Latin American Heritage Month Act

An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month


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


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

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


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


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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Accordingly, pursuant to order made earlier today, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill S-218 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
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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.

The House resumed from June 13 consideration of Bill S-218, An Act respecting Latin American Heritage Month, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of Motion No. 1.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our colleague from Calgary Midnapore for a very heartfelt intervention. I think I have just scrapped my entire speech because of what our colleague has mentioned.

It brought me back to growing up in the Cariboo and what our thoughts and dreams were as kids. I was one of the those kids who wanted to be a hockey player and to move on. However, the reality was, we were probably going to become a logger or a farmer, because that is what we did, and that is what we do very well in the Cariboo.

Bill C-69 bring us back to yet another failed election promise of the Liberals and to some of what we have mentioned throughout this House over recent days, weeks, and months. When the member for Papineau was campaigning in 2015, he talked about letting debate reign, yet here we sit.

This is the 44th time allocation that has been imposed on this House, meaning that the members of Parliament on the opposition side, and the Canadians who elected them, have not had the full opportunity to present their feelings about what the government is doing, whether it is on Bill C-69, Bill C-59, Bill C-71, or Bill C-68.

Thank goodness that the Standing Orders dictate that private members' bills cannot be time allocated, and our late colleague, Senator Enverga's private member's bill, Bill S-218, has had the full breadth of comments and support.

Bill C-69 seeks to reverse the 2012 changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. I will bring us back again to the promise from the member for Papineau, or one of the Liberals, who said that the government would undertake a full review of laws, policies, and operational practices when it comes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

There are a number of people, groups, and organizations that have serious concerns over what Bill C-69 proposes. Our hon. colleague has mentioned, and it has been mentioned before, that most notably the legislation says it intends to decrease the timelines for both major and minor projects. Unfortunately, there are a myriad of ministerial and Governor in Council exemptions that can be exercised to slow down approvals.

What Bill C-69 represents is not a further clarification of the rules and regulations so that project proponents and those who are trying to enforce the act know where they stand, but rather it muddies the waters. What we have heard time and again, what the committee heard time and again, was that it was a wait and see. There was a lot of concern, and indeed those very groups, the environmental groups, that the Liberals campaigned to and got their vote are now saying that it does not meet the standards.

We have seen this over and over again with the government. It likes to say it has consulted with Canadians, and its Liberal members stand with their hand on their heart and talk about how important consultation is. Yet we know, time and again, as it is with the cannabis legislation, the Liberals are rushing legislation through without fully looking at some of the concerns that have been brought forward by the groups, the organizations, and the stakeholders who are going to be most impacted.

Let us talk about the Arctic surf clam in my file. I cannot stand up and do a speech nowadays without bringing up this injustice. The minister was given the authority and the discretion to go in and implement policy, without anybody checking how this would impact the stakeholders, and without the minister consulting about how that policy would impact those on the ground, the stakeholders, whose livelihoods truly depend on the Arctic surf clam fishery. These are some of the concerns that we have.

When the member for Papineau was campaigning, he said that omnibus bills were done for, and yet here we are again debating another 400-page piece of legislation.

He also talked about maybe having a small deficit of $10 billion. We now know that it will not be our children but our grandchildren who will see a balanced budget, because of the Liberal government's spending.

Bill C-69 represents more broken promises, and it does nothing to give confidence to industry. We know at this time that foreign investment is fleeing our nation at record levels. The CEO from Suncor recently spoke to Bill C-69 and said that it had absolutely put a nail in the coffin of Canadian investment in industry.

The government would like everyone to believe that it knows best and that the Ottawa-developed policies have the best intentions for Canadians, yet the Liberals are not listening when Canadians are speaking. They are not allowing members of Parliament to stand and bring the voices of Canadians to Parliament.

It would not be one of my speeches if I did not remind the House and Canadians that the House does not belong to me, and it sure as heck does not belong to those on the government side. It belongs to Canadians. All 338 members of Parliament and the Canadians who elected them deserve to have a say and to have their voices heard. When the government is forcing time allocation on pieces of legislation that fundamentally are going to have an impact on Canadians' lives, Canadians deserve to have a say.

Industry is shaken at the government's lack of consultation and lack of understanding on how we are moving forward. A good friend of mine, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, asked our colleague from Calgary Midnapore about the industry's lack of confidence. Is it the carbon tax and the fact that the government refuses to tell Canadians how much it is going to be? Is it Bill C-69, the regulatory environment, that is shaking the confidence of the industry? Is it other legislation that is shaking the confidence of industry, or is it all of the above?

I would offer one more. The Prime Minister, in one of his earliest speeches to the world, spoke about how Canada was going to be known more for its resourcefulness than for its natural resources. The Liberals have waged war against our energy sector from day one. He said he wished the government could phase out the energy sector sooner and apologized for it.

Canadians and the energy sector, our natural resource industry, deserve a champion. The Minister of Natural Resources has said that it is about time our forestry producers and our energy producers got in line with what the world is doing in terms of technology and sustainable harvesting.

Whether it is our softwood lumber producers, our oil and gas producers, our fishermen on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, or our farmers, Canada has some of the best, if not the best, in terms of technology and harvesting. They are leading the way. They just need a champion. Guess what? They will have that in 2019, when the Conservatives regain the right side of the House.

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 11:10 p.m.
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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 / 10:55 p.m.
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John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I came to Canada as an immigrant, and I am one of many in this chamber who have been fortunate to be welcomed here to contribute to our society. Few countries in the world are as open and accepting to people who come from other countries to settle and make a new life for themselves as our country is. The Canadian policy of multiculturalism is a great success when it comes to allowing for, and celebrating, the various cultural backgrounds and languages we have.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:45 p.m.
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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 / 10:25 p.m.
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Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Member spoke in Spanish]


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

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

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

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

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

Latin American Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2018 / 10:15 p.m.
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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 / 9:55 p.m.
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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 / 9:35 p.m.
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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 / 9:15 p.m.
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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 / 9:05 p.m.
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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 / 8:55 p.m.
See context


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 / 8:45 p.m.
See context


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.