Enverga, first Filipino-Canadian Senator, dies

CHICAGO (JGL) – The first Filipino-Canadian Sen. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr. died of heart attack on Thursday, Nov. 16, while on a parliamentary trip in Colombia. He would have turned 62 on Dec. 2nd.

In Senator Enverga’s website, his staff James Campbell, Eric Parungao and Annavic Tapar confirmed the passing of Enverga. They said Senator Enverga  “truly cherished the opportunity to serve the people of Canada and did so with great pride.”

In a statement, The Honourable George J. Furey, Q.C., Speaker of the Senate, said: “Senator Enverga – known affectionately as Jun – was appointed to the Senate in September 2012 to represent the province of Ontario. The first Canadian of Filipino descent summoned to the Upper Chamber, Senator Enverga was a proud voice for his community and for the many diverse communities in the Greater Toronto Area.”

Furey added that Enverga “will be most remembered as a fierce advocate for persons with disabilities and a tireless champion for multiculturalism. He was respected by all of his colleagues for his kindness, his warm sense of humour and his unparalleled work ethic.”

Enverga was shocked to learn that he was appointed Senator by Conservative Stephen Harper in 2012 to represent Ontario, which has a huge Filipino Canadian population.

“Senator-For-Life’

He would have been Senator for life while on good behavior upon reaching the age of 75. The annual basic salary of a Canadian senator is $142,400.

According to CBC News, Enverga was in the South American country to attend the ParlAmercas Annual Plenary Assembly, along with Liberal Members of Parliament Robert Nault and Randy Boissonnault, NDP MP Richard Cannings and Conservative MP Bev Shepley.

Sonia Noraeau, a member of Senator Enverga’s staff, told this reporter that funeral arrangement remains pending.

Sen. Larry Smith, a leader of the Conservative Senate caucus, said Enverga earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues.

“He was a man of great conviction and a hardworking parliamentarian,” he said.

Many senators and former Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose flooded Twitter with their sympathies Thursday afternoon.

Conservative MP Erin O’Toole called him a “warm and caring person and a true role model.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted condolences, calling Enverga “a member of our parliamentary family.”

“He was a dedicated senator for Ontario, strong voice for the Filipino community, and a friend to so many on the Hill. May he rest in peace,” Trudeau wrote.

Enverga’s website said the Senator was a co-chair of the Asian Heritage Month Celebration for the Greater Toronto Area and was previously a director of the Canadian Multicultural Council – Asians in Ontario. He founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, for his community work.

Enverga is a member of two Senate Standing Committees, the Aboriginal Peoples (APPA), which is responsible for matters related to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada; and, the Banking, Trade and Commerce (BANC), which examines legislation and studies issues related to banking, insurance, trust and loan companies, credit societies, caisses populaires and small loans companies.

Enverga was born in Quezon province in the Philippines, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Letran College. He earned a Masters Certificate in Project Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University, and a Computer Studies Certificate from Centennial College.

At the time of his appointment, he was a project manager at the Bank of Montreal, where he has worked for more than 30 years. He was the first Filipino-Canadian elected to public office in the City of Toronto, having served as a school trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Collected $410K in damage suit

Enverga recently collected $410,000 in settlement from a libel suit he filed against Balita, a twice-monthly tabloid in Toronto’s suburb of Markham city, Canada, and Balita’s publisher, Tess Cusipag. The paper quoted two Filipino Canadian community leaders, who also had both died, who accused Enverga of not turning over fund-raising monies in the late nineties to their own Filipino Canadian non-profit organization.

In one of his last public appearances he attended during the opening of the Seafood City in Mississauga, Canada on Sept. 28, he was asked by Romy Marquez, one of Balita‘s staff what his most significant accomplishments while in the Senate for the last five years. The media-shy Enverga was at a loss for words and said, “Panalo!, ha, ha, ha!” (I won while laughing). He was obviously referring to the huge defamation award he won against Balita and Cusipag.

Cusipag said, “Siguro (probably) it is God’s will na (already). He (Enverga) still asked for the remaining interest on top of the $410K.  He asked for another $4,700 dahil mali daw ang (because there was a mistake in) calculation. When my lawyer asked if they could drop the case against my children, he came back asking us to pay for the court cost of the law case in the amount of $25K. I said I would not pay that, so my lawyer is fighting it. Now that he is dead, I don’t know what would happen, although the lawyer said he would file a motion to drop the case because the judgment is now paid.”

Enverga leaves behind his wife Rosemer and three daughters, Rystle, Reeza and Rocel.

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