Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to one of our own, a colleague who left us much too soon, the Honourable Tobias C. Enverga, Jr., who passed away on November 16 of this year.
During his five years in the Senate, our colleague was an active, engaged and enthusiastic participant in the chamber and in committee. He brought joy and good humour to his work. Senator Enverga was a warm and friendly man, and we all feel his loss keenly.
At his funeral mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto, parish priest and good friend Father Ben Ebcas said of Senator Enverga that he lived a life filled with love and a sense of mission — a very kind, caring, down-to-earth person — and he said Filipinos are eternally grateful that Senator Enverga did his best to fill the world with love.
Senator Enverga was very proud to be the first Filipino-Canadian senator. He used his position as a senator to advocate for our multicultural communities. As a Filipino immigrant, Senator Enverga cherished the opportunity that he was given to make a better life for himself and his family in Canada. With that in mind, he worked tirelessly to ensure this same opportunity was afforded to many deserving immigrants who now also call Canada home. He also used his time as a senator to draw attention to some of the most overlooked people in our society, including caregivers and people with disabilities.
Before being named to this place in 2012, upon the recommendation of our former Prime Minister the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Tobias Enverga was already a trailblazer with a history of public service. In 2008, he founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation, to assist various community charitable needs. In 2010, he became the first Filipino-Canadian elected to public office in the city of Toronto, as a trustee of the Toronto Catholic District School Board. He was also the very first visible minority to be elected to this board.
For all these reasons and more, Filipino-Canadians all over our country loved “Senator Jun,” as they affectionately called him, but he was especially loved by those in the Greater Toronto Area, where he made his home.
Our thoughts today are with Senator Enverga’s family, especially his wife Rosemer and their three daughters, Rystle, Rocel and Reeza, who will miss him more than I could ever adequately express. Tobias and Rosemer were truly a team, devoted to one another. It is my hope that their deep Christian faith will sustain his family in the days ahead.
On behalf of all Conservative senators, and all senators in this house, I extend sincere condolences to Senator Enverga’s family, friends and staff. I want them to know that we feel their loss, too, and will miss him greatly.