Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, the sudden passing of Senator Enverga was indeed a shock to all of us, and at times such as these, it is so difficult to find adequate words to offer comfort. However, I want the family and friends of Senator Enverga to know how much we sympathize with them in this time of tremendous sorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Friends, this can be a very difficult place to get to know each other on a one-to-one basis, but I have found during my time here that one of the best ways is when you have the opportunity to serve together on one of our committees. This is where I had the privilege to work with and get to know Tobias Enverga.
Senator Enverga joined our Fisheries and Oceans Committee in December 2015. At first I said to myself, “Oh my, a fellow from downtown Toronto on the Fisheries Committee.” I had my concerns, but I need not have worried, because Senator Enverga quickly became engaged in the work of the committee and showed a great interest in everything we were doing.
Then, he told me one day that he had lived in Newfoundland for awhile and that he had loved it. I asked him what he loved the most about his time there, and he quickly answered, “The people. They were so welcoming to me.”
Right then and there, he won me over.
Tobias had a great sense of humour. It is said that we in Newfoundland and Labrador are known to talk fast, but Tobias talked quickly as well, especially when he got excited about something. I said to him one day — half-heartedly — “By, you talks some fast,” and he replied, “Fabian, you don’t go the speed limit yourself.”
On another occasion, we were travelling to Nova Scotia as part of our study on search and rescue and we visited a Coast Guard lifeboat station. The officials there took me, Senator Hubley and Senator Enverga out on one of the fast rescue craft for a demonstration. They allowed me to take the wheel, and the man in charge said, “When we get around the point, pull back on those two levers.” He did not say pull back slowly. When we rounded the point, I pulled back both levers with all of my strength and the boat almost stood up straight in the water.
When everything settled down, Tobias said, “I thought we were going to have to call search and rescue ourselves.”
Friends, Senator Enverga was humble, kind, gracious and always willing to do his part. He was a proud and productive member of the Senate of Canada, and our world is indeed a better place because Tobias Enverga was here. We will miss him dearly.
And until we meet again, my friend, may God hold you in the palm of his hands.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I rise today to honour the life of our dear friend and colleague, the late Honourable Tobias C. Enverga, Jr, whose sudden and tragic death is hard to grasp.
Senator Enverga, the first Filipino-Canadian senator, was appointed to the Senate on September 6, 2012. He was a very active parliamentarian, both inside and outside of the chamber. Over the course of his time in the Senate, he was a member of several standing Senate committees and the sponsor of Bill S-218, now in its third reading, that would designate every October Latin American Heritage Month. He was the co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group and an executive member of the ParlAmericas group. When he wasn’t speaking in the chamber or questioning witnesses in committee, he could be found advocating tirelessly for persons with disabilities, multiculturalism in Canadian society, and community building.
Above all else, Senator Enverga was one of the kindest, sweetest and most good-humoured people I have had the privilege of working with in the Senate. There are many memories of him that come to mind, but there is one in particular that stands out in my mind that I would like to share with you.
In April 2016, Senator Enverga, I, and the other members of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, travelled to Inuit Nunangat to study northing housing. For the entirety of the trip, he was so engaged in the process and our meetings with witnesses, peppering them with questions sprouting from a deeply genuine concern for their unique situation and overall well-being. He also did what a great Senate committee member and humane person does; he just listened, took it all in without any bias or judgment, allowing himself to truly come to understand the situation and move forward with the knowledge necessary to help remedy it in accordance with the people’s desires.
There is a picture of that trip in the halls of Senator Enverga and I all bundled up in our puffy winter jackets. I think it was in Igloolik, as Far North as I’ve ever been, and I’m sure the same for Senator Enverga. He is sitting in the driver’s seat of the snowmobile, happy as a clam. I found out that he loved nature. What an incredible person. Every time I walk by that picture, it warms my heart in memory of the time that we shared on that trip.
That man in that photo is who I will remember, a friend who had great zest for life and who cared deeply for the well-being of those around him.
His funeral this past Monday, at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto, was inspirational, moving and memorable. My sincerest condolences to his wife Rosemer, his three beautiful daughters, and his family.
Honourable Tobias C. Enverga, Jr., rest in peace, dear friend and colleague.