, while respectfully sharing our own family cultures.

Members should also know that this contributes to our collective history of protecting our rights and freedoms under the principles of peace, order, and good governance.

As mentioned by the sponsor of the bill, the member for Thornhill, the Latin American population in Canada is young. According to Statistics Canada, almost 50% of people of Latin American origin living in Canada are under 25 years old. In light of the difficulties caused by the demographic shock that we are currently experiencing, this is an interesting fact. This population is young and can contribute for many more years to the development of our country. Seniors represent less than 5% of those reporting Latin American origins in the last census, compared to 12% of all Canadians for the same age group. This is a noteworthy statistic.

I join all my colleagues here to pay tribute to Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr., the author of this legislation, by moving this bill forward and recognizing the month of October as Latin American heritage month here in Canada, much like they do in the United States. I would like to pay tribute to this culture and to these people who contribute to our development across the country.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am excited to talk about Latin America. When people first said Latin Americans want a month, I actually thought that we need more than a month with all that Latin America has to give and all the things we need to explore in Latin America. Thirty days is not enough time.

I am pretty excited because I used to be the chair of ParlAmericas and now my good friend from Kenora has taken on that role. He has done a great job. Canada has really carved itself a niche in that entire region. We are looked upon. We are respected. We are kind of like a big brother in a lot of ways. They seek us for advice on legislation. They seek us for advice on all sorts of regulations.

Through ParlAmericas we have done a great job in actually building bridges in countries right across the whole hemisphere. Now I can pick up the phone because of ParlAmericas and talk to somebody in Brazil at a moment's notice, or in Chile, Peru, or Costa Rica. Those are the things that we have done through ParlAmericas, bringing parliamentarians together and sharing best practices, what works and what does not work, and learning from each other. That has made us an even tighter knit community. That is to our benefit, to Canada's benefit, and to Latin America's benefit.

When we look at the potential in Latin America we just say “wow”. Looking at the people, whether they are Portuguese, Spanish, or French, the entire region has so much dynamic to it, so much flare and ambiance with a love of family and a love of life.

My first trip to Latin America was actually to Brazil. I remember being out at a restaurant at 11 o'clock at night and looking over at the table next to me. There were two families having dinner together and they were laughing. I was thinking, it is 11 o'clock at night, why are these kids out? Then talking to a friend of mine he said that it was two teenagers out on a date. The teenagers were bringing the entire family on a date. That is part of their tradition. That is part of their culture. That is something that is appreciated and celebrated. It is quite a bit different from my kids who if they were on a date I probably did not even know about it until a week later. Right away, I could see how much family meant to them.

Then talking to them about what they do on the weekends and in the evenings, they have a love for life. They really know how to live life, appreciate the small things in life, and pull all that value out of those small things, and treasure them, and treasure each other.

Canadians, when we are doing the nine to five, or nine to 10, or, in this case, nine to midnight or 10 to midnight, sometimes we forget we need to express that love for life and to have that joyful time among family and friends.

The next trip was to Peru, Chile, and Costa Rica. I had the honour of going down there with the Prime Minister on two occasions. Again, in those scenarios, the world leaders in those regions really respected Canada. I think there are many reasons why. Part of it was that we never preached. We never went down there and told them they had to do this or do that. We always went down there with a manner of respect. We listened. We learned. We would give advice if they asked for it. We led by example. They appreciated that.

One thing I found when working with people from Latin America is that, when doing business there, the people want to know who we are. They want to understand where people come from and about their families. Once they have a comfortable relationship, then they are ready to get on to business. It is so different from other countries in the world where one sits down, has a business meeting, and that is it. Latin American people really want to know who they are working with and who they are doing business with. It is such a nice concept to have that in a business relationship.

I remember being in Cartagena, at the OAS, or the Summit of the Americas, watching President Obama. I remember sitting in the runway in the Prime Minister's jet looking out the window and there was President Obama's jet, and then there was a little jet that was Hilary Clinton's jet. I was laughing that they both came in separate planes. Maybe there were security reasons for doing that.

However, I remember talking to some of my friends down there. I said, “Isn't it nice the Americans are here?” They said, “Yes, it's nice but they only come once in a while and they write a cheque and then they expect us to do what they want. They don't get to know us. They don't actually understand who we are and what we are doing. They just drop in, drop out, and say, this is what we want.” They do not like that. They like the Canadian approach where they are treated as a friend and a partner, where respect is shown.

I think that is why we see the warmth that we have with the people and the countries in that region. I think that is why we have trade agreements with Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Hopefully, we will see something in Mercosur countries somewhere down the road. Hopefully, we will do something with the Pacific Alliance that will even bring us closer and closer together. There are so many opportunities to do business and trade in that region.

As we do business and trade in those areas, their standard of living and quality of life are going to get better. Their ability to purchase more goods and have the things we have here in Canada will become easier. As we look at security in the region, it will become safer.

I encourage everyone, especially when it is minus-40 in Saskatchewan or Winnipeg, to acknowledge that Latin America is our saving grace sometimes. A lot of people from Saskatchewan travel and participate in tourism in places like Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Dominican Republic. A lot of people in my riding go and live in Mexico in the wintertime. They love Saskatchewan in the summertime. I would encourage everyone to come to Saskatchewan in the summertime. It is cheaper to come to Saskatchewan and travel because there is no carbon tax. I just had to get that in there.

However, a lot of people like to get away in the wintertime, whether it is for a week, two weeks, or a month. Where do they go? They go to Latin America. Why? It is the guaranteed sunshine and the friendly people. They love Canadians. They like who we are. They like to talk to us. They like to visit with us. It is such a nice environment and we have become such close friends.

The other thing we have had from Latin America, especially for our honey producers, is a stable force of labour through temporary foreign workers who come in the summer, work in the beehives, and do the work we cannot get Canadians to do. Then they go home and take care of their families in the wintertime, because they do not like Canadian winters, and I do not blame them. It has created a scenario where we have all these people coming into Saskatchewan in the springtime, working right through to September or October, and going back home. Again, families and friends are being created, connections are being created, and it has been a win-win for everyone involved.

I also remember the time I went to Honduras and toured a plant of a company from Montreal, whose name escapes me right now. As we toured that plant I saw how modern it was. Talking to the people on the floor, they said it was so nice that a Canadian company would invest in their region and give them jobs. Those jobs are well appreciated. The company is providing great value to the community, but also it is not taking advantage of the people in the community. It is treating them with respect, offering health care, a fair wage, and excellent working conditions. In fact, we could put that facility in Honduras in Montreal and we would not notice the difference. That is where Canadian companies have played a proper role in the region.

I would be remiss not to talk about Canadian companies in the mining sector in Latin America. We all know that the TSX is the exchange for the mining sector around the world, and we have a lot of Canadian companies doing business in Central and South America, and in the Caribbean. Our companies have recognized the importance of being good corporate citizens.

One of the things I did when I was travelling with ParlAmericas was that I always tried to make part of my trip a tour of a Canadian facility. For example, when I was in Suriname I went to see IAMGOLD's gold mine. One can actually go there and see how it is operating. The nice thing to say about those mines, and this mine in particular, is that the safety standards were equal if not better than they would be in Saskatchewan, Quebec, or anywhere in Canada. That is, again, working well to build our Canadian brand around the world.

When we look at all these things, 30 days probably is not enough time to celebrate our relationship with Latin America. In fact, if we were to go country by country, we could probably do two or three days for each country, just talking about their culture and heritage, and getting a good understanding of who they are.

This is a really good first step, and I am really excited to see this come forward. I am glad to speak to it, and really look forward to working with the people in Latin America into the future, both in my role as a parliamentarian, and even after, some day when I am no longer a parliamentarian, perhaps in the role of a tourist.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this tremendous opportunity to speak about Bill S-218, the Latin America heritage month act, brought forward by the hon. member for Thornhill. This is a wonderful opportunity to speak about the many great contributions Latin America has made to Canada. I am glad this bill is now being discussed to honour the memory of late senator Tobias Enverga, who I will talk about later in my speech.

In my hometown of Edmonton, Latin America is celebrated annually with the Edmonton Latin Festival. This event is held during the third week of August every year in Churchill Square. The energy felt during this event is contagious and a great chance for the people of Edmonton to try different foods and dances, and learn more about Latin American culture. At the festival, there is an opportunity for people to learn about different dances, including the zumba, mariachi, samba, mambo, the tango, and salsa. Latin American bands are also a huge part of the festival and the upbeat tunes always put smiles on so many faces. This Edmonton Latin Festival is growing every year and I encourage anyone visiting Edmonton in August to stop by and experience the Latin American culture.

Latin American festivals are held across the country, with annual events in Toronto, Vancouver, and right here in Ottawa. These events are an excellent way for Canadians to come together to celebrate Latin America and learn more about the cultural and ancestral heritage of many fellow Canadians. There are estimated to be about 600,000 people of Latin American descent living in Canada. Latin America is the fourth largest source of immigrants to Canada, with more and more people from Latin America arriving annually. My home province of Alberta has one of the highest concentrations of Latin Americans within it, and I am proud to be from a province that has welcomed and embraced so many Latin American immigrants and their families.

Football, or soccer, as we call it, is a national sport of Brazil and a popular game of many Latin American countries. Just today, we learned Canada will host some of the World Cup games during FIFA 2026. Some of these games will likely be in Edmonton, and I am so excited to celebrate the sport with fans from around the world during that World Cup.

Alberta has become a host to a variety of Spanish bilingual programs in both public and private school boards from Edmonton to Calgary and across the province, encouraging young Canadians from Latin American descent or those who are simply interested in the culture to pursue language studies. Sweet Grass Elementary School in my riding of Edmonton Riverbend is host to the well-known international Spanish academy program, which strives to help students develop language and literacy skills in Spanish and teaches students to use both Spanish and English to communicate. The program has had an emphasis on helping many students to learn about the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries, like those in Latin America.

As well, universities across Canada offer both Spanish and Portuguese classes, proving that it is never too late to enrich your life with a second language or increase your knowledge of the culture. These programs also offer a means for immigrants from Latin American countries to stay in touch with their heritage and to continue to express and learn about their native culture. The culture these students learn about is rich and diverse, making for an educational and exciting program.

Many students often travel to different countries in Latin America on exchange programs to get first-hand experience of the culture and lifestyle. The history of Latin America is not only important to those of Latin American descent, but to all Canadians, and all those in the western hemisphere. This part of the world contributes to the global economy and the relationship between states in America reflects the importance Latin America plays in global relations.

Canada is proud to be a member of the Organization of American States, which includes 35 independent states of America, the vast majority of which are Latin American. Groups like OAS connect all Americans through politics, the economy, and the recognition of each other's culture.

Latin America is a geographically diverse part of our hemisphere, encompassing Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. It is comprised of 20 sovereign states and approximately 20 million people who speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French. The diverse climate promises skiing, surfing, hiking, and much more for both residents and tourists, attracting many people from around the world to experience not only the culture but the land itself.

Just like the area is geographically diverse, each country is culturally diverse. The Aztec empire was built in a modern-day Mexico City and the Aztecs developed an alphabet, created ceramic dishes, and left behind beautiful art. They left their legacy on modern-day Mexico with some parts of their language and traditional food still in use.

Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, was founded in 1500 by the Kingdom of Portugal, though indigenous peoples inhabited the country before the Europeans arrived. Like Mexico, art and pottery were important parts of Brazil's development. Today, it is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world.

I am giving my colleagues this history and geography lesson to really highlight how remarkable the area of Latin America is. There are so many countries, languages, cultures, and people living in this region of the world. I believe it is important to recognize this area of the world and its peoples through a Latin American heritage month here in Canada. Throughout this heritage month, we would be able to celebrate all that Latin America and Latin American people have to offer the world and also acknowledge and honour their history and current presence in the world.

The idea for Latin American history month came from the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who was appointed to the upper house in 2012. Senator Enverga was the first senator of Filipino descent appointed to the Canadian Senate, and with his perspective as an immigrant, he saw the need for a new month to celebrate Latin America. He cited Black History Month and Asian Heritage Month as examples of educational and celebratory months that give all Canadians the opportunity to learn about different cultures and heritages. He argued a Latin American heritage month was deserving of national recognition, and I certainly agree.

Some Canadians might wonder why we have heritage months. These months are important to learn about and recognize the different cultures that have shaped Canada into what it is today. Learning about different cultures, countries, and parts of the world gives our citizens different perspectives and an appreciation for Canada. In May, Canada marked its first-ever Jewish Heritage Month, a great opportunity to reflect on the contributions of Jewish Canadians. I look forward to heritage months every year because I see them as an opportunity for learning and enrichment.

Senator Enverga introduced a bill in the last Parliament, Bill S-228, to create a Hispanic heritage month, which would complement designations already marked by the province of Ontario and the city of Toronto. However, the bill was a casualty of the 2015 election. After that, Senator Enverga altered the bill to focus on Latin America, which encapsulates not only Hispanic culture but francophone communities in Haiti and indigenous peoples in Latin America.

The impact of Latin American culture on Canada cannot be understated. Traditional Latin American food has become common on menus in tens of thousands of restaurants across the country. Spanish is one of the most common languages spoken by Canadians after English and French, and salsa dancing continues to be a popular hobby for many Canadians.

Canada was declared a multicultural nation about 50 years ago. Our multiculturalism designation recognizes the great contributions of so many immigrants who have shaped the landscape of this country. In our bigger cities like Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, a person can visit so many corners of the world through restaurants, festivals, stores, and films. Our nation is admired by so many people across the world for our openness, acceptance, and ability to live among one another peacefully.

In the coming years, with birth rates predicted to continue decreasing, immigration will become even more important for workforce and population maintenance. I am proud to be from a country where immigration is not only happily accepted, but widely encouraged and embraced. I admire immigrants for their courage to leave their country and start a new life in Canada, which often includes learning English or French. Immigrants from Latin America have a great impact on the Canadian workforce, our culture, and our heritage. We are proud to accept Latin Americans from a diverse range of countries into Canada.

I think it is a great idea to formally recognize the month of October as Latin American heritage month, and I wholeheartedly support the hon. member for Thornhill's private member's bill for this declaration. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak about the bill today, and thankful for the contributions and hard work of so many people of Latin American descent who now call Canada home. I hope to be able to join my colleagues in celebrating Latin American heritage month this coming October.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk here today on Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. It is very important, not only for Canada, but also for my constituency of Windsor West. We are one of the border cities. In fact, I would argue we have a unique feature in our area in that not only were Latin Americans part of the founding of Windsor and Essex County, they are part of our continued trade every day. In fact, approximately 40% of Canada's daily trade with the United States happens through my community of Windsor, and it happens along two kilometres of the international border. We have four crossings that are part of the overall footprint for this trade. What is important is that the—

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, now we understand why we are two sword lengths apart in the chamber. I feel more secure with the Sergeant-at-Arms near me.

You are able to articulate in such a colourful spirit this afternoon, going into a long evening.

It is important in a practical sense to recognize Latin American month and the economic development and the cultural experience in my riding. Not only do we trade 40% with the United States, but the vast majority of that also continues on to Mexico and to other Latin American countries.

We celebrate with the Fiesta Latino festival. The fourth annual festival will be June 30. This is important. Some may think that these months, even though they are symbolic, are very important. Our critic, the member for Vancouver East, has done wonderful work on this. She knows quite well that part of our founding and the importance of our communities and our country is not only having the connection of coming here, but it is also the continued connection with culture, heritage, and the experience of where they came from, including family members.

I want to note one of the most difficult and serious things that the government needs to look at is visitor visas, whether for Latin American countries or other countries around the world. Whether they be for weddings or funerals, visitor visitations in this country have ground to a halt. It is very serious. As we continue to recognize important connections like we are recognizing today and continue to grow those things, we cannot get away from the practical reality that is the continued connection of the cultural experience.

We have so many different independent days that are connected. We have trading partners in Latin America as well as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile. These are all countries we have strong economic and social relationships with, and they have business relationships that come back to our communities.

As I look at this through a local lens, I am proud that we have many Latin Americans who not only come to the Windsor-Essex area, but also Chatham and Leamington to be part of our economy. They are temporary foreign workers who have expertise in the agriculture sector and are part of our families in many respects. In the House, there have been debate to try to improve their rights. We have had many families and workers' issues brought about because of the value they add to our country and communities. The Windsor-Essex region and Chatham-Kent-Leamington region have that type of economic connection to it.

We see the influence of those communities in the downtown districts or business districts where there are restaurants, grocery stores, and different staples that are basically built around that economic development. When we are looking at trade and commerce, those have become economic powerhouses. One should not underestimate the greenhouse industry and the agricultural industry that contribute to the welfare of our country and our taxation base. That is critical.

Festivals like we have in Windsor increase our awareness and connect us to social justice issues. They also connect to a number of environmental issues that we are trying to push and develop. This includes celebrities in art, music or other realms, but also workers. That is important to recognize.

We had a delegation from Mexico here about two months ago. One of the key things they talked about was the working conditions in their auto industry and in other industries involved in the trade agreements we have. Family members and workers were challenged not only in the private sector industries, but also in the public sector, which includes universities, other educational institutions, and so forth.

Historically, we can look at Nicaragua and other places from which we have had people come to Canada looking for freedom and its expression, sometimes escaping difficult and extreme situations. They have been front and centre in founding and keeping a strong sense of social justice, acting as a moral compass for our own communities and our country.

In many respects, they have become agents of social change for our communities and for the globe. In fact, many people with different heritage backgrounds are coming to our country. Some are fighting for issues of social justice and welfare. After escaping regimes that have significant cruel and inhumane practices, they have now begun to form a better world for many more people.

Latin American heritage month is not just about the experience of the music, the food, and the colourful things that take place. It is about continuing to enshrine the responsibility we have in raising the next generation in a global village that works for social justice and humanity. What better way to do it than to continue to recognize not just the past, but, most importantly, the future? That is what this does.

The fourth annual festival in Windsor, happening on June 30, will be one of the many events across Canada proudly celebrating Latin heritage in our communities, and celebrating our continued economic, social, and cultural development in our neighbourhoods, our provinces, our country, and other places, like Latin homelands, in the world.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute honour to stand in the House today and speak to Bill S-218. This bill would designate the month of October each and every year Latin American heritage month.

Permit me to begin by paying tribute to the late Senator Enverga, who was the author of this bill. He was the first Filipino Canadian to sit in the Senate, and he was a proud voice for his community during this time. Senator Enverga also brought a tremendous amount of passion, energy, and commitment to everything he did in this place, and we honour and respect him for that. He worked tirelessly in his role as senator, and he used his position to advocate for the most vulnerable members of society. In fact, he was a diligent champion for people with Down syndrome and a strong advocate for diversity and multiculturalism in Canada.

Senator Enverga sat as co-chair of the Canada–Philippines Interparliamentary Group and inaugurated the annual Filipino Independence Day flag-raising on Parliament Hill, which is something we celebrated earlier this week. The senator loved his family, he loved his community, and he loved his country. He was proud to be Canadian. It is my hope that this private member's bill will pass through the House quickly, in honour of his memory.

What would Latin American heritage month look like? First, let us get an idea of the countries that would be involved. Latin America encompasses all the countries in the western hemisphere where Spanish, French, and Portuguese are spoken. This list is extensive. It includes Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Haiti, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay; and the French colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, St. Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy. Latin America clearly encompasses many different people and many different ways of life.

There are many Canadians of Latin American descent. According to the 2011 census, nearly 545,000 people of Latin American origin live in Canada, a number that has continued to grow in the last seven years. Canadians of Latin American origin make up one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada. Clearly there is a substantial population of these individuals, and they are ready to celebrate with us.

Canada has a strong history of partnership with Latin American countries. Our nation looks forward to helping in the continued development, growth, and integration of the entire hemisphere.

As Conservatives, we have a strong history of partnership with Latin America. One of the most significant decisions in Canada's relations with Latin America took place under the government of Brian Mulroney, when he opted to join the Organization of American States as a full member in late 1989. We remember the words of the former external affairs minister, Joe Clark. He said, “For too long Canadians have seen this hemisphere as our house; it is now time to make it our home.” I fondly recall former prime minister Stephen Harper visiting Colombia, Chile, Barbados, and Haiti as one of his first major trips overseas. Members can see that Canada's relationship with Latin American countries is deeply valued.

When it comes to celebrating Latin American culture and heritage, there is a great deal we can talk about. The culture of Latin America is diverse and rich, with beautiful music and dance, delicious food, and stunning natural landmarks.

With regard to dance and music, Latin American music and dance are both fun and challenging. The music is known for its strong rhythms, large percussion sections, and signature horns, and when we hear music from these regions, it is difficult not to start dancing. Often the different dances incorporate a lot of hip movement as well as quick steps and spins, something I would imagine you would be quite good at, Mr. Speaker. From the Caribbean region, we get rhythms like salsa and bachata. Brazil is famous for being the original place of the samba, a cheerful dance often performed at Carnival. The tango is another Latin dance. It originated in Argentina. I am sure these dances would be a lot of fun for all of us, and I look forward to the celebrations that are to come. Dance and music are a big part of this culture, and I look forward to the various festivities after declaring October Latin American heritage month.

Another significant aspect of Latin America is the food. I am sure all of us can appreciate the vast contributions of Latin America to the international culinary scene. Latin food is delicious and colourful and often full of interesting spices and exotic ingredients. Each country has signature dishes it is well known for.

From Mexico, we have the classic tacos, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, and more. Authentic Mexican food is very spicy, and they use a lot of chilies, which maybe is not for everyone but is certainly enjoyable for many. From Venezuela, we get the arepa, a round, flat corn patty filled with various fillings, such as cheese, avocado, meat, or beans. Argentina and Chile give us empanadas, hot patties made from flour and filled with meat, cheese, and beans. In Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, we eat a lot of grilled meat.

As members can see, there is a lot of good food going on in Latin America, which will also be incorporated into our festivities, should this bill pass.

Latin American countries are also known for their beautiful landscapes and natural beauty. The many natural wonders attract tourists from around the world. Between Argentina and Brazil are the Iguazu Falls. At 269 feet, these falls dwarf Niagara Falls and are surely a sight to be seen.

In Peru, people can visit the Colca Canyon, which is about twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and is populated with towns founded in Spanish colonial times. While in Peru, people can also stop by Machu Picchu, which is one of the seven wonders of the world. Another incredible sight is the Amazon River, the longest river in the world, stretching at least 6,400 kilometres across South America. Its source is in the Andes Mountains and it empties in the Pacific Ocean.

With mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and canyons, this region of the world is filled with beautiful natural landmarks.

Of course, I cannot give a speech about Latin America without mentioning soccer, as it has been in so many speeches already. The fast-paced game is played throughout the region, and many accomplished teams have come from Latin American countries. I look forward to seeing many of these teams play in the World Cup this summer.

While there are many things to celebrate and enjoy in Latin American culture, we must acknowledge that this culture is diverse, and our country does not support everything done in each and every one of these countries. We strongly condemn the human rights violations committed by the Venezuelan government, and we urge the powers that be to establish a true democracy and to respect the dignity of human rights in their governing practices.

We also condemn the human rights atrocities committed against the Colombian people and the faulty jail sentences given to many in Peru. We call upon all Latin American countries to respect human rights.

That said, Latin American heritage month is about celebrating the common people and the culture of Latin America. Why is it important to celebrate Latin American heritage month in Canada? As we have already established, Canada has a large Latin American population, one that continues to grow and contribute positively to Canadian society. This is an opportunity to honour it. We have many other months, days, and weeks dedicated to celebrating other cultures and heritages. It seems fitting, then, that we would take another month to celebrate Latin American culture. Surely we can find the opportunity to do that.

I look forward to this bill passing, and when it does, I look forward to celebrating alongside my Latin American friends. In the company of hospitable people, beautiful music, enjoyable dance styles, and delicious food, I know that October, with all of its celebrations, will be a time we do not want to miss.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, this evening, I am very pleased to speak to Bill S-218, which seeks to designate October as Latin American heritage month.

Thanks to my two daughters, Mélinda and Marie-Catherine, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about Latin American culture. When they were teenagers, my daughters became very close friends with the wonderful Cornejo and De Leon Velasquez families from El Salvador and the equally wonderful Neto family from Mexico. I was therefore able to discover this unique culture and often share delicious meals with these families. I remember Ms. De Leon Velasquez's delicious pupusas and tamales and the Neto family's amazing guacamole. What can I say about Latin American culture? Its music brings back memories of girls nights with my daughters and friends. The music of Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Luis Fonsi, and Shakira, among others, made us dance, sing, and most importantly helped us discover the beauty of Latin American heritage.

Latin Americans brought colour and flavour into our lives. They shared with us their way of life and taught us to be more open to a people who may have had difficulty integrating into our society when they first arrived in Quebec or Canada. They are now quite well integrated and are sharing their culture, music, and food with us.

By designating a Latin American heritage month, we will be opening ourselves to the world. We will be opening ourselves up to new cultures and a new vision of who we are as Quebeckers, Canadians, and in my case, as a French Canadian woman.

Unfortunately, I have not learned the language. I only know two words in Spanish, hola and qué tal. My daughters and my grandson speak Spanish. My seven-year-old grandson has friends from Mexico. I think it is great that at age seven he is learning French, English, and Spanish, and that he is discovering Latin American culture. I think it is great that this bill highlights the importance of Latin American heritage.

What can we say about these Latin Americans who come here to lend a hand? In 2015, 9,000 Mexican and Guatemalan agricultural workers arrived in Quebec to help us in the fields. In my riding alone, there are many Guatemalans and Mexicans, especially in Île d'Orléans for the strawberry harvest. In the winter, more and more Mexicans come to Quebec to enjoy everything that our winters have to offer. We can learn a lot about ourselves from Mexican or Latino culture. Through their eyes and their friendship I realize how fortunate I am to spend time with them. They helped open my eyes to the world. They explained their culture and religion to me; how different they are from mine. Thanks to my daughters, they helped me discover the splendour of the Latin American community. That was in my old riding. In my new riding, I have a larger number of agricultural workers.

When I was the MP for Beauport—Limoilou, there was a very active community in Saint-Pie-X. There were always Guatemalans, Mexicans, and Salvadorans at Parc Bardy. All those wonderful people formed a community together with francophones from Ivory Coast and people from Senegal. My riding was multicultural. Multiculturalism is a great way to engage with the world. When my girls were teenagers and we went over to the Cornejos' or the De Leon Velasquezes' place, we got used to watching telenovelas. I told them I thought the shows were cheesy, but really, they were no cheesier than American tabloids.

The Latin American community is very tight-knit and family-oriented. Quebeckers are pretty family-oriented too, but we are more self-absorbed, and that is a shame. Latin American families offer a different perspective.

My girls are 29 and 30 now, and they still have the same friends. I knew Neto when he was 13 or 14, and now he is a young man with two daughters of his own. I think that is wonderful; they are just so beautiful. From my grandson's perspective, they are a kind of bridge between what we are and what they are. That community's culture is very important to me.

Usually, it is parents who raise children, but I am grateful to my girls for teaching me to be open to the rest of the world. When we take an interest in another culture and try to understand where people are coming from to see where they are going, when we understand that despite their differences other people can complement us, that changes everything.

This kind of bill may seem unimportant to some people, but it is very important to me because it underscores something very special: we are open to all communities. Today, our focus is on the Latin American community.

Today I would like to send greetings to Neto and the Cornejo and De Leon Velasquez families. I thank them for introducing me to their magnificent culture.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, It is a pleasure, as always, to stand in the House and take part in the important conversations we have at the heart of Canadian democracy. Today I am pleased to join the conversation surrounding S-218, the Latin American heritage month act. I am especially proud to speak to this bill sponsored by my friend the late Hon. Senator Enverga.

I would like to say a few words about Senator Enverga before I discuss the bill.

Senator Enverga was the first Canadian of Filipino descent to be appointed to the Senate. He represented my home province of Ontario in the upper house after being appointed in 2012. He did outstanding work for the Filipino community, but also for a number of communities in the greater Toronto area, and across the country, my riding including.

Speaking of my riding, we worked hand in hand for a number of years. Sometimes we met each other five or six times a week in the different communities for the different community functions all around the GTA. It was a pleasure to have been able to call him my friend.

Senator Enverga passed away on Thursday, November 16, while on parliamentary business in Colombia. However, even after his passing, Senator Enverga's Latin American heritage month bill lives on. This is his legacy. I am proud to be able to speak to the bill, and to contribute my thoughts here today.

I would like to express my full support for this act. Multiculturalism is at the very core of our Canadian identity. Bill S-218 recognizes the many major contributions of the Canadian Latin American community to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric. It recognizes that the Latin American community is an important part of our diverse nation and collective heritage.

I hope members of the Latin American community across the country are able to celebrate Latin American heritage month. Further, I hope the community is able to use it to share its unique culture and traditions with all Canadians.

Given the strong and growing presence of the Latin American community in Canada, the formal recognition of Latin American heritage is important. This will provide Canadians of all backgrounds a perfect opportunity to recognize and reflect on the contributions of this community. Together we can celebrate our diverse society in Canada.

Some may say that the recognition of this community means very little to bettering the lives of the Latin American communities in Canada. However, I would argue that the bill is one more meaningful way Canada can work toward being a more inclusive nation that celebrates and accepts people from all backgrounds and walks of life. The bill recommends that the government recognize the contributions that Latin American Canadians have made to Canadian society and Canadian culture for future generations by declaring each October Latin American heritage month.

I am proud to support the bill. I know all of our Conservative members, and of course the previous Conservative government, have reflected on the contributions that Latin American Canadians have made to Canada. We are strong allies of the community, and are thankful for its contributions to Canadian society. I will be happy to support and recognize the unique culture that Latin Americans bring to the table.

The bill reads, “Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the month of October is to be known as “Latin American Heritage Month”.” It is important that we designate October as Latin American heritage month, as it is a very meaningful month for the Latin American community at home and abroad. It is particularly important because it is the month that marks the end of the annual season of the independence celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Designating October as Latin American heritage month would be a meaningful way to remember, celebrate, and educate the public about their contributions.

By passing this bill, we will provide monumental appreciation and support for the community. This is important in respecting multiculturalism in Canada.

We have seen many examples of this type of legislation at work. We can look to Asian Heritage Month and Black History Heritage Month just to name a few. We have also seen Italian Heritage Month and Portuguese Heritage Month, both passed into law just last year, and just recently we celebrated Jewish Heritage Month. The work done in this regard does a lot toward educating our youth in schools and sharing the vibrant cultures of the different communities that contribute to our great country.

Latin America should be no different. Its community in Canada is among the fastest growing cultural groups in our country. According to Statistics Canada, between 1996 and 2001, the number of individuals reporting Latin American heritage had risen by 32%, at a time when the national population only grew at a rate of 4%.

Canadians of Latin American heritage have played an active role in communities across our country, going back to the early 1970s.

It is clear that the Latin American community is rapidly growing in our diverse society. From a community that had less than 3,000 members before the 1970's, over the next decades, the community will see rapid expansion and will continue to strengthen beyond most expectations. According to Statistics Canada, there were close to 250,000 Latin Americans in Canada at the start of the 21st century. By the end of 2006, their numbers more than doubled, reaching over 527,000. It is clear that Canada's Latin community is rapidly expanding and becoming evermore present in our diverse society.

Again, I am extremely proud of the work that Hon. Senator Enverga did for the Latin American community in Canada. I hope to see this legislation pass. As Senator Tobias Enverga said, “Few countries in the world are as open and accepting to people who come from other countries to settle and make a new life for themselves...”.

This is important work for the Latin American community. I truly believe that designating the month of October to be Latin American heritage month would be a meaningful opportunity to celebrate another part of our uniquely Canadian multicultural society, just as we have seen done before.

I value the contributions made to Canada by Latin Americans and I am proud to stand in support of this legislation. I hope everyone in the House will support Bill S-218.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this evening to speak in support of Bill S-218, which would enact Latin American heritage month. There is a growing Latin American community in Barrie—Innisfil and it is for them that I rise tonight.

I will be speaking about Senator Enverga. In honour of Senator Enverga, I would love to ask the pages for dos cervezas, por favor.

I also want to thank the hon. member for Thornhill for sponsoring the bill in the House, a bill that I believe to be extremely important so that we can honour the legacy of Senator Enverga and what he was trying to do. Of course, Senator Enverga died in November of 2017, in Colombia, while there on parliamentary business. It was a sad day for all of us when we found out. I know some our colleagues were in Colombia with Senator Enverga and are still troubled by what happened on that day in November.

Senator Enverga was appointed to the Senate on September 6, 2012, by former Prime Minister Harper. It was a joyous moment in the Filipino community, because Senator Enverga was the first Filipino senator ever appointed to the Senate. As we celebrate the 120th anniversary of Filipino Independence Day, I know the impact Senator Enverga had on the Filipino community. Shortly after his death, the Bayanihan Club of Simcoe County was holding its Christmas dinner, as it does annually, and there was an incredible tribute to Senator Enverga and what he had done. Many tears were shed that night because the emotion was still raw as a result of his death. I know he is tremendously loved, not just within the Canadian Filipino community but also within the Barrie—Innisfil Filipino community.

Senator Enverga was first elected as a Toronto Catholic school board trustee. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He was a voice for those with special needs, and what a soft and gentle voice Senator Enverga had. He was a champion of multiculturalism here in Canada and some of his parliamentary work, which is too numerous to mention, included matters relating to Canada's indigenous peoples, oceans, waterways, fisheries, ecosystems, and economic resources, as well as matters related to banking, trade, and commerce. He was certainly involved in agriculture and parliamentary procedures and rights. He was a strong voice on both of those issues and many of us in the House can learn valuable lessons from Senator Enverga and the work that he did.

In his community, there literally was no event that Senator Enverga did not travel to as co-chair of the GTA's Filipino Heritage Month celebrations. He served on the Canadian Multicultural Council and founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was an honourable member of this place and he is sorely missed. However, it is his legacy with respect to this piece of legislation that I hope all members of the House will support, on behalf of Senator Enverga.

As I said earlier, the Latin community in Barrie—Innisfil is a growing and dynamic community. The numbers are growing. The culture, food, and experiences of Latin America and Latin heritage are so prevalent now in Barrie—Innisfil that almost every event that I go to somewhere in my riding, there are members of the Latin community present. There are several key important members, such as Nohemi Hernández-Buitrago, and events like the Mother's Day Fiesta and the numerous Latin dance parties that occur. I have actually gotten very good at doing the salsa because of attendance at these parties.

However, they also help in other Latin communities, teaming up just recently with the Innisfil Latin Organization to raise money for the youth of Guatemala who are affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano, or the “fire” volcano as it is known. It just recently erupted, and many people lost their lives and villages were buried in ash. This community rallied together, raising money for food, medicine, and other needs of rescue workers.

That really is what Latin people do. They come together. They are so strong in their community and in their commitment to the community. The other thing they do is promote ESL classes for Latino community members. In fact, if one goes to the Barrie community Latin foundation Facebook page, one will see a schedule of those summer classes, which will occur from nine to 1:30 on the dates specified.

One of the most disappointing things for me is that there is a church in my riding that offers English as a second language to many newcomers from Latin America, and because of the government's Canada summer jobs attestation, it did not qualify because it refused to buy into the Liberal government's and the Prime Minister's ideology. Therefore, there are some people within the Latin community who are not going to receive ESL language training this year because of the failure to receive money under the Canada summer jobs grant.

The Innisfil Latin Organization is really growing, and it serves as a communication network for the different needs of the Hispanic community in Ontario. They have a meeting point in Innisfil, and everyone is welcome to attend. They support each other, get more resources and tools, and help the Latino community. I can think of one person in particular, Nina Donayre, who teaches English as second language classes for seniors who are newcomers to Innisfil. This is the way they rally around each other to try to help each other. In fact, I was just talking to Nina at the Innisfil beach recreation centre, and she wants to do more work and outreach to the Latin community.

There are others as well such as Yudi Hibbs and Chris Mathson who are strongly involved in the Latino community, as well as Manuel Antonio Vera and Katherine Lozano Contreras, who are key players in the Innisfil Latino community. They do a tremendous amount of work. I have been to some of the dance events they have, as well as entertainment, parties, birthdays, network share job information, and immigration information. This is where my office can play a key role in providing a service and being that conduit to help them out. As well, they have English as a second language workshops and how to keep Spanish in our homes. They do activities for children, provide recipes, and just provide tremendous contributions to the Barrie—Innisfil community. They are literally everywhere.

This past weekend, the Rotary Family Fun Day took place at the Innisfil beach recreation centre and there they were. I know they are going to be at the Innisfil Ribfest this weekend, and the mayor and I are going to be there. It is probably the only community in Canada where we get the mayor of Innisfil and the member of Parliament for Barrie—Innisfil joining together to sell beer tickets at Ribfest. This is the kind of community we have, and Mayor Wauchope and I often joke about that.

The important part of this bill is that it would recognize the contributions Latin American Canadians have made to Canadian society. This is precisely what Senator Enverga thought of when he developed this bill, the richness and diversity of Latin American language and culture and the importance of reflecting upon Latin American heritage and culture for future generations by declaring the month of October as Latin American heritage month.

Later, the hon. member for Huron—Bruce will be speaking about the contribution Latin Americans have made to the game of baseball in this country. He will be talking specifically about the Blue Jays and some of the members of the Hall of Fame. I do not want to give too much away, but it is going to be great.

I have experienced the Latin community and how it has enriched Barrie—Innisfil. In the words of Shakira, “Hips Don't Lie”:

I never really knew that she could dance like this
She makes a man wants to speak Spanish

I support this bill wholeheartedly.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 6:55 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise tonight to speak to Bill S-218, a bill for the creation of a Latin American cultural month in the month of October. Obviously, this is a heated debate over a very controversial bill, which is why we have six hours devoted to it.

I have been a member of Parliament for seven years. This is the first time I have been allowed to rise in debate during private members' hour when it was not my own bill. I spoke to my own bill, Bill C-442 in the previous Parliament, which created a Lyme disease strategy. For those who are political nerds and might wonder why it would be that a member in my position does not usually speak to a private member's bill, it is because private members' business is usually brief and speaking slots are hard to find. For some reason this evening I was able to get a much-coveted speaking slot on a Latin American heritage month for Canada.

For viewers, or historians opening up Hansard at some point covered in dust some decades from now, we should reveal that the successive six hours of debate on a non-controversial private member's bill is a tribute to political and procedural shenanigans in this place, and somehow or other, credit or blame—one might say how clever—is to Conservatives, who managed to force an extra five hours of debate on this bill. That is not to minimize that this is a great bill, but I do want to explain why we are here.

To anyone watching or anyone who cares about Latin American heritage, as I do, there is no disrespect intended, but there are more pressing matters facing the nation. However, tonight for six hours we are debating Latin American heritage month.

I want to turn my attention to that and start, as others have, by paying tribute to a departed colleague from the other place, Senator Enverga, whom I knew. His death was a terrible shock to all of us. He was on parliamentary business when he died quite suddenly, and it was a terrible thing as is always the case when someone dies unexpectedly doing his or her work on behalf of this place. This private member's bill comes to us from someone who did not have Latin American heritage, and that is quite interesting.

I am happy to support it. I want to say that in my riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, while we have a very vibrant community that is Latin American, it is indeed small. Spanish is spoken and Portuguese is spoken, but not by very many. I do want to share, though, that Spanish names and Spanish heritage are commonly found in the geography of place. In the colonial waves that came across Turtle Island, the Spaniards of course came. Looking at my riding, my representation is Saanich—Gulf Islands. “Saanich”, of course, is indigenous, from the Sencoten word: WSÁNEC. It actually means “the people who are rising”.

However, in the Gulf Islands there is Galiano Island, which is named after a Spanish explorer from 1792. There is Saturna Island. Saturna Island is actually named for a naval schooner, not a person. The Santa Saturnina came to the Gulf Islands in 1791. I could digress and discuss the pig war that took place at Saturna Island. It was a hotly contested piece of real estate. It is amazing that it is not now. If there are people who have never really looked at a map of southern Vancouver Island, they should because they will find that where I live is actually south of the 49th parallel and I look due east at the state of Washington. It is a territory that is entirely shared lands and waters.

Some of those shared waters are the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Juan de Fuca goes way back. Juan de Fuca was actually a Greek, but he was exploring on behalf of King Philip II of Spain in the 1580s. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is one that is terribly threatened by Aframax tankers loaded with dilbit, but that is a different debate.

The entertainment from across the way may distract me from telling members about Portuguese Joe, but this is fascinating.

Portuguese Joe was the first European to live in Stanley Park. He was born in the Azores in 1828, and he lived in Stanley Park outside of where Vancouver is now. He married the granddaughter of none other than Chief Kiapilano. He really brought Portuguese culture and heritage to Vancouver proper, the Lower Mainland, and in his later years, he moved to Reid Island. He actually bought a chunk of Reid Island, which is off Galiano Island.

He passed away on Reid Island, having had two first nations wives. The first was, as I mentioned, the granddaughter of Chief Kiapilano, and the second was from the Sechelt Nation.

All of this connects indigenous culture and Latin American culture, on which is I want to reflect.

So far tonight we have talked of Latin American culture exclusively in its colonial connotations. We have talked about Spanish dancing, Latin language, and yummy food. Let me just cast our minds to the reality that Latin America is an indigenous place. We stand tonight on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Nation, and much of Latin America is the traditional territory of the Mayan people and the Quechua-speaking peoples.

This is being reflected at UBC right now. For anyone who wants to go to UBC's Museum of Anthropology, starting on May 17 and running until October 8, there an exhibition entitled “Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America”. There is a write-up in The New York Times if members want to read about it.

Those who put this exhibit together looked at political overlay with respect to how politics and oppression showed themselves in the art of indigenous people of Latin America. It might seem incongruous that of all places in Canada, an exhibition like “Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America” is on display in the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

I do not know how many members have been to the Museum of Anthropology at the UBC campus, but it is a spectacular place, overwhelmingly devoted to British Columbia culture and indigenous arts. There are a lot of original Bill Reid pieces, carved totems, and art from the Nuu-chah-nulth, Haida, and Saanich. There is a whole range of indigenous art from British Columbia. That is the place people can go to get a sense of the kind of art that is expressed from people who are marginalized and oppressed by colonialism within Latin America.

The connections between Canada and Latin American are not only those found in our shared colonial history, those who have moved to Canada who come from a colonial past. Many people who have come to Canada from Latin America also come from that indigenous tradition. Whether they are from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, or whichever Latin American country, they also often come with a connection to their indigenous traditional past, and that culture infuses so much richness into history throughout Latin American.

By the way, one of my constituents, Ronald Wright, is a bestselling author who has documented these connections well in his book Stolen Continents, through his review of indigenous culture in Time Among the Maya, and through a lot of reflection on indigenous culture in A Short History of Progress, although the latter mostly focuses on the foibles of hubris, western civilization, and greed.

I believe this controversial bill on Latin American heritage month will pass, and we will celebrate every October with great gusto across party lines. If nothing else, the bill brought parliamentarians together on a June night in 2018 for the second hour of a six hour debate. This debate allows us to say Latin American culture is alive and well in Canada, and we celebrate it.

Meegwetch. Gracias. Muito obrigado.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak this evening in support of my colleague from Thornhill, who is proposing that Bill S-218 , an act respecting Latin American heritage month be read the second time and referred to a committee.

The people in his riding can be proud of the work he has accomplished here in Ottawa for them and for all Canadians. I too support this bill, which seeks to recognize the tremendous contribution that Canada's Latin American community has made to our country.

This bill was drafted by our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga whose work with ParlAmericas moved him to propose the bill before the House today.

Latin America is part of our hemisphere. The region is generally understood to consist of the entire continent of South America, all of Central America, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean, whose peoples speak a Romance language or have a Romance language among their various national official languages.

For the purposes of this bill, Senator Enverga envisaged the widest possible interpretation so that Bill S-218 would cover those who identify as Spanish and Portuguese speakers from South America and Central America, as well as those whose heritage is of 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 and beautiful country. In the absence of exact census numbers covering that broad and somewhat imprecise measure, we might estimate a probable demographic well above half a million men, women, and children.

What we do know 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%. Again, in terms of actual numbers, demographers can only estimate that between 600,000 and perhaps 1.2 million Latin Americans, again from the broadest possible measure, live among us.

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. Their motivation, sadly 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 regime.

These Latin Americans represented a significant loss to the countries that they left, but they have been a boon to Canada. Their education, their skills, and their adaptability have been of great benefit to Canada's labour market, to our economy, and to our culture.

The top three South American countries with the highest populations living in Canada, according to census statistics, are Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador. The three countries from South America with the smallest populations now living in Canada are Puerto Rico, Panama, and Costa Rica. Most Canadians of Latin American origin live in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, or Alberta, with almost half making their homes in Ontario.

Canada's Latin American population is young. Statistics Canada tells us that almost 50% of those with Latin American origins living in Canada are under the age of 25. 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. Also, Statistics Canada 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 sharp contrast to the United States, the demographic is not measured or appreciated nearly as much as are their counterparts in the U.S.

Bill S-218 stands not only to deepen our appreciation and celebration of our Latin American community, but also to more precisely measure the actual numbers and its regional contributions to our economy and culture.

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

Senator Enverga's bill, Bill S-218, would designate the month of October each and every year as Latin American heritage month.

I will explain the logic of this designation. October is a very significant month across Latin America. It is the month that marks the end of the annual season of independence celebrations from Mexico to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. October 12 marks the day of the cultures in Costa Rica, the day of indigenous resistance in Venezuela, the day of respect for cultural diversity in Argentina, the day of the Americas in Uruguay, and children's day in Brazil.

Puerto Rico and Chile also wrap up their independence celebrations just before October, and in many other countries, such as Mexico, end October with a three-day celebration of the Day of the Dead, when people honour their ancestors.

Of course, we must not forget the Hispanic influences in Senator Enverga's own country of origin. Canada's large and vibrant Filipino community, although fiercely proud of the independence won from Spain, which we celebrate every year in my riding of Thornhill, still observes All Saints' Day, the day of the dead, and many other cultural legacies of colonial days maintained among their newer national traditions.

To anyone wondering what a heritage month is, why we have them, or why we need them, I would say that they are meaningful moments for acknowledging and honouring the contributions of Canada's various cultural communities. People should also know that creating heritage months does not cost the government a penny. It is not a month off work or anything like that. Heritage months give us a chance to stop and take the time to acknowledge and honour the contributions of various groups. They also provide a unique opportunity for cultural sharing. Naturally, members of the community whose culture is being celebrated are aware of their culture and heritage year-round.

However, when we have a designated heritage month, that is a point in time for everybody else to pay particular attention to or recognize it, or maybe be reminded that this is an opportunity to learn about and from the particular aspects of a culture.

It is not as practical to say that we should just be aware of all cultures at all times, although in a lot of ways we should. Having these specific points of noting and reminding ourselves is worthwhile as part of that process of ongoing cultural sharing and education.

These heritage months also provide us with an opportunity to note and listen to the experiences of Canadians from diverse backgrounds. In particular, we know Canadians from visible minority backgrounds may experience prejudice others do not, and using these times as an opportunity to reflect on that, be sensitive to that, and learn about the experiences of others is very valuable.

There was an article in The Economist recently about Italian speakers in Brazil. I did not know this, but certain dialects in Brazil have a close relationship to forms of Italian, German, and of course, many different indigenous languages. That diversity is certainly reflected in the Canadian experience as well. We are enriched by the contributions of the wide diversity of peoples who come here from different backgrounds.

Other colleagues have mentioned the importance of October in terms of a number of different holidays and celebrations that have their roots in the various cultural backgrounds from that part of the world.

In conclusion, I want to thank Senator Enverga, as well as the bill's sponsor in this place, for bringing this important bill to our attention.

These heritage months are an opportunity for us to recognize the contributions of Canadians from diverse backgrounds. I commend this bill to the consideration of members of the House. I hope everyone will support it.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 7:15 p.m.
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NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to discuss Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. This is an opportunity for me to point out the work and presence of a vibrant community in my riding, whether in Saint-Hyacinthe or Acton Vale.

As we know, members of the Latin American community in Canada have made an invaluable contribution to our social, economic, and political fabric. The objective of the bill is to designate the month of October of every year as Latin American heritage month. I am proud to support this bill.

I would like to acknowledge in the House important members of and organizations in the Saint-Hyacinthe region who do valuable work in my riding with the Latin American community. Some of them come from this very community.

It is an honour for me to rise to talk about the great work done by the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains. For 25 years now, this organization has been helping to integrate and settle newcomers to the Saint-Hyacinthe area and give them the support they need to adapt to and manage their new lives.

The Maison de la famille des Maskoutains helps all families, accommodates them and provides family members with support, reference, and prevention services. The mission of this organization, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in February, is to help newcomers integrate into Saint-Hyacinthe and help them adjust to their new life.

The Maison de la famille des Maskoutains seeks to anticipate and remove obstacles that every newcomer might face and help them regain their autonomy as they get their bearings. To that end, it has 51 interpreters on staff and provides interpretation services in 17 languages. Last year, the centre responded to requests from a hundred or so newly arrived families, either for appointments or home visits. The Maison de la famille des Maskoutains is very present in community, education, and early childhood settings, and it organizes events all year long to address themes from different categories of immigration to culture shock. I thank the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains for its good work.

I also want to acknowledge the amazing work being done by the team at the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains, some of whom are members of the Latin American community. I will start with Lizette Flores, the executive director, who took over from Carlos Martinez in December 2016. Like me, Ms. Flores has a master's degree in public administration from the École nationale d'administration publique. She also has management experience in the non-profit sector and does terrific work for this organization.

Then there is Jubilee Larraguibel, an immigrant services coordinator, who founded the organization Solidarité éthnique régionale de la Yamaska in Granby in 1996. She has been a compassionate and dedicated employee of the Maison de la famille des Maskoutains for 19 years.

Alvaro Sierra is a settlement worker. His job is to facilitate the settlement experience for young immigrants as soon as they arrive. He meets with families before they enrol their kids in school and guides them through the process. Then he follows up with the child, the parents, and the school to make the settlement process as smooth as possible.

Kawthar Ouazzani and Carmen Cecilia Calderon are settlement workers too. They both work closely with families and newcomers. Carmen Elena Serna is an early childhood educator and facilitator, and Luz Dary Marin Morales is an early childhood education assistant. They are both with the children and youth program. They bring a compassionate approach to meeting the needs of the young and old. I thank them for their amazing work.

It is also my honour to talk about Forum-2020, a non-profit that helps people looking to settle in and around Saint-Hyacinthe. Forum-2020's mission is to attract fresh blood to the RCM of Les Maskoutains through immigration. The organization breaks down barriers to immigrant integration and helps immigrants integrate by encouraging civic engagement in institutions and organizations. It works toward aligning immigration with the region's needs in a way that honours everyone's values.

For the past 10 years, Forum-2020, whose management team includes members of the Latin American community such as executive director Ana Luisa Iturriaga and immigration development and communications officer Claudia Mansilla, has been dedicated to promoting cultural diversity in Saint-Hyacinthe. The organization hosts cultural events on Saturdays in the summer. I am always delighted to attend these activities, which showcase cultures from a dozen different countries and give residents and newcomers an opportunity to connect.

To sum up, Forum-2020's goal is to attract, mobilize, and integrate families from around the world and help them flourish in our community. I thank the team at Forum-2020 for their hard work and wish them a happy 10th anniversary.

Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale are vibrant communities, in part because of the contributions of their cultural communities. I want to highlight the extraordinary work that the Société de développement du centre-ville de Saint-Hyacinthe, or SDC, as it is known, does in collaboration with Forum-2020. SDC has been running cultural events on Saturdays since 2015, where new residents from diverse backgrounds can share their values and traditions with the Saint-Hyacinthe community. I want to thank Simon Cusson and Chantal Lefebvre for the incredible work they do to keep our downtown abuzz with cultural exchanges.

Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale have a vibrant, well-established Latin American community. I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of businesses that employ members of this wonderful community. I am thinking of Gloria Jaimes, a project management engineer who manages manufacturing supervisors at Beaulieu Canada, a company in my riding that is on the cutting edge of flooring trends and is constantly coming up with innovative products to meet the market's needs.

I am also thinking of Odilso Rocha Rodriguez, a volunteer who is very dedicated to our community; Martha Rincon, an active and enthusiastic volunteer; and Nilda Benito, a tireless volunteer and entrepreneur who created PachaMama Canada, an eco-friendly company that works directly with Peruvian artisans to sell high-quality, fair trade alpaca products. I am also thinking of Jesus Sauce, who works at Penske; Celso Kossaka, Davi Almeida, and Sallira Sanchez from Denis Cimaf; and Carlos Chacon from the Tienda la Fé grocery store in Saint-Hyacinthe.

I am thinking of Lorena Meneses, an outstanding young entrepreneur who is the head of Mareiwa Café Colombien, a successful business that imports, roasts, and distributes high-quality Colombian coffee; John Sanchez, who works for the diocese and welcomes immigrants with open arms; Erick Gonzalez, a sales support manager at Caisse Desjardins de la région de Saint-Hyacinthe; and Angelika Gill, the executive director of Le Phare, which supports the loved ones of people with mental health issues by offering resources tailored to their needs.

I am thinking of Lucie Kablan, a field crop researcher at the Coop fédérée and author of a study on crop production that was published in the American Society of Agronomy's prestigious Agronomy Journal; Nestor Arrieta Bernal from Techno System, which produces heat exchangers; and many others who enrich our beautiful riding with their expertise, professionalism, and passion.

In closing, I would like to take a moment to invite new residents of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale to a celebration that I am hosting on Sunday, July 1, at 1 p.m. at Jean-Claude-Patenaude Park at Loisirs Bourg-Joli, which is located at 2520 Sainte-Catherine Street in Saint-Hyacinthe. I will be very pleased to have the privilege of welcoming them to the community, and I hope to have the opportunity to talk with them on July 1. Once again, I am proud to support this bill, and I thank the Latin American community for its exceptional contribution to our community and our country.

I look forward to celebrating Latin American heritage month with them.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

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

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

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

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

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

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

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

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8 p.m.
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Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But wait, there is more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary Forest Lawn, AB

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

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

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

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

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

The preamble of Bill S-218 states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

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

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

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

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 9:25 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Conservative

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

Conservative

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.
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Conservative

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.
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Conservative

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

Conservative

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

Conservative

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]

[English]

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

Conservative

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

Conservative

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.
See context

Conservative

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

Conservative

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.
See context

Conservative

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

Conservative

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.
See context

Liberal

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.
See context

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

moved:

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—

Motion in AmendmentLatin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I note that this bill mentions the diversity of Latin American communities in Quebec and Canada, since Latin Americans come from various countries and states, and the important contributions they have made to the broader communities around them, to community spirit, to the economy of our cities and towns, and to the social fabric of our country. The presence of communities with which Quebeckers share a certain affinity, similar values and culture, and where there is mutual recognition, contributes a great deal to our communities, and that is what I want to acknowledge about this bill.

Quebec's intercultural project is based on this ability to live together and work together to build a community. This involves recognizing our shared values and the contributions of every individual, which are shaped by his or her personal experience and cultural background.

It is also the reason why this bill proposes that Quebeckers and Canadians learn more about the contributions of Latin American Canadians, to provide an opportunity to remember and recognize them. That is what designating a Latin American heritage month would do. It would allow us to learn about the achievements of Latin American Canadians in communities throughout Quebec, particularly in our own neighbourhoods, like Longueuil and Saint-Hubert, where I live. The same holds true in communities across Canada that have been enriched by the contributions of people from many different backgrounds.

There is a reason why October has been proposed for Latin American heritage month. As mentioned in the bill, October is an important month for Latin Americans. Fall is a time when many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile, celebrate their independence.

Many of these countries were among the first former colonies to declare independence in the 19th century, and some became models of republican harmony. They projected the idea that racial segregation could be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with colonial institutions and economic exploitation.

There are other reasons why this bill proposes making October a month for celebrating Latin American communities. October was chosen because of certain traditions and customs. We know that it is a significant month in Latin America and South America, since it is the month when Costa Rica celebrates the Day of Cultures, Venezuela observes the Day of Indigenous Resistance, Argentina marks the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, Brazil has its Children's Day, and various Latin American cultures celebrate the Day of the Dead.

We feel that dedicating the 10th month of the year to our Latin American communities would give members of those communities an opportunity to share these cultural traditions with their neighbours. The bill also notes that this event would bring people together and give them a chance to share and celebrate this rich cultural heritage.

A little while ago, L'Actualité published a profile of Quebec's Latin American community that highlighted the strong kinship between Quebeckers and the tens of thousands of members of that community, who often refer to themselves as Latino-Quebeckers. According to the article, 90% of Latino immigrants choose to learn French when they settle in Quebec. The community has a political presence in Quebec too, with people like former minister Joseph Facal and the member for Honoré-Mercier, who is originally from Argentina.

Our cities bear witness to the political history of these peoples. The statue of Simón Bolívar located five minutes from here, just off Rideau Street, was a gift to Canada from Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. We also have Salvador Allende Street in Laval, a tribute to the former Chilean president who was assassinated in a coup d'état. Let us not forget Quebec City's Parc de l'Amérique-Latine at the mouth of the Saint-Charles River, which pays tribute to great figures in Latin American History, such as poet, writer, and Cuban national independence hero José Martí, Haitian independence hero Toussaint Louverture, and military leader Bernardo O'Higgins, a hero who fought for Chilean independence.

However, those who have left the most indelible mark on Quebec are the men and women who made a life here. Thousands of people from various Latin and South American countries now live in Quebec City, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, and the area I am from, Longueuil and Saint-Hubert.

At the Nouvelle Vie church in Longueuil, there are Venezuelan, Peruvian, Cuban, and Quebec musicians. The Sacré-Coeur-de-Jésus church on Brodeur Street hosts colourful family celebrations.

Since I was elected in 2011, one of the encounters that stood out for me was the one with Marco Carpinteyro, who has worked with the Table Itinérance Rive-Sud for many years and who, to me, is one of the greatest examples of community involvement. Although Marco does a lot of work in the community, and everyone back home in Longueuil agrees, I am sure that if you asked him what he is most proud of, he would say his children. He teaches them about his heritage every day, since the most beautiful language of all is the one spoken by our children.

It is in our best interests to actively create stronger relationships with Latin American countries, to build cultural bridges, and to share our ambitions with trade blocs like Mercosur. The Latin American communities established here, in Quebec and Canada, can help facilitate these joint projects. These communities and their heritage also make unique contributions to our culture and to the spirit of community in Quebec.

I am very proud to highlight these contributions today and to support this proposal to designate a Latin American heritage month that we can celebrate in all of our communities every year.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a delight to speak in the House tonight about Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month.

I want to honour the memory of the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga, who first brought the bill forward in the Senate. The senator passed away recently, which was a real shock to everyone. He was loved by all, and he was considerate of all.

It is important to note that the reason Senator Enverga brought the bill forward was that he noticed that there were other heritage days. There was German heritage day, Italian heritage day, and Asian heritage day. There is nothing wrong with that, but he felt it was important, with 500,000 Latin American Canadians living in Canada and contributing richly to our society, that we honour them as well with a special heritage month.

There are those who get tired of the different days, weeks, and months we have. They feel that perhaps they all become less special when there are so many of them. However, I think that is because we, as parliamentarians, are more aware of them. We come every day to the House and there are ribbons to wear for a certain occasion, or a flower of some sort, or some little thing. We are aware of all the days we celebrate different events, but not everyone is aware of them. The Latin American community in Canada, and people who enjoy the Latin American community, will be very happy to share in this month.

I thought I would give the House a bit of exposure to Latin American culture through my eyes as I have travelled around the world. My first experience with Latin American culture was in Colombia. I decided, when I was 25, that I was going to take a trip and experience the world. I went to a small village in Colombia. I loved the people immediately. I was at a resort. I was taught to dance. The Latin American people are well known for their excellent dancing. Their dance moves are incredibly stylish, and the men just seem to know how to dance. In fact, it is alleged that the government whip is an incredibly good dancer. I have not seen it myself, but I would not be surprised, because the Latin American people are great dancers.

Because I learned to dance, when I returned, I would go to Toronto to a salsa club there, and the Latin American crowd would be there. It was such a festive environment.

That was my first exposure.

One of the others things I loved was the food I experienced. When I travelled globally for Dow Chemical, I went to Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and all over the place, and I really experienced different cuisine. I also spent quite a bit of time in Mexico. I absolutely love Mexican food.

Some of the rich experiences I had were with the way they put on their meals. The people in Brazil have a tradition called churrascaria. It is a dinner where they bring a lot meat. The meat comes on long swords, and people are given paddles with a green side and a red side. If people want the meat to keep coming, they keep the green side up. When they want the meat to stop coming, they turn the red side up. It is amazing. There are different cuts. It is very enjoyable cuisine, and the experience was very special.

The cuisine in Mexico was mostly good, although I did have a couple of experiences with the local specialities of ant eggs and crickets, which I ate, but I would not include it in what I consider to be fine Latin American cuisine.

I also experienced the work ethic of the Latin American people, which is excellent. With Dow, I was in charge of quality globally. I had the opportunity to do an audit in Brazil. I have audited all over the world, and I have found things amiss or not correctly done. In Brazil, I was amazed. Everyone was doing their jobs, everyone was following procedures, and there were no defects to be found. I said, in surprise, to one of my Brazilian counterparts that everyone was doing everything they were supposed to do. He said, “Of course they are, because if they don't, they are fired.” The discipline, the work ethic, of the Latin American people is something to be admired. Their productivity should be as well.

From an employee satisfaction point of view, in every plant Dow had in a Latin American community they were the happiest people and the most productive people.

I have had involvement in a number of other countries and different experiences. I was involved in a mission trip to Nicaragua and was exposed to the people there, and even the ones who are living in a lot of poverty are so loving and hospitable. They have such a passion for life, family, and God. I really embrace those values. The people who have come to Sarnia—Lambton from a Latin American community have brought those values with them to the community. There are more Latin Americans living in Ontario and Quebec than in the rest of the country, so we are more fortunate. However, I know that people across Canada will be able to experience the culture of those people and the love they have for our country. They are fiercely loyal and patriotic, and having a month to celebrate them makes a lot of sense.

This bill picks October because of the celebrations that go on in different countries during that month. For example, there is Día de las Culturas, the day of the cultures, in Costa Rica; Día de la Resistencia Indígena, the day of indigenous resistance, in Venezuela; Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural, the day of respect for cultural diversity, in Argentina; Día de las Américas, the day of the Americas, in Uruguay; and, in Brazil, the feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida and Día das Crianças, children's day. Puerto Rico and Chile also wrap up their independence celebrations in October, and many countries, such as Mexico, end October with a three-day celebration called Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a celebration of their ancestors. That is why we are picking October for this month.

I am not exactly sure why the party to the left decided that it wanted to remove the short title. I think the short title, “Latin American Heritage Month” is fine. It describes exactly what it is.

I want to give some information about the different countries that make up the Latin American public, just in case people do not know. We talked about Mexico and Columbia already. El Salvador is on the list, as well as Peru, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Panama, and Puerto Rico. A lot of those countries I have not yet been to, so there are a lot of Latin American experiences I can have globally, and I still have years to do that.

Meanwhile, everybody should embrace the Latin Americans who have come to Canada. Everyone in the House should support this bill. We will have a lot of fun celebrating Latin American heritage month. I am sure the food will be good. I am sure the dancing will be good. I am not sure I will be dancing very well. There are YouTube videos out there that show me trying to do a tango to Madonna's Material Girl, but I will leave that for people to find.

We could honour the people by recognizing the contribution they have made in helping to build our country and our communities, and bringing that passion for love, life, family, and God to our country.

I am going to wrap up by saying again that I appreciate Senator Tobias Enverga's bringing this bill forward in the Senate. I appreciate the member for Thornhill being the sponsor here in the House and paying this the attention it deserves. I am pleased that this would join the many other heritage days we have, such as German Heritage Month, Asian Heritage Month, Italian Heritage Month, and all the other days, months, and weeks we celebrate in the House. It is something worth celebrating, and I will be very proud to enjoy all the cuisine, the dancing, and the passion on those days.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Madam Speaker, gracias and obrigado. I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. This bill recognizes the contributions of the Latin American community to Canada and seeks to establish the month of October as Latin American heritage month.

Canadians of Latin American origin have been foundational in communities across our country going back to the early 1970s. The government supports Bill S-218 as a meaningful way to reflect on and celebrate the significant contributions that Latin American Canadians have made, and continue to make, to the social, economic, and political fabric of this country. It also gives a unique opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate Latin American culture and its traditions.

Before going into further details about the important contributions of this community to Canadian society, let me begin by outlining the principles that support the fabric of Canada.

As was stated in the 2015 Speech from the Throne:

As a country, we are strengthened in many ways: by our shared experiences, by the diversity that inspires both Canada and the world, and by the way that we treat each other.

Given the strong and growing presence of individuals of Latin American ancestry, formal recognition of Latin American heritage month will provide us with a terrific opportunity to recognize the contribution of this community in celebration of our diversity and our inclusive society here in Canada.

It is important to note that the term "Latin American" can be used to refer to communities from the parts of the Americas where Spanish or Portuguese is the main language, and it refers to all people originating from the geographic area of Latin America. This includes Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities, as well as francophone communities and the indigenous peoples of the region.

The “Latin American” reference was the one preferred by the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who introduced Bill S-218 in the Senate in 2016. We thank him for that contribution to Canadian parliamentary business and for the legacy he is leaving with this bill. Senator Enverga explained that he consulted members of the communities and the public and gave consideration to taking on a more inclusive framing or terminology to the commemoration.

That is why the bill refers to “Latin America”, which includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as Puerto Rico, the French West Indies, and other islands.

As we all know, immigration has played, and will continue to play, a key role in the development of our country. Canada offers a way of life that attracts thousands of newcomers every year.

The first wave of Latin American immigrants arrived in Canada in the early 1970s, with the arrival of about 68,000 people.

I will digress for a moment to say that I personally had the privilege to work with dozens of persons of Latin American heritage as a young student in 1995, in my first year of law school at the University of Toronto. As a law student, I was working with an entity called the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples, on Bathurst Street, just south of Dupont in downtown Toronto. The CSSP was a small clinic, but it was vital for Latin Americans, primarily refugee applicants, who confronted challenges with navigating the legal system and our immigration laws. That experience was extremely formative for me in many ways, not just in terms of my development and training as a young lawyer, but also in terms of my knowledge, understanding, and exposure to Latino culture.

Canadians of Latin American heritage continue to make major contributions to Canadian society in ways that build a strong and prosperous nation. Noting this continued credit to Canada, let me say a few words about some prominent Canadians of Latin American heritage.

In terms of academics, Professor Alejandro Adem, a Latin American Canadian of Mexican descent, has made important contributions to the field of mathematics. Professor Adem has been a professor in the department of mathematics at the University of British Columbia since 2005 and holds a Canada Research Chair. He is currently the CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, Canada.

With respect to sport, Mauro Biello, born in Montreal and of Latin American heritage, was the head coach and director of player personnel for the Montreal Impact professional soccer team for eight years. Prior to joining the Impact’s coaching staff, Mr. Biello had a 19-year professional playing career, including 16 seasons in Montreal. In 389 career games played with the Montreal Impact, Mr. Biello scored 77 goals and 67 assists for 221 points during the regular season, playoffs and championship games.

I would note for the record that I have had the pleasure of personally observing the passion of the Latin American community for football in the city of Montreal, when I watched a match with a colleague, the member for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun. We watched the Toronto team, TFC, take on Montreal Impact two years ago during the elimination matches. Although, as the member for Parkdale—High Park, I was cheering for my local squad, I was extremely impressed with the engagement of the 60,000 people who filled the Big O in Montreal for that match. The passion they showed for those players, many of whom were Latin American, was palpable.

I could go on and on about the contributions of Latin Americans to the sport and to the beautiful game. One need only think of the Spaniards, their European championships in 2008 and 2012, and their victory in Mondial 2010. We think of Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese victory in 2016. There is Lionel Messi, from Argentina. As a specific fan of No. 10 for the Argentinian squad and for FC Barcelona, of course I need to recognize the significant contributions of Messi. The list of contributions of Latin Americans to athleticism, culture, and academics goes on and on.

Over the years, Latin American communities have brought their rich and vibrant culture to our country. Several Spanish-language newspapers, magazines, and newsletters are published in Canada, such as the Toronto-based El Popular. Theatre presentations, poetry recitals, and art exhibitions are common in larger communities, such as those across the city of Toronto, including Parkdale—High Park, where we have a strong and vibrant Latin American community. Indeed, dance and music groups are active throughout Canada and throughout our urban centres. Latin American writers, poets, painters, singers, chefs, and journalists have become well known in Canada.

I would be remiss not to mention the reference that was made to the chief government whip and the contributions of Latin American culture to the fine art of dance. I, too, appreciate the finer aspects of Latin American dance. It is with great pride that I declare that I, in fact, met my wife at a salsa class, so clearly Latin American culture brings people together. This August, we will have been married for 13 years.

Different groups, associations, and festivals promote and share Latin American culture in major Canadian cities, such as Toronto, which has been recognized as the most multicultural city on the planet. For example, Latin American-Canadian Art Projects is a Toronto-based not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to the implementation of arts projects, promoting Latin American art in Canada with an emphasis on artistic excellence.

The Confédération des associations latino-américaines de Québec, a not-for-profit organization, supports members of the Latin American community in the Québec City area and organizes various cultural activities. I could name many other examples in other parts of the country. Canada is recognized worldwide for its successful approach to multiculturalism. We are succeeding culturally, politically, and economically because of our diversity.

Let me reinforce the fact that Canada's multicultural heritage and identity are more than just a commitment to welcoming diverse people from around the world. It is a commitment to the principles of equality and freedom, grounded in human rights and enshrined in the Canadian Constitution and the Multiculturalism Act. That act's predecessor was the adoption of multiculturalism policy by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1971, a gesture whose statutory manifestation, the Multiculturalism Act, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. What better year to declare October Latin American heritage month in Canada to celebrate that community and its vast contributions in Canada toward diversity, which is truly our greatest strength.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

[Member spoke in Spanish]

[English]

Madam Speaker, this is yet another opportunity to talk about Latin American heritage month and Bill S-218. Let me acknowledge again the support this bill has received from all sides of the House since it arrived here from the Senate.

This legislation essentially recognizes the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, cultural, and political fabric made by Canada's dynamic Latin American community. As I have done on every occasion I have spoken to the bill, I would like to again remind colleagues and those watching on CPAC tonight that this legislation, carefully fashioned by our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga, will I am sure stand as a notable element of his political legacy.

In a moment I will speak of my admiration and unrestrained support for the bill, but first I would like to read just a couple of paragraphs from a speech delivered by Senator Enverga when he spoke at second reading in the other place.

He reminded his colleague that he came to Canada from the Philippines and that he was one of many people now in the Senate who were fortunate enough to be welcomed to Parliament, and to be able to contribute to society. Senator Tobias Enverga pointed out that, “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.” He said, “The Canadian policy of multiculturalism is a great success when it comes to allowing for, and celebrating, the various cultural backgrounds and languages we have”, and share.

The Senator referenced other heritage months that moved him to propose one for Canadians of Latin American descent. He talked about the importance of Black History Month, proclaimed in 1995, and about Asian Heritage Month. He anticipated Italian Heritage Month and Portuguese Heritage Month, both passed into law just last year, and this year we celebrated Jewish Heritage Month.

Before I get to the bill he created, the process and legislation before us today, I will provide a little background on this great Canadian.

Tobias “Jun” Enverga was respected by all for his kindness, warm sense of humour, and his unparalleled work ethic. He was a family man, self-described as surrounded by four lovely women, his daughters Reeza, Rocel, and Rystle, and his wife Rosemer. He was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. Tobias served as a Catholic School Board trustee in Toronto for years and became known in the Toronto region for launching the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation and its fantastic annual Pinoy festival and trade show, which, by the way, is next Saturday at the Toronto Convention Centre. Senator Enverga was also co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group, and inaugurated the annual Filipino independence day flag raising on Parliament Hill, which I am sure many members of the House will attend on Monday morning.

During his years at the Senate, Senator Enverga was a member of several standing committees. He participated in a variety of important studies on issues ranging from first nations northern housing to maritime search and rescue operations. Also, and this is very important to remember, Senator Enverga was an executive member of the ParlAmericas group. He invested his energy in forging closer ties with parliamentarians from across Latin America, helping them to strengthen democracy and governance in their countries through political dialogue and parliamentary co-operation. It was his work with ParlAmericas that moved him to propose the bill before us today.

As we know all too well, Senator Enverga passed away Thursday, November 16, while on parliamentary business in Colombia. Despite his tragic and untimely passing, Senator Enverga's Latin American heritage month bill lives on. It was passed in the other place a couple of weeks later and sent to us in the House.

Some of my colleagues in the House may remember that Senator Enverga introduced a bill in the 41st Parliament, Bill S-228, to create a Hispanic heritage month, matching such designations by the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto. However, that bill was lost on the Order Paper in the election of 2015.

Senator Enverga, after further consultation with members of the public, reconsidered the reintroduction of that legislation and decided instead to change the focus in this bill to “Latin American”, as a geographic and linguistic community, which adds not only the Lusophone and Francophone communities, but also those of the indigenous peoples of the Latin American region. This was not a snap decision. Senator Enverga pondered long and deeply the issues of self-identification of the diverse Latin American community in Canada. He became convinced that a Latin American heritage month would better enhance our understanding of the complexities involved and believed this act would better respect the spirit of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988.

Latin America is of our hemisphere. The region is generally understood to consist of the entire continent of South America, all of Central America, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean whose peoples speak a Romance language or have a Romance language among their various official languages.

For the purposes of this bill, Senator Enverga envisioned the widest possible interpretation so Bill S-218 would cover those who identified as Spanish and Portuguese speakers from South America and Central America, as well as those whose heritage was of the Francophone and Hispanic Caribbean Islands.

Using that broad and 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 I think members would agree somewhat imprecise measure, we might estimate a possible demographic well above half a million men, women and children.

What we do know 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, for example, the number of individuals reporting Latin American origins rose by 32%, at a time when the overall Canadian population grew by only 4%.

With respect to actual numbers, the demographers can only estimate that between 600,000 and 1.2 million Latin Americans, again from the broadest possible measure, live among us. These numbers are particularly interesting, given there was only a small Latin American population in Canada before the 1960s. It was in the sixties and seventies that we recorded the first significant migration of Latin Americans to Canada. Unfortunately, in too many cases, their motivation was to escape social and economic turmoil, dictatorships, conflict, and most recently another wave, fleeing Venezuela's corrupt and repressive regimes under, first, Hugo Chavez, and now the brutal Nicolas Maduro. These Latin Americans represented significant loss to the countries they left, but they have been a boon to Canada.

I could speak to the virtues of supporting Bill S-218, a bill to bring Latin American Heritage Month to Canada, but I must stop there. I move:

That, when the order for consideration of Bill S-218, an Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month is next called, the time provided for the consideration of any remaining stage of the bill be extended, pursuant to Standing Order 98(3), by a period not exceeding five consecutive hours.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak about the legislation before us, for two reasons. One of the strong messages that our Prime Minister sends to all regions of our country is how proud we are of Canada's diversity and all the benefits that are derived from it. No matter where we go in Canada, we see a great number of people with such diversity and appreciation for what we are as a nation. We are a multicultural nation with a great sense of pride in our diversity.

Before I comment on the legislation, I want to speak about Senator Enverga. I knew Senator Enverga in my capacity as a co-chair. He and I were co-chairs of the Philippines-Canada Friendship Group, and we were able to accomplish a great deal. In fact, shortly after the friendship group was formed, Senator Enverga was appointed to the Senate. Shortly after being appointed to the Senate, he and I had the opportunity to meet and talk about the Philippines. He had values that many of us share, a passion and love for the Philippines and the desire for a healthier relationship between Canada and the Philippines.

My friend across the way referred to another issue that Senator Enverga was behind, and that was the flag-raising ceremony. In fact, this Monday, at 11 o'clock on the steps of Parliament, there will be a flag-raising ceremony, and I suspect there will be a few tributes to Senator Enverga.

As the current chair of the Philippines-Canada Friendship Group, I would be wrong not to mention that we will see all members of the House, members of the Filipino community, and others participating in that activity. Then at one o'clock in the Commonwealth Room, special guests will be talking about the importance of the very special and unique relationship between Canada and the Philippines. I invite all members to participate.

That said, we are having a wonderful debate on a very important community, and no one more is more engaged than the government whip, who is full of passion for anything Latino. The government whip is a very proud individual and has worn the Philippines' colours on his shoulders on many different occasions. Others in the chamber have also made reference to the Latino factor that the government whip carries with him wherever he goes.

I will now get back to diversity. As the Prime Minister has often said, diversity is one of Canada's greatest strengths, and we need to celebrate that. Recognizing Latin America heritage month in the month of October would do all sorts of wonderful things. It would provide members in the House, members in the other place, and anyone who has an interest in promoting the contributions of Latin America and the countries that make up Latin America with the opportunity to share that wealth of culture, whether it is festivities, clothing, foods, their hard-working attitude, or the many contributions made by our Latin American community. It is a community that continues to grow in great numbers in Canada today, and I believe that community will continue to grow.

Focusing on Winnipeg, I am a big advocate of Folklorama, a two-week celebration of Canada's diversity. There will be performances in a number of pavilions. It is worth noting that it is not easy for these pavilions, because they are open seven days a week and run by volunteers. There will be all sorts of cultural displays, dances, food, and an overall super-fantastic time. One gets to explore the world by participating in Folklorama.

I did a quick guided tour of the Folklorama website while I was listening to my colleagues across the way. Members will be very happy to hear that there are four easily identifiable pavilions, and I will share some of the comments.

For example, the website shows the Brazilian Pavilion, and says:

Come out and see our high energy show! Live music coupled with live entertainment will take you on a tour of Brasil. Relax in air-conditioned comfort as you sample the tasty cuisine and cultural beverages of Brasil. Cachaça cocktails and Brazilian beer will have you feeling like you are a heartbeat away from the amazing Brazilian beaches, while our nonalcoholic drinks will refresh your taste buds. The fun never stops and you can enjoy yourself late into the night during our Friday late night party! For Saturday, there might not be a late night party, but don't worry we will be holding a late night show!

However, this is not the only Latin American pavilion. We have two solid weeks. In the first week, we will have two pavilions from Latin America, and the following week two demonstrations on Latin America. For example, the website shows the Chilean Pavilion, and says:

Head into the warm embrace of the Chilean people as you experience food, drink, and dances from the various regions of Chile, including the north-central, south and Easter Island...Enjoy the lively Latin stylings of our own “QUIDEL” dance group, as well as long-time performers, Chile Lucha y Canta. Be sure to try a Chilean favourite–borgoña, a drink made with cold red wine and strawberries. Then dance the night away at our late night parties on Friday and Saturday, complete with live music from local band Descarga Latina!

Folklorama is a celebration that takes place every year in Winnipeg, and will get 200,000 visits. It encompasses a large number of volunteers. This is why I think it is important that we have these heritage months. People should be proud of their heritage and their homeland countries. When we see the celebrations of people from countries all over the world, we are the better for it.

I mentioned two of the four pavilions. However, the hours dedicated to this are not just to put together a pavilion during Folklorama, but also for other activities virtually year round. We have young people engaged in their culture and the heritage of their homeland and are sharing it with others year round. This is why, when I think of having a Latin America heritage month, it is more than just an opportunity for MPs and senators to go out and promote, but, more importantly, it is for all individuals to have an opportunity to explore all the things they can do in the month of October.

For example, if one is a school teacher in a junior high or high school, it provides an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Latin America. October would be the month recognized by Parliament as Latin American heritage month, and teachers could take advantage of it by organizing a lunch program or after-school program and invite community members out. It is a wonderful thing that can really promote what makes Canada great.

This is our diversity, and we need to be proud of our heritage. Our Canadian heritage is made up of people from countries around the world. I, for one, am a very proud Canadian.

Latin American Heritage Month Act

June 6th, 2018 / 7 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to rise today in support of this bill.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

[English]

It is great to be here tonight. I am certainly very much a lover of Latin America, having spent much time there and really having grown to love not only the region but the Latin American people as well. It is a rich culture that I enjoy very much.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel with my family to different countries in Latin America when I was growing up. However, how I really got to know Latin America as a diplomat in the Canadian foreign service. I was very fortunate to have postings across Latin America. I had a posting in Buenos Aires, a very beautiful city in Argentina. It is truly like the Paris of the south. During that time I had a lovely apartment in a region called Recoleta. I had a lovely opportunity to take tango lessons and to view the beautiful museums there. I should add that I am a fan of Evita Perón, so it was very good to get to know one of my political idols during that period of time as well.

I went on to become the chargé d'affaires in El Salvador, in San Salvador, for two years. What a beautiful nation it is, in terms of the volcanoes, the beaches, the ruins. I very much got to know and love the people, despite the many challenges there: the gang violence, the drug trafficking. These are very challenging things, but I felt very proud of the work I was doing as a Canadian diplomat to combat these things. I sat through many earthquakes, measuring four or six on the Richter scale. It is very uncomfortable and unnerving, but something that we became accustomed to living in Latin America.

I was also very fortunate to serve for one year as a policy adviser to the member for Thornhill, who of course is a major part of this bill here today. We had an incredible experience as a team working with Canadians in relation to Latin America. We have some very fond memories together. I remember in 2009 going to Honduras in an effort to negotiate the end of a coup with the Organization of American States at the time. I remember flying there and being whisked through what was a very high-security environment at the time. We really were in lockdown as we worked on behalf of Canada, but also for the Latin American people, to try to help them go down the path of democracy. That is something I have always welcomed, with the previous Harper government. I follow Jason Kenney in my riding, but certainly there were others. There were John Baird and Prime Minister Harper himself, who were very big supporters of democracy in the Americas. I was very pleased to serve under the former minister of state for the Americas in this capacity. It truly was an honour and a privilege.

I have always enjoyed the warmth of the Latin American people. They are incredibly chaleureux. They will always welcome people into their home, be it with a pupusa in El Salvador or a wonderful steak and a nice malbec in Argentina. They are very warm people, and yet I also appreciate the formality in Latin America. Latin America is a place where history and culture are very important, and institutions that are very important for Conservatives such as the family, the church, and these things. I have always felt a very strong affinity for this region and its people.

Of course, I am very sad to say that there are certainly some challenges faced in the Americas. They are no stranger to oppressive regimes, having lived under several dictators. I think, for example, of Pinochet in Chile who was in power for years. As well, in El Salvador, where I served, they struggled with civil war. I was very fortunate to be there in 2007, celebrating the 15-year end of the El Salvadoran civil war. That was something very special during my time there. I am very fortunate to have had these incredible experiences.

Unfortunately, we are still seeing lingering problems with democracy in Latin America to this day. I remember, during my time in the minister of state of the Americas office, monitoring ALBA and the Bolivarians.

Very recently we have seen the terrible happenings in Venezuela with the oppressive regime there, and the elections, which of course are not at all valid by our democratic standards. They certainly causes concern for us as Canadians. More recently, Nicaragua is getting to a point that is very concerning, which I hope the government will speak out on, as they have with Venezuela.

That is a big part of what this bill is about, supporting the ideas of democracy, justice, free markets, all of these principles that we, in the Harper government, supported so very strongly and will continue to support and promote, not only in Latin America but around the world as well.

I do have some concerns about the historic actions of the government, in particular the words of condolence by the Prime Minister at the death of Castro, which to me, unfortunately, seems to speak of support for a communist regime. I know that as a Conservative government, we were always in absolute support of the dissidents.

As a policy adviser, I continually looked for ways for us to be a mediator. Indeed, 2008 to 2009 was a very exciting time to work with the minister of state for the Americas because it was during the Obama era and we were looking at the Helms-Burton Act being re-opened and at both missions being re-evaluated. We were looking at visitation rights for Latin American people in America being revisited too.

The relationship between Canada and the Americas always been very dear to me. I will say again that the principles that Conservatives stand for as the official opposition are democracy, justice, the rule of law, and free markets. We will continue to support these things in Latin America. We would encourage the government to do the same, as well.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize all the wonderful new Canadians that Latin America has given to us. I am very fortunate to have many of them, both in my riding of Calgary Midnapore, as well as the city of Calgary. These new Canadians from Latin America have been a major force in the oil and gas sector. Latin America really has given us some of their best and brightest, in terms of engineers, geophysicists, and these types. I have a statistic here that as of 2016, Latin Americans in Canada numbered close to half a million, or some 447,000.

In conclusion, I would just like to say that I love Latin America, I love Canada, and I see no reason why we should not all support a Latin American heritage month.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

[Member spoke in Spanish]

[English]

Mr. Speaker, I certainly have a very strong tie to Latin America, in fact many strong ties to Latin America. That is why I am here to speak in support of Latin American heritage month. I think this is something very important for Canadians, and certainly for Canadians of Latin American descent.

My ties are many. They go back, first of all, to much leisure time spent exploring Latin America with my family. We find that it has a very rich culture. We enjoy the food, the geography, the beaches, the ruins, the churches, and the climate. It is a wonderful place to go, a wonderful place to visit.

There is Mexico, for example, but in addition, other places where I have had the opportunity to serve as a diplomat for Canada. First of all was Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is just a gorgeous country, a gorgeous place. I was very fortunate to reside in a lovely community called Recoleta. It was wonderful to spend time there learning the culture and its rich history in terms of culinary experience, fashion, and the many good things it has to offer.

I also had the very good fortune to serve as the chargé d'affaires for the Government of Canada in El Salvador for two years. That was an incredible experience, an incredible opportunity. I really came to love the Salvadoran people, and pupusas as well, a delicious treat. It was a wonderful time for me and is another reason I very much love Latin America.

I had the honour and privilege to work for the sponsor of this bill, my colleague, the former minister, and still member of Parliament for Thornhill, while serving as his policy adviser when he served as the minister of state for foreign affairs. I remember very fondly our good times in Latin America. I remember going to Honduras to negotiate, after the coup, with the Organization of American States and the special times we shared together in Latin America. That is another reason I am very proud to speak to this bill and to encourage my colleagues to support this bill.

As I mentioned, I have a history of diplomacy in Latin America. Latin America is very much known for the warmth of its people. I am very pleased, every time I go to Latin American countries, to have the opportunity to meet more people from the region. I developed some very close friendships, in my time in the diplomatic corps, with many Latin Americans, relationships I continue to this day.

I actually very much appreciate the formality of diplomacy in Latin America. This is a place that honours tradition, respects roles, and respects a history of tradition and diplomacy in the region. A fond memory I have is when I received my accreditation in El Salvador as the chargé d'affaires. I remember being whisked through the streets of San Salvador in a motorcade. It was just incredible. I remember ascending the steps of the presidential palace. The president and the first lady were there to greet me with such warmth and such hospitality as the new chargé d'affaires with the ambassador at the time.

Latin America really has a special place in my heart. I always joke that part of me is Latina. I very much love and cherish this region.

Unfortunately, I will say that Latin America is not without its historic challenges, and there are many of them. We certainly know that the decades of the 20th century were filled with oppression by a number of dictators. For example, I think of Pinochet in Chile and the oppressive regime of that time. In Argentina, I cannot help but think of Videla and the oppressive regime created during that time.

There were definitely some challenges within this region. In addition to dictators, I could also mention the oligarchy, which has ruled its people through time.

In addition to these oppressive regimes, there have been the unfortunate circumstances of terrible civil war within Latin America. I think, for example, of Colombia and the FARC, and the disarray this created within that country, the drugs and murders as a result of this civil war, the instability and, the poverty that these situations brought to a nation, which is very tragic for its people.

I cannot help but mention the civil war in El Salvador that lasted for so many years with the FMLN, which, interestingly enough, went on to govern. When I was there, it was the time of ARENA, which was more right wing, so I was favourable to that. I was very proud to be there for the celebration in El Salvador of the 15-year end of the civil war. This was very monumental and it was very special for me.

If there was something good to come of these unfortunate circumstances, it was that these Latin Americans, in these hard times of oppression and civil war, looked for somewhere else to go, and one of those places was Canada. We were very proud, as a country and as Canadians, to welcome American Latinos with open arms, and we continue to do this.

I cannot describe the respect and love that many Latin Americans have for Canada. When I was the chargée des affaires in El Savador, I could not get my nails done without someone asking me about a visa in an effort to come to Canada. The people loved Canada so much and they wanted to visit or be part of the country. It is very special.

What a gift these people have been to Canada. My own riding of Calgary Midnapore has welcomed so many engineers, geologists, people who have contributed to our rich natural resources sector. I believe at last count in 2016, almost 500,000 people considered themselves to be of Latin American origin residing in Canada. For me, it is very special to honour these people, their heritage, and all that they bring to Canada in having searched for a better life.

It is with sadness that the effects of these oppressive dictatorships and the civil war have lasted. Throughout the time I was in my colleague's office as a policy adviser, we were still watching ALBA. We were looking for the Bolivarian influences. Since then, there was something much worse and more difficult, and that was the historic Cuban regime, the Castro regime, as well as Venezuela, which continues to be a place of struggle at this time. Not only is it enough that these regimes exist present day in Latin America, but it is with regret that the government across the aisle continues to support these regimes.

In fact, I can only describe the strong words spoken by the Prime Minister at the funeral of Fidel Castro as shameful and very disrespectful to the people who chose to come to Canada and make it their home. In addition, I would encourage the government to continue to stand up for Venezuela and Venezuelans who are suffering as conditions continue to deteriorate.

I am proud to be part of a Conservative Party that has always stood for democracy, justice, and prosperity, and under Prime Minister Harper had an appreciation for the Americas. I am proud to be part of the legacy of Jason Kenney and former foreign affairs minister John Baird. For all these reasons, supporting this bill will show support for democracy, prosperity, and justice across Latin America. It will show Canadians of Latin American origin how much we support them. That is why I ask all members of the House to support the bill to have a month of recognition for American Latinos.

[Member spoke in Spanish]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy and proud to speak today to Bill S-218, introduced by the late Senator Tobias Enverga, who left us much too soon. I also want to talk about his vision for this bill and his desire to acknowledge and highlight the historic contribution that the Latin American community has made to Canada. I am part of this community, since I was born in Argentina. I am Argentinian, Canadian, and Latin American.

I came to Canada with my family many years ago, when I had a bit less grey hair. My father was a lawyer for political prisoners, and he then ran for governor in one of the provinces. During this period, he was imprisoned and tortured many times. Shortly before his exile and our departure from Argentina, two bombs were placed in our home while my two parents, my young sisters, and I slept. We were all injured in the attack. It became very clear at that point that leaving was our only way to survive, and that is what we did.

We arrived in Canada just before the winter. We came from northern Argentina, where it was 45 to 50 degrees in the summer. We came here in late fall, and not long after, there was a snowstorm. It was the first of the year, and it was quite a shock. I did what all immigrants have done or should do: I adapted. I traded my soccer cleats for skates and a hockey stick, and I learned to speak French.

This is a roundabout way of saying that there are thousands of Latin Americans who experienced the same thing during that time and who came to live here in Canada. Those Latin Americans who came here from all over, for political or other reasons, contributed to shaping Canada as we know it. In a way, they added some spice.

How many Canadians learn Spanish today? How many people have danced to Latin music? Who does not know Shakira and Carlos Santana? Who has not danced to Despacito? I am sure that my colleague has danced to Despacito. How many Canadians ate at a Mexican, Salvadoran, or Honduran restaurant this week? That is what Latin America is about and more. When we celebrate Latin American heritage month, that is more or less what we celebrate together.

I mentioned Carlos Santana, Shakira, and Despacito, but I also could have talked about mariachi music, the tango that is danced in the street in Buenos Aires, or the rhythms of La Compagnie Créole, which we know and love back home in Montreal and throughout Quebec.

It is impossible to talk about Latin America without talking about literature. How many Canadians have read the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, or Love in the Time of Cholera? Let us not forget Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda. How many of us have read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho? Many of us have. This is all part of Latin American culture.

Of course, it is impossible to talk about Latin America without mentioning its contribution to sport and to soccer, which we call fútbol. I am thinking of Brazil's five world cups, Uruguay's two, and Argentina's two. I am thinking of great players such as Pelé, Messi, and Maradona. I am thinking of how creatively Chile and Colombia play the game. Here at home, we have Ignacio Piatti, an Argentinian who plays for the Montreal Impact in the city I am honoured to represent.

I could go on and on about so many other things, such as Latin America's influence in the fields of medicine and science. I could talk about the Maya, who grew cacao hundreds of years before it was exported by European conquistadors, or about corn, which was cultivated all across the Americas and, like cacao, is now eaten, enjoyed, and prized around the world.

Latin America is also home to indigenous peoples. I am sure members will agree. Indigenous peoples flourished all across the continent. They created many languages and dialects and built major civilizations. The most famous ones are the Inca people in Peru and the Maya and Aztec peoples in central America and Mexico. Theirs were major civilizations that made significant contributions to the world over the centuries.

I could go on, but I want to spend some time talking about the Latin American community here in Canada. First off, I would say that it is a very varied and diverse community. Its members come from every corner of Latin America. It is also a young community, since 50% of its members are under the age of 25. Furthermore, it is a thriving community. Factoring in both immigrants and the children of immigrants, I would say that about 1 million people are here today because of immigration from Latin America. These people are from all over, and they can be found everywhere. They are artists, doctors, restaurant owners, musicians, teachers, managers, athletes, and sometimes even politicians. There are not many of those, but there are a few. These are the people that this bill honours.

Bill S-218 “recognizes that members of the Latin American community in Canada have made significant contributions to the social, economic and political fabric of the nation”. The objective of the bill is to designate the month of October as Latin American heritage month. Why October? As my colleagues stated, October is an important month for us and for the Latin American community. Many Latin American countries celebrate their independence day in October. It is also a month when Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Venezuela celebrate many religious or other holidays.

I salute the member for Davenport, who has helped me organize Hispanic Day on the Hill for the past two years. The tradition will continue next year with Senator Rosa Galvez, who is of Peruvian descent and is joining the team in order to organize an even bigger event. All my colleagues in the House are invited, of course.

There are many other things happening. I am thinking of ParlAmericas, which plays an important role in the dialogue between parliamentarians for the Americas. I am also thinking of different parliamentary friendship groups, such as the Canada-Costa Rica, Canada-Argentina, Canada-Mexico, and Canada-Cuba friendship groups.

Bill S-218 highlights all of this. This bill recognizes the contribution of our fellow Canadians of Latin American origin, and now we must promote this contribution.

In closing, I would like to again acknowledge the late Senator Enverga's initiative. May the passage of this bill honour his memory and ensure that his dream becomes a reality. I would also like to thank the member for Thornhill for agreeing to sponsor the bill, thus ensuring that Senator Enverga's dream will become a reality.

I will close by saying long live Latin America and long live Canada.

[The member spoke in Spanish.]

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

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. It also suggests that designating a Latin American heritage month will allow Canadians to learn more about this contribution, and ensure that it is never forgotten. We know 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. We also know that October is an especially important month for Latin American communities the world over.

The bill therefore proposes that October be designated Latin American heritage month throughout the country.

The bill mentions the diversity of Latin American communities in Quebec and Canada, since Latin Americans come from various countries and states. It also mentions the important contributions they have made to the broader communities around them, to community spirit, to the economy of our cities and towns, and to the social fabric of our country. The presence of communities with which Quebeckers share a certain affinity, similar values and culture, and where there is mutual recognition, contributes a great deal to our communities, and that is what I want to acknowledge about this bill.

Quebec's intercultural project is based on this ability to live together and work together to build a community. This involves recognizing our shared values and the contributions of every individual, which are shaped by his or her personal experience and cultural background.

It is also the reason why this bill proposes that Quebeckers and Canadians learn more about the contributions of Latin American Canadians in order to provide an opportunity to remember and recognize them. That is what designating a Latin American heritage month would do: allow us to learn about the achievements of Latin American Canadians in communities throughout Quebec, particularly in our own neighbourhoods. I do not want to appear biased, but of course everything is better in Longueuil and Saint-Hubert. The same holds true in communities across Canada that have been enriched by the contributions of people from many different backgrounds.

There is a reason why October has been proposed for Latin American heritage month. As mentioned in the bill, October is an important month for Latin Americans. Fall is a time when many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile, celebrate their independence.

Many of these countries were among the first former colonies to declare independence in the 19th century, and some became models of republican harmony. They projected the idea that racial segregation could be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with colonial institutions and economic exploitation. For that, they deserve to be honoured.

There are other reasons why this bill proposes making October a month for celebrating Latin American communities. October was chosen because of certain traditions and customs. We know that it is a significant month in Latin America and South America, since it is the month when Costa Rica celebrates the Day of Cultures, Venezuela observes the Day of Indigenous Resistance, Argentina marks the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, Brazil has its Children's Day, and various Latin American cultures celebrate the Day of the Dead.

We feel that dedicating the 10th month of the year to our Latin American communities would give members of those communities an opportunity to share these cultural traditions with their neighbours, in a spirit of harmony. The bill also notes that this event would bring people together and give them a chance to share and celebrate this rich cultural heritage.

A little while ago, L'Actualité published a profile of Quebec's Latin American community that highlighted the strong kinship between Quebeckers and the tens of thousands of members of that community, who refer to themselves as Latino-Quebeckers. According to the article, 90% of Latino immigrants choose to learn French when they arrive in Quebec. The community has a political presence in Quebec too, with people like former minister Joseph Facal and the member for Honoré-Mercier, who is originally from Argentina.

Our cities bear witness to the political history of these peoples. The statue of Simón Bolívar located five minutes from here, just off Rideau Street, was a gift to Canada from Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

We also have Salvador Allende Street in Laval, a tribute to the former Chilean president who was assassinated in a coup d'état. Let us not forget Quebec City's Parc de l'Amérique-Latine, which was established at the mouth of the Saint-Charles river to pay tribute to great figures in Latin American history, such as poet, writer, and Cuban national independence hero José Martí, Haitian independence hero Toussaint Louverture, and military leader Bernardo O'Higgins, a hero who fought for Chilean independence. They are legion, but those who have left the most indelible mark on Quebec are the men and women who made a life here. Thousands of people from various Latin and South American countries now live in Quebec City, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, and the area I am from, Longueuil and Saint-Hubert.

At the Nouvelle Vie church in Longueuil, there are Venezuelan, Peruvian, Cuban, and Quebec musicians. The Sacré-Cœur-de-Jésus church on Brodeur Street, right above our community centre, Entraide chez nous, hosts colourful, welcoming celebrations. Since I was elected in 2011, one of the encounters that has stood out for me was with Marco, who has been dedicated to the Table Itinérance Rive-Sud for many years and who, to me, is one of the greatest symbols of community involvement. Although Marco does a lot of work in the community, and everyone back home in Longueuil agrees, I am sure that if you asked him what he is most proud of, he would say his children, whom he teaches about his heritage every day, since the most beautiful language of all is the one spoken by our children.

It is in our best interests to actively create stronger relationships with Latin American countries, to build cultural bridges, and to share our ambitions with trade blocs like Mercosur. The Latin American communities established here, in Quebec and Canada, can help facilitate these joint projects. These communities and their heritage also make unique contributions to our culture and to the spirit of community in Quebec. I am very proud to highlight these contributions today and to support this proposal to designate a Latin American heritage month.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Gracias, señor presidente. Buenas tardes.

Mr. Speaker, it is pleasure for me to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-218, an act to designate October as Latin American heritage month.

I want to thank the late Senator Tobias Enverga Jr., who left us way too soon late last year, for his leadership and for sponsoring the bill.

I also want to thank my colleague, the member for Thornhill, who is the sponsor of the bill in this venerable House.

Members may not know this but my mother is Mexican. She was born in a small town called El Recodo in Mexico. It is internationally-known for its band music, and for a band called Banda el Recodo. Later in life she moved to Mazatlán, which is a beautiful seaside beach resort town, where she met my father. They then moved to Canada. That is why I was born here. Her name is Maria Amparo Lizarraga Zatarain. Although my last name does not reflect it, I am a very proud Mexican Canadian and a very proud Hispanic Canadian.

I am so pleased that in my downtown west riding of Davenport I have a growing Hispanic community that is very diverse. We have a number of people from North America, Central American, and South America. I have Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Chileans, Salvadoreans, Guyanese, Colombians, Peruvians, and so many others from this amazing part of the world.

We also have many celebrations of the Latin American culture in Davenport, including the very popular Salsa on St. Clair. This is a very popular festival that tends to take place the first weekend in July. Thousands of people from right across the city come out to sing in Spanish, to celebrate their different cultures, the different parts of Latin American and Central American cultures, and also to learn how to salsa. We turn St. Clair into a big dance floor, and it is a wonderful celebration.

In my riding of Davenport we also have a number of programs for the Hispanic community, including a very popular seniors program, which is at the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre. I would like to give a shout-out to Mariela and Lumy for all their work in keeping our Hispanic seniors healthy, active, and engaged. I hope at some point to bring all of them up to the Hispanic Day on the Hill, which my colleague from Honoré-Mercier and I organize with Senator Rosa Galvez.

Bill S-218 is super important. It sets aside a specific time of the year to celebrate and educate fellow Canadians about the unbelievably talented Hispanic and Latin American communities in Canada. Should the bill pass, October will be the month that is dedicated as the time to honour the contributions of Hispanic Canadians in Canada.

I do not know if members know this, but an annual award is given to the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians. These awards have been happening for 11 years. They are given out to an amazing pool of Hispanic and Latin American leaders. They are leaders in business, science, art, academics, law, media, and in so many other areas. I want to mention a few of them. I happened to have a chance to meet with them last week.

I want to mention Amanda Martinez, who is a world-renowned musician and artist, a Juno-winning artist, as well as winning international awards. We have Ana Dominguez, who is the president of Campbell Company of Canada. We have Mercedes Rowinsky-Geurts, who is a former dean and professor at Wilfred Laurier University. We have Dr. Alejandro Adem, who is the CEO of Mitacs Inc. As members can hear, there are lots of amazing, talented Hispanic and Latin American Canadians here in Canada. They serve as an inspiration to not only the Hispanic community but all Canadians.

We are doing a number of things in Ottawa to promote the Hispanic and Latin American culture. Earlier, my colleague from Honoré-Mercier mentioned that both he and I organized Hispanic Day on the Hill. We started it two and a half years ago when we first came to office. We recognized that there was no opportunity for us to elevate, at the national level, an event that celebrated the amazing talents and diversity of the culture, as well as the contributions of all of the amazing Hispanic community to Canada.

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to host a number of leaders. There were 20 top-10 Hispanic leaders of Canada here. They came and met with the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities on issues of great importance to the community. Some of the issues we talked about were how to invigorate Canada's thriving start-up culture, how to create more awareness for Hispanics and Canada's creative class, and how to provide more support for migrant workers. The list goes on, but we had a wonderful discussion with a number of ministers. It was very successful, and I was delighted to be able to host them on the Hill.

Canada has recognized the magic and opportunity of Latin American countries. Indeed, we have engaged quite a bit in trade agreements with our Latin American counterparts. The first one that included a number of Latin American countries is the CPTPP. It includes 11 countries, a lot of which are in Asia, but Mexico and two from South America, Peru and Chile, are also included. We are looking forward to expanding our trade relations through that agreement.

About two months ago, we launched negotiations for Mercosur, which is the South American trading bloc composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, with a combined population of 260 million people and a GDP of over $3 trillion. I am delighted we have one agreement in place. We also have a Canada-Chile trade agreement in place. We are working hard on Mercosur. This will absolutely further cement a deepening trade relationship between Canada and Latin and Central American countries, but it will also deepen our cultural and personal ties with each of these countries.

I want to also mention we have a number of youth mobility agreements, particularly with Chile and Mexico. These agreements allow youth from our respective countries to travel to each other's countries to work or study so we can learn more about each other. Ultimately, this helps strengthen the relationships between our respective countries, and I think it bodes well for our future.

As a final mention, I have been working on a number of very important issues within the Latin American community as a commitment from our government. We have been working a lot in terms of making sure agricultural workers' rights are supported in Canada. Many of these workers come from Mexico, do a wonderful job, and are temporary foreign workers. We have put money in budget 2018 to ensure that their rights are protected and they are treated well here. We have also put some money aside to ensure non-profit groups have the ability to help support these agricultural temporary workers here in Canada. They ensure that they know their rights, and if they have any issues, they can communicate with them in their own language on how to address them.

We are putting money into promoting multiculturalism. We have also given some teeth to an ombudsperson, who is able to ensure Canadian companies in the mining industry in different sectors around the world—in particular Mexico, Latin America, and South America—adhere to human and environmental rights. We are doing a lot in terms of taking advantage of the opportunities before us in Latin and Central America, and we are looking forward to building stronger relations.

I know that my time is up. I want to end by saying I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this very important bill. I encourage all my colleagues in the House to support it. As our Prime Minister always says, Canada is stronger because of our diversity. Indeed, the Hispanic community has enriched our culture, our community, and our lives, and Canada is a better country for it.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

[Member spoke in Spanish as follows:]

Gracias, señor presidente, y en adelante.

[English]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the enthusiastic support for Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, that we have heard again today from all sides of this House.

This legislation recognizes the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric by Canada's Latin American community. This legislation, conceived and carefully fashioned by our late colleague and former senator, the Honourable Tobias Enverga, will stand, I am sure, as a major element of his political legacy.

As I noted when I tabled Bill S-218 on his behalf here in the House, Senator Enverga Tobias, known to his friends as “Jun”, was the first Canadian of Filipino descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. Born in the Philippines, he represented Ontario in the Senate since his appointment in 2012.

When Senator Enverga first spoke to Bill S-218 in the other place, he reminded colleagues that he came to Canada as an immigrant, one of many in the upper chamber today, who was fortunate to be welcomed to 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, for example, of Black History Month, which was recognized by this 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 familiarize Canadians with the stories and important history that is too often absent in school curricula.

He mentioned as well Asian Heritage Month, which was proclaimed in 2002, and marked annually ever since when non-Asian Canadians learn and experience the sounds, entertainment, and tastes of Asia, and celebrate the contributions Asian Canadians have brought to Canadian society. Those, Senator Enverga argued, are just two wonderful examples of designated heritage months to which, he believed, a Latin American heritage month should be added.

As colleagues have noted many times throughout this debate, Latin America is of our hemisphere. For the purposes of this bill, Senator Enverga envisioned the widest possible interpretation so that Bill S-218 would cover those who identify as Spanish and Portuguese speakers from South and Central America, as well as those whose heritage is of the francophone and Hispanic Caribbean Islands. Using that broad and inclusive measure, members 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 specific census numbers, we might estimate a possible demographic well above half a million men, women, and children, perhaps as many as 1.2 million Latin Americans living among us.

When Senator Enverga originally approached me to ask that I sponsor his bill in the House, he explained that because I was a former minister of state for the Americas, he thought that I understood and greatly appreciated the wonderful mix and complexity of Canada's communities composed of those among us who originated from Latin America and that I would be able to put a voice to the message that led to the passage of Bill S-218 in this place. I hope that I have communicated the senator's worthy dream.

I, too, believe that declaring the month of October to be Latin American heritage month would offer to all Canadians an opportunity to celebrate yet another dimension of our uniquely Canadian multicultural society. I urge all members of all parties to support Bill S-218.

[Member spoke in Spanish as follows:]

Muchas gracias a todos.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

moved that Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in support of Bill S-218. However, as much as I am honoured to sponsor this proposed legislation, which recognizes the many significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric by Canada's Latin American community, I do so with a measure of sadness, because this legislation was conceived and lovingly fashioned by our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga. Before I address the specifics of the legislation and the overwhelming logic behind it, I would like to speak to Senator Enverga's memory.

Senator Tobias Enverga, known to his friends as “Jun”, was the first Canadian of Filipino descent to be appointed to the Senate. Born in the Philippines, he represented Ontario in the upper house after his appointment in 2012. His was a proud and very positive voice not only for the Filipino community, but also for a host of others in the greater Toronto area and across the country.

Senator Enverga was a passionate champion of multiculturalism. He believed that Canada's wonderful, ever-developing diversity to be our country's greatest strength. He was respected by Senate and House colleagues alike for his kindness, his warm sense of humour, and his unparalleled work ethic. He was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. He served as a Catholic School Board trustee in Toronto and became known in the Toronto region for launching the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group and inaugurated the annual Filipino Independence Day flag raising on Parliament Hill.

During his years in the Senate, Tobias was a member of several standing committees and participated in a variety of important studies on issues ranging from first nations northern housing to maritime search and rescue operations. As well, he was an executive member of the ParlAmericas group and invested his energy in forging closer ties with parliamentarians throughout Latin America, helping them to strengthen democracy and governance through political dialogue and parliamentary co-operation. It was Senator Enverga's work with ParlAmericas that moved him to propose the bill that is before the House today.

Senator Enverga died Thursday, November 16, while on parliamentary business in Colombia. Despite his tragic and untimely passing, Senator Enverga's Latin American heritage month bill does live on. It was passed in the other place a couple of weeks later, and it was sent to us in this House.

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 to 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 school curricula previously. 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 are just two wonderful examples of designated heritage months to which he believed a Latin American heritage month should be added.

Some of my colleagues in the House may remember that Senator Enverga introduced a bill in the 41st Parliament, Bill S-228, to create a Hispanic heritage month, matching such designation by the Province of Ontario and by the City of Toronto. That bill died in the election of 2015. Senator Enverga, after consultation with the members of the public, reconsidered the reintroduction of that legislation and decided to change the focus in the bill to Latin America as a geographic and linguistic community which would add not only the lusophone and francophone communities but also those of indigenous peoples of the Latin American region.

This was not a snap decision. Senator Enverga pondered long and deeply the issues of self-identification of the diverse Latin American community in Canada. He became convinced that a Latin American heritage month would better enhance our understanding of the complexities involved. He also believed it would respect the spirit of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988.

Latin America is of our hemisphere. The region is generally understood to consist of the entire continent of South America, all of Central America, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean, whose people speak a Romance language or have a Romance language among their various national official languages. For the purposes of this bill, Senator Enverga envisaged the widest possible interpretation so that Bill S-218 would cover those who identify as Spanish and Portuguese speakers from South America and Central America, as well as those whose heritage is of 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.

What we do know 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%. Again, in terms of actual numbers, demographers can only estimate that between 600,000 and perhaps 1.2 million Latin Americans, again from the broadest possible measure, live among us.

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. Their motivation sadly 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 regimes under first, Hugo Chavez, and now, the brutal Nicolas Maduro. These Latin Americans represented significant loss to the countries that they left, but they have been a boon to Canada. Their education, their skills, and their adaptability have been of great benefit to Canada's labour market, to our economy, and to our culture.

The top three South American countries with the highest populations living in Canada, according to census statistics, are Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador. The three countries from South America with the smallest populations now living in Canada are Puerto Rico, Panama, and Costa Rica. Most Canadians of Latin American origin live in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, or Alberta, with almost half making their homes in Ontario.

Canada's Latin American population is young. Statistics Canada tells us that almost 50% of those with Latin American origins living in Canada are under the age of 25. 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. Also, Statistics Canada 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 sharp contrast to the United States, the demographic is not measured or appreciated nearly as much as are their counterparts in the U.S.

That is where Senator Enverga's bill, Bill S-218, stands not only to deepen our appreciation and celebration of our Latin American community, but to more precisely measure the actual numbers and its regional contributions to our economy and culture.

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

I know that hon. members enjoy a party. There are any number of events across the country that celebrate the multi-dimensional Latin American community. One perfect example is Toronto's annual Salsa on St. Clair. Last year's party, on a closed-off midtown street, drew hundreds of thousands of people, attracting more musicians, dancers, families, and Latino aficionados than ever before to enjoy the sounds, sights, tastes, dances, and all the colour of the Americas.

Senator Enverga's bill, Bill S-218, would designate the month of October each and every year as Latin American heritage month. Let me explain the logic of this designation. October is a very significant month across Latin America. It is the month that marks the end of the annual season of independence celebrations from Mexico to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

October 12 marks Dia de las Culturas, the day of the cultures, in Costa Rica; Dia de la Resistencia lndigena, the day of indigenous resistance, in Venezuela; Dia del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural, the day of respect for cultural diversity, in Argentina; Dia de las Américas, the day of the Americas, in Uruguay; and the feast day of Our Lady of Aparecida, the appearance, and Dia das Crianças, children's day, in Brazil.

Puerto Rico and Chile also wrap up their independence celebrations coming up to October, and many other countries, including Mexico, end October with the three-day celebration of Dia de Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a celebration of ancestors.

Of course, we cannot forget the Hispanic influences in Senator Enverga's own country of origin. Canada's large and vibrant Filipino community, although fiercely proud of the independence won from Spain, which we celebrate every year in my riding of Thornhill, still observes All Saints' Day, the Day of the Dead, and many other cultural legacies of colonial days maintained among their newer national traditions.

When Senator Enverga originally approached me to ask that I sponsor his bill in the House, he explained that, as a former minister of state for the Americas, I understood the wonderful mix and complexity of Canada's communities composed of those among us who originated from Latin America, and I would be able to put voice to the message that led to the passage of Bill S-218 in the other place.

I hope that I have communicated the senator's worthy dream. I believe that declaring the month of October to be Latin American heritage month would fulfill a wonderful opportunity to celebrate another dimension of our uniquely Canadian multicultural society. I urge members of all parties in the House to support Bill S-218.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to recognize and pay respect to Senator Tobias Enverga for introducing this bill, and I would like to thank the member for sponsoring it. It is incredibly important.

In his speech, Senator Enverga recognized the importance of Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month, looking at the rich colour, vibrancy, and culture of those groups, and now he has introduced Latin American heritage month, which includes the Caribbean, where I am from. As mentioned, I came here in the 1970s, so I can attest to a lot of the things my hon. colleague talked about.

As it is the fastest growing group in Canada, I am wondering if my hon. colleague could speak to how important it is for Canadians across the country to learn about and understand multiculturalism, and the intersectionality, heritage, and history of this group in our Canadian context.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for telling us about her fond remembrance of Senator Enverga.

The heritage months that have been recognized by the Parliament of Canada, by the upper house and this House, have at their heart, I believe, the unspoken intent of intercultural recognition, acceptance, and the celebration of Canada's wonderful diversity. They provide an occasion, on an annual basis, for subsequent generations to maintain that memory when there may be a tendency, in this case for those of Latin American heritage, to lose some contact with their language and culture.

We passed a bill just recently for Jewish Heritage Month. Canadians of Latin American origin, like those of black origin or Asian origin, do celebrate and maintain all of the best of their individual cultures and languages, as well as share them to enable all Canadians to join in the celebrations, in this case celebrations that would take place during the month of October.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Latin American community has contributed greatly to Canada, not just as immigrants, but also as temporary foreign workers. Many temporary foreign workers, particularly those who are seasonal workers, do not qualify for benefits they pay into, for example employment insurance.

To really honour the community and its contributions to Canada, would the member agree that we should align our government policies to ensure that those who pay into those programs qualify for the benefits and, more to the point, that if they are good enough to work, they are good enough to stay?

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a question that regularly comes to the surface at a time when temporary foreign workers from Central America and South America come north to Canada to assist in the harvesting of crops or to work in the meat-packing industry in western Canada. Too often, they are discriminated against by the uninformed in the communities where they are temporarily employed. Sometimes they live in less than appropriate or comfortable housing conditions.

On any number of occasions in the last 15 years, the House of Commons has considered granting broader rights and benefits to those who, as my colleague just said, are good enough to come to Canada to work but, in too many cases, have not received the subsequent benefits they should have received or the opportunity to perhaps make their residency in Canada permanent, which Latin American students, for example, can now accomplish much more easily than in the past.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today in the House to speak to Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month, which would recognize the contributions of Latin American communities to Canada and establish October of each year as Latin American heritage month.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage with responsibility for multiculturalism, I am pleased to inform the House that the government supports the bill. In so doing, let me start by paying tribute to the late Senator Tobias Enverga, the author of this bill, a strong senator, a great Filipino Canadian, and a champion of multiculturalism.

Canadians of Latin American origin have been part of the Canadian mosaic for decades. This bill recognizes the richness of these Latin American communities and their significant contributions to the social, economic, and political fabric of Canada.

Given the strong and growing presence of individuals of Latin American ancestry, this bill is a meaningful way to remember those contributions, educate the public, and encourage all Canadians to celebrate Latin American culture and traditions.

Formal recognition of Latin American heritage month is significant because it aligns with what all of us know, that in Canada our diversity is indeed our strength, and that as a country we are strengthened in many ways by our shared experiences, by the diversity that inspires both Canada and the world, and by the way in which we treat one another.

Official recognition is also consistent with other similar commemorations that reinforce the importance of cultural communities to Canada's identity. A few examples have already been mentioned today. We previously supported the establishment of February as Black History Month, and May as Asian Heritage Month. A new Latin American heritage month in October would complement these other celebrations and recognize the contributions of this important group in Canada.

In 1971, Pierre Trudeau declared multiculturalism as an official policy in this country, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. In 1982, upon the patriation of our Constitution and the enactment of the charter, section 27 was enacted, which includes references to “the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians” and the important role this plays in protecting the rights of every citizen.

Recognizing the past and current contributions of Latin Americans who immigrated to Canada and have contributed to this country is in keeping with our country's commitment to an inclusive, multicultural society.

Let me reinforce the fact that our multicultural heritage is a reflection of our commitment to equality and the fundamental freedoms that are grounded in human rights. In 1988, Canada became the first nation to proclaim a Multiculturalism Act. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of that legislation this year.

This law requires that we promote the multicultural heritage of Canadians. It also requires that we work to ensure that all Canadians are equal in our economic, social, cultural, and political life. However, our government has taken this approach one step further. Formal recognition of Latin American heritage month would directly support Canada's approach to multiculturalism, an approach that seeks to recognize and promote the cultural and racial diversity of Canada, one that acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance, and share their cultural heritage.

In going one step further, we have addressed this issue in budget 2018. In the most recent budget, we announced nearly $50 million in new funding to support programming that empowers communities to combat racism and discrimination: $23 million has been dedicated to multiculturalism; in addition, $19 million has been dedicated to the black community, and $6 million to the collection and dissemination of data on racialized persons. These funds will allow us to craft a new national anti-racism approach and give meaning to the official language contained in the Multiculturalism Act.

Let me return to Bill S-218, the Latin American heritage month bill before us today. The question that immediately comes to mind is, why October? Each year, during the month of October, peoples of Hispanic origin around the world pay tribute to their shared culture through celebrations such as Hispanic day, the day of the cultures, the day of indigenous resistance, and the commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month in North America. The latter celebrates the presence of Hispanics in North America, starting with the arrival of Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492.

October is also recognized as Hispanic Heritage Month in the city of Toronto, the province of Ontario, and in the United States. Bill S-218 underscores the importance of this community to our entire country and builds awareness at the national level.

I would like to say a few words about Latin Americans and who they are exactly. They are my constituents in Parkdale—High Park, who hail from all parts of the Americas in which Spanish or Portuguese is the main language. They are the folks in Toronto who run Salsa on St. Clair, the Argentinian community at Folklorama in Winnipeg, and the Peruvian community at Folkfest in Saskatoon. “Hispanic” is a narrower term, which is defined as “of or connected with Spain or Spanish-speaking countries”.

When Senator Enverga introduced this bill in the Senate, he explained that he had consulted members of the community and the public and had considered more inclusive and neutral wording. As a result, the bill refers to the geographic linguistic community of Latin America, which includes Portuguese- and French-speaking communities, as well as the indigenous peoples of the region, as opposed to the common but narrower reference to people of Hispanic heritage alone.

Bill S-218 defines Latin America broadly as a group of nations that includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as Puerto Rico, the French West Indies, and other islands.

As pointed out by Senator Enverga, many if not all Latin American countries also have a shared colonial history, stemming from the time when Spain and Portugal were world powers.

The first wave of Latin American immigration to Canada occurred between 1970 and 1973 with the arrival of approximately 68,000 immigrants. Today, Canadians of Latin American origin represent one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada. As referenced earlier in today's debate, they are a constantly growing population, who represent more than 544,000 Canadian individuals and counting.

The majority of Latin Americans in Canada are Catholics, representing more than 60% of the Latin American community. Latin Americans are a diverse group within a diverse nation that we now all call home.

As a government, we are proud to support Bill S-218, which promotes and upholds our diversity and strengthens our multicultural and pluralistic society. At our root, we firmly believe we will only succeed as a nation when we move from simply tolerating differences to truly celebrating differences. Bill S-218 is an important step in allowing us to do just that. I urge my fellow parliamentarians to honour the memory of the late Senator Enverga and support this bill.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today to speak in favour of Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. This bill would enshrine October of every year as Latin American heritage month, in recognition of social, economic, and political contributions that the Latin American community has made to Canada.

Before I speak further to this bill, I would like to recognize that this bill is before us today due to the tireless work of Senator Enverga, whom we were all saddened to lose in November of last year. Senator Enverga was the first Filipino Canadian appointed to the Senate, and he was deeply respected for his advocacy work for persons with disabilities and Canada's multiculturalism. The bill before us today is an example of his dedication to honouring a diverse Canada, and it is a pleasure to continue that work in this House.

Close to 40,000 people in the Lower Mainland have Latin American heritage. The community is vibrant and diverse, and every year there are plenty of wonderful events and activities highlighting and celebrating their culture. This year, from June 27 to July 8, Vancouver will celebrate Latin American Week. Carnaval del Sol, a free family-friendly festival, is always one of the biggest attractions. This year will be the 10th annual Carnaval del Sol, and will feature close to 400 performers showcasing singers, dancers, bands, and incredible food. Latin American Week will give people the opportunity to attend cooking classes, dancing classes, a fashion show, and plenty of arts and crafts displays highlighting the diversity of Vancouver's Latin American community. From August 23 to September 2, Vancouver will have its 16th annual Latin American Film Festival showcasing contemporary Latin American and Latin Canadian filmmaking. I encourage all Canadians to check similar events in their communities or in communities nearby, as festivals and events like these happen across Canada each year. If there is not one in their community, I invite people to come to Vancouver and check out ours.

I and my New Democratic Party colleagues are proud supporters of Canada's multiculturalism and have long supported celebrating the unique heritage of Canada and Canadians. Our great diversity has allowed Canada to be built through the contributions of many different ethnic and religious groups, and those with Latin American heritage are most certainly among them. Canada's rich cultural mosaic is one of the things that makes Canada what it is today. It is a huge strength that we should all celebrate and be proud of. Events like Vancouver's Latin American Week and Latin American Film Festival put on display for all of us the richness of our society. The opportunity to speak to this and to attend events like those mentioned is one of the many reasons I have been honoured to be the NDP critic for multiculturalism.

The other hat that I wear for the New Democratic Party is that of critic for immigration, refugees, and citizenship. I feel it is important to examine bills like this from that lens as well, because actions speak louder than words. Recognizing Canada's diverse cultures and heritage is important, but it is even more important to recognize how we treat the people of that culture and heritage. According to the 2016 census, over 1.4 million Canadians identified as having Caribbean origin, or Latin, Central, or South American origins.

However, this number does not truly reflect how many individuals with Latin American heritage are in Canada and contributing immensely to Canada's society and economy. While none of Canada's top-10 source countries for new permanent residents are in Latin America, seven of the top-20 countries for temporary foreign workers annually are. Mexico and Jamaica are the top countries of origin for temporary foreign workers in Canada. Additionally, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Brazil, held top spots in 2017. These countries alone accounted for almost 37,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada, on positive labour market impact assessments from January to September.

The seasonal agricultural worker program sees an additional 30,000 labourers coming to Canada each year, primarily from Mexico, Jamaica, and other Caribbean countries. People from this program provide vital contributions to Canada, working long hard hours in Canada's agriculture industry to ensure our crops are harvested and sent to market.

I do not believe we can truly recognize the contributions of Latin Americans to Canada without recognizing the immense contributions of Latin Americans who, due to how our immigration system functions, come here every year to provide vital services while lacking a pathway to making Canada their home. While these programs are structured to fill temporary needs, some research has shown that many agricultural workers have been coming to Canada for 10 years or more. Neither the seasonal agricultural worker program nor the agricultural workers stream of the temporary foreign worker program offer a pathway to permanence for these people, and force them to leave their families back home while in Canada.

While doing this incredibly important work in Canada, these workers often find themselves excluded from workplace protections that Canadians take for granted, even if they are paying for them. Workers in the seasonal agricultural worker program are not eligible for employment insurance despite it being deducted from their paycheques, and they are excluded from most aspects of employment standards acts, to name just two issues.

If we are to celebrate Latin American heritage in Canada and designate October to be Latin American heritage month, we need to match these words with actions. Let us not just recognize the importance of diversity and the joy of attending beautiful festivals and celebrations, but examine how our policies prevent the people whose heritage we say we appreciate from staying in Canada and calling it their home. Let us use this opportunity to realign our policies to recognize how much we rely on Latin American people in Canada by ensuring that we provide them with the ability to become a Canadian citizen. I have always said that if they are good enough to work here, they are good enough to stay. That approach should be the foundational principle for Canada's immigration policies.

In recognition of the contribution of the Latin American community, let us begin that work. Let us make sure that for all those who come to contribute to Canada in a permanent fashion, in a temporary fashion, and particularly for the temporary foreign workers, that we honour them by ensuring that if they are good enough to work here, they are good enough to stay.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to able to speak to this important bill recognizing Latin American heritage month here in Canada. As other colleagues have, I want to start by recognizing the incredible work on this particular initiative, and in general, by the late Senator Tobias Enverga. Many good comments have been made about his work. I personally remember him as a person of contagious joy, and that is my enduring impression of him. Yes, there is the important work he did on initiatives like this, but I will remember him as being someone who was so full of goodwill and had an evident rich love for his family. He was always proud to have his family with him at different events. I want to associate myself with the words of my colleagues about Senator Enverga.

I also thank my colleague from Thornhill for the excellent work he has done in this place on this bill. I know issues in Latin America are close to his heart. He has done a great deal of work around human rights issues in Venezuela. Coming out of his work as minister with a particular focus on the Americas, it is very appropriate he has picked up this particular initiative. It is one I know is close to his heart as well.

I have a few comments about heritage months in general. The questions I sometimes get from constituents are “What's this heritage month thing all about?”, “Why do we have them?” and “Why are they even necessary?” I want to defend the idea of having heritage months for a number of different reasons.

First of all, these are important points of recognition and appreciation, of acknowledgement of the contributions different cultural communities bring to Canada. Second, just so people understand, there is no associated cost or government spending. It is not a month off work or anything like that. These heritage months are simply a point in time at which we recognize and appreciate contributions.

Also, these heritage months provide a particular opportunity for cultural sharing. Arguably, people from the community named are going to be aware of their own culture and heritage at all times of the year regardless. However, when we have a designated heritage month, that is a point in time for everybody else to pay particular attention to or recognize, or maybe be reminded that this is an opportunity to learn about and from the particular aspects of a culture and become more aware of it. It is not as practical to say that we should just be aware of all cultures at all times, although in a lot of ways we should. Having these specific points of noting and reminding ourselves is worthwhile as part of that process of ongoing cultural sharing and education.

These heritage months also provide us with an opportunity to note and listen to the experiences of Canadians from diverse backgrounds. In particular, we know Canadians from visible minority backgrounds may experience prejudice others do not, and using these times as an opportunity to reflect on that, be sensitive to that, and learn about the experiences of others is very valuable.

It is not enough to say that one is simply blind to difference. It is important to affirm equal dignity, but it is also important to notice and understand the particular challenges people may face, as well as to work to improve the situation of people in the context of their particular experiences. It requires us to listen to recognize that other people's experiences may not be the same as ours, and may not even be something we observe, because their experiences are their experiences. These heritage months and other such points of acknowledgement are important moments for us to notice those experiences and be very sensitive about listening to what the experiences of others may be that are different from our own.

In particular, Bill S-218 is a bill that calls on us to recognize the contributions of people in Canada from Central and South American backgrounds. Obviously, this is a very diverse region in and of itself. For the most part, we are talking about people who come from a Spanish-speaking background, but also people from a wide variety of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

I was reading an article recently in The Economist that spoke about Italian speakers in Brazil. This was something I did not know, but certain small linguistic dialects exist in Brazil that may have a close relationship to forms of Italian, German, and of course, many different indigenous languages and backgrounds. That diversity is certainly reflected in the Canadian experience as well. We are enriched by the contributions of the wide diversity of peoples who come here from different backgrounds.

Other colleagues have mentioned the importance of October in terms of a number of different holidays, which were mentioned, and various feasts and celebrations that have their roots in different cultural backgrounds from that part of the world.

Members may know that I am a Catholic. Probably the most recognizable Latin American person in the world today would be Pope Francis who comes from Argentina. I think it is worth reflecting on his work as he is someone whose experience particularly reflects coming from Argentina, seeing the poverty that exists in parts of South America, and being very convicted in bringing our attention to the need to fight for justice and do all we can to help the poor and the marginalized. I think many people, Catholic and non-Catholic, have been greatly inspired by his work and his challenge to all of us to be more sensitive in response to the experiences of those who are struggling and to do all we can to be attentive to the needs of the poor.

Another figure I would like to mention, and someone Pope Francis has highlighted, is the late Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero. Again, he is an example of a leading Catholic figure who spoke out against injustice. He is someone who is moving forward through the process of beatification. Oscar Romero was assassinated in the midst of celebrating mass. He was in the middle of serving a mass for people who were in the church when someone came in and killed him. There was never a conviction for that crime. He was one of those people who was fearless in speaking out on the importance of justice and universal human dignity. He did so in the context of an environment of great political conflict, tension, and oppression of those who are vulnerable. These are figures I want to highlight as people who have been an inspiration to me and who come from this part of the world.

Many people who come to Canada, regardless of where they came from, certainly not all but many, come to escape conditions that were less than ideal where they were, whether that was poverty or some form of political persecution or oppression. We welcome and benefit from the contributions of those who come out of those situations. At the same time, many of those who come will inspire and challenge us to play a greater role as individuals and as a country in our pursuit of justice around the world. I am so glad that many members of Parliament, and certainly our caucus, have been very active on issues of human rights and human dignity in Central and South America. I know that a great deal of that is inspired by people who come here who have connections in some ways to that persecution. They share their stories and talk about what has happened in those contexts. They call on all of us as politicians, whether we come from that background or not, to commit ourselves and be part of that fight against oppression, that fight for justice and human rights.

In conclusion, I want to thank Senator Enverga, as well as the bill's sponsor in this place, for bringing this important bill to our attention. These heritage months are an opportunity for us to recognize the contributions of Canadians from diverse backgrounds, to see these moments of cultural sharing as opportunities for greater cultural understanding, to meditate on the examples of leading figures from these communities, to seek to be taught by their wisdom and by the their experiences, and to enjoy the benefits that come from our cultural diversity.

I commend this bill to the consideration of members of the House. I hope all members will vote for the bill.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to my colleagues across the way and on this side of the House talk about what Canada, really and truly, is all about. Our Prime Minister often talks about Canada's greatest strength being our diversity. I have heard that said on many occasions within the House, and I think we would find unanimous support that diversity is one of the things that makes us who we are as Canadians.

We have before us a bill that has come from the other place. The sponsor of the legislation talked about Senator Enverga and made reference to the fact that the late senator was co-chair of the Canada-Philippines parliamentary friendship group. I am the other co-chair and had the opportunity to work with Senator Enverga for a number of years. When he was first appointed to the Senate he took a very keen interest in the Canada-Philippines friendship group. Therefore, I am not surprised that the late senator brought forward this piece of legislation. I believe he understood the importance of Canada's diversity and how important it is that we recognize and celebrate it.

I had the opportunity, with the senator, to talk a great deal about the Philippines and that special relationship between two countries that we want to see further advanced. We heard comments about issues such as working visas. I would argue there is so much more to relationships between countries than just immigration. We try to expand on that through trade, and there have been a great deal of trade agreements and discussions that have taken place in Latin America.

There are many Latin American countries. I was just trying to make a quick note of some of the countries I am aware of. There is Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, El Salvador, Panama, and Cuba. These are just some of the countries that make up the Latin American region. That is why the senator captured the essence of the celebration we need to recognize. It goes beyond any one country. In fact, it is a region. It is a region in the world that has ultimately led to so much benefit for Canada as a society.

I have often had the opportunity to talk about what I believe is one of the greatest shows on Earth. It is all about multiculturalism. It takes place two weeks every summer in the city of Winnipeg. We call it Folkorama. The Latin American countries are well represented. I think of the Brazilian pavilion as an example. It is a pavilion of high demand. People want to go and experience Latin American culture and heritage. There is a great display of entertainment in the form of music, dance, the heritage costumes that are showcased, as well as the types of food and alcohol that are consumed. One gets a good sense of how much Latin American culture and heritage is truly appreciated and valued.

I am a big fan of recognizing heritage months and heritage weeks. We in the House have the opportunity to highlight different ethnic or cultural regions around the world in a very positive way. What I have found in my years here, but also in the provincial legislature, is that there is a great deal of goodwill from members on all sides of the House when it comes time to recognize those wonderful, positive attributes of what makes Canada the great country it is, that being our diversity.

The legislation before us would recognize the month of October as the month to give extra attention to a heritage community that has contributed so much to the development of our country. In fact, if we look at the base population, well over a half a billion people call Latin America their home. Over hundreds of years there has been a development of that heritage. Canada took a shortcut. We are a relatively young country, and thousands of individuals have made the decision to come to Canada and call it their home.

I am often afforded the opportunity to speak to people in a number of different cultural settings. One of the things I highlight, especially last year when we celebrated Canada's 150th birthday, is our multicultural attitude, and that makes me proud to be Canadian. We are not that melting pot. Rather, we recognize and value that diversity.

I often say to individuals, whether they are from Brazil, the Philippines, India, or anywhere else in the world, that because they have chosen to adopt Canada as their home does not mean they have to forget about their birth country or the country from where their ancestors came. In fact, I encourage those individuals to appreciate and share that heritage with the broader community in Canada.

Folklorama is all about that. It recognizes that individuals who participate in Folklorama share their heritage with a broader community. Over a quarter of a million people participate in those two weeks of activities. More important, what we see, and I will use the Brazilian pavilion as an example, is young people getting involved in showing and expressing their heritage, and sharing that. It does not just occur during those two weeks.

Often those volunteers, the thousands of volunteers who make up Folklorama, concentrate their efforts during those weeks, but it is year long. Activities are held and practices conducted. In fact, individuals are invited to participate in celebrations of multiculturalism around the world. Many of our performers in Folklorama, in the many different pavilions, are invited to participate.

By designating a month, it provides those individuals of that rich and vibrant community to continue to share their heritage with others. That is important to this community. By doing that, I believe we will see an enhancement of activities by Latin American countries during that month. That is a healthy thing.

In Winnipeg, for example, we see that community highlighted through things like Folklorama. By the House of Commons working with the Senate to recognize and to dedicate the month of October for the Latin American community, I believe we will see additional events in celebration of that heritage, showing how Canada has benefited from the community.

I want to share the introducer's comments with regard to Senator Enverga, a great Philippino Canadian who understood the importance of celebrating Canada's diversity.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

March 19th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I, too, am really proud to stand to speak to this legislation. I would like to recognize my colleague opposite for sponsoring the bill. I would also like to recognize the late Senator Enverga for the legislation, which is critically important.

As mentioned, Latin American month is critically important to recognize the rich colourfulness, experience, and culture of a particular community like we have done with others such as Black History Month and Asian Heritage Month. We recognized the Jewish community not too long ago. This is not just to recognize the experience and culture of those various groups, but also, and I do not want to put words in the late senator's mouth, to recognize the challenges those groups also face. We cannot be blind in understanding that these various groups face challenges when they come to the country. Therefore, it has to be a holistic and a comprehensive understanding and learning during these months. We could do it throughout the year. The month gives us a catalyst, but throughout the rest of the year, after October, it gives us an opportunity to understand more understand more about each other and to celebrate with each other.

I am really proud to speak to the legislation. As our Prime Minister has said, diversity is our strength but with that strength comes understanding and a willingness to not just be there for part of the celebration but also an understanding of the challenges that are faced as well.

As mentioned, this group is one of the largest growing. In the sixties and seventies, I was part of a group from the Caribbean, coming to Canada in 1975. My parents came to Canada to ensure we had better economic and social standing, especially for us, their children. Also, as an immigrant, it allows me to ensure my children have a better opportunity. Canada has afforded us those great opportunities and we are very thankful for that. The opportunity to celebrate is one that we should not take for granted.

As we talk about these groups within our country and understand the great sense of responsibility they have here, it is also important for us to recognize that as we celebrate these months, it brings us together as communities. It allows us to learn more about each other. Bill S-218 supports our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

As we have seen in budget 2018, it not only looks at things from a gendered lens, it also makes investments in multiculturalism, ensuring we have an anti-racism strategy, investments in the black community, investments in ensuring we have desegrated data. This will ensure that the limited resources we have are able to contribute to looking at the barriers that some of these communities face.

While we are celebrating, we also have to be very cognitive of the fact that we have to make policies and investments to ensure our communities that are facing challenges have the resources they need to overcome those challenges.

I thank the hon. member across the way and the late senator for introducing this very important legislation.

Latin American Heritage Month ActRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

moved that Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month, be read a first time.

Mr. Speaker, I am truly honoured to table and sponsor Bill S-218, an act respecting Latin American heritage month. I am particularly honoured because the legislation, which recognizes the significant contributions to Canada's social, economic, and political fabric by our Latin American community, was created and lovingly fashioned by our late colleague, the hon. Senator Tobias Enverga.

Senator Enverga, a champion of multiculturalism, believed that diversity was Canada's greatest strength. It was Tobias's firm belief, before his untimely passing just last month, that Latin American heritage month would be a meaningful way to remember, celebrate, and educate fellow Canadians about a unique and important element of our country's significant diversity.

I urge all members on both sides of the House to support Bill S-218.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)