TOBIAS ENVERGA, JR.: First Fil-Canadian Senator appointed
By Dyan Ruiz
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has chosen Tobias C. Enverga Jr. to be the first Filipino-Canadian Senator in history.
Harper announced on Sept. 7 that Enverga, who is better known as “Jun,” will be among five new Senators appointed to the upper house of the Canadian Federal Parliament.
“We are proud to have Mr. Enverga join the Senate of Canada,” said the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Julie Vaux. “Mr. Enverga has been an excellent representative of his local community in Toronto and the Filipino community in Canada, bringing an outstanding record of significant accomplishments.”
“His talents and experience will bring a positive voice to our Upper Chamber, and help to advance our government’s shared goals and commitments towards growing the economy, and advancing prosperity for all Canadians,” Vaux continued.
“I was completely shocked when they told me about the appointment,” said Enverga in an interview hours after the announcement. “I couldn’t believe that this was happening.”
Enverga is a prominent member of the Filipino-Canadian community in the GTA. In Oct. 2010 he was elected to be a Catholic School Board Trustee in Scarborough. The 56-year-old has been involved in many community organizations. Most notably he is the former President of the Philippine Independence Day Council, who hosts the annual Mabuhay Festival, and is co-chair of the Asian Heritage Month celebration in the GTA.
He is a founder and advisor to the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation, where his wife, Rosemer A. Enverga, is the Executive Vice President. The foundation’s website says they have assisted in sending over half a million dollars worth of medical equipment to various Philippine hospitals and have built 33 houses for poor families in the Philippines.
“I always advocate for charity wherever I go. So for every organization I join I make sure they have a cause to build on– not just social and cultural, but they also should be a charity,” Enverga said. “It’s important because we’re so blessed here in Canada and we should share all the time– have fun and share.”
Enverga has received numerous awards including the Queen’s 60th Diamond Jubilee medal of distinction. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics and an MBA from Letran College in the Philippines and a Masters Certificate in Project Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.
He is an IT Project Manager at the Bank of Montreal where he has worked for more than 30 years starting at “the bottom as a cheque encoder,” he said. This is first and only company he has worked since arriving in Canada in February 1981.
Enverga has three daughters, Rystle, Reeza and Rocel.
The Senate was created as part of Canada’s parliamentary system at the country’s founding in 1867 and is modeled after the British government’s House of Lords. The Senate is intended to provide a “sober second thought” to check the power of the elected lower house of Parliament, the House of Commons. However, the Senate rarely defeats a bill that House of Commons approved. The Senate can introduce bills for proposed laws, but not bills that involve money and taxation.
In recent years, appointments to the Senate have acted to balance representation of minorities, women and other groups under-represented in the House of Commons.
It’s common practice that appointments to the Senate have also been used as rewards for campaign support of the ruling political party. With these new appointments, 62 of the Senate’s 105 seats are Conservative.
Senators serve until the mandatory retirement age of 75.
One of Harper’s campaign promises in 2006 included Senate reform, and he has suggested having an elected Senate or abolishing the Senate all together. He has come under criticisms from the NDP for not passing any reforms and continuing to appoint supporters to the Senate.