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.