On the Matter of Senator Enverga

Opinion & Analysis Apr 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

By Voltaire de Leon


A Canadian senator Patrick Brazeau had four years to either prove he is fit to be senator or that he is a lout. In the Toronto Star this morning, we were treated with the spectacle of this senator   flaming out,  sitting in prison for alleged domestic disturbance. He also made the papers for the insults he levied at Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence who went on a hunger strike in protest of Ottawa’s indifference to native issues. NDP MP Charles Angus said Brazeau may have improperly billed us for living allowances.

I have read the exchanges between the supporters of Enverga  and  his critics from  Balita. My good friend and fellow Rizalist Livvy Camacho  sent me a petition but I decided instead to write my opinion.

At the same time, I consider Tess Cusipag as a good friend and I have very good memories of fighting the Marcos regime alongside Ruben when no other journalist in Canada would take up the cudgels against it. Now Balita’s reputation for fairness and principled criticism is now being tested by several community leaders who are crying foul over the paper’s treatment of Enverga.  The debate concentrates on Enverga being appointed senator  and whether or not he and Mrs. Enverga misappropriated funds as suggested by writers in Balita. The latter part is realy for anyone wants to take that issue to court.

Here is my take on the Enverga controversy. The heated exchange between the two sides is missing the crucial question: why did Prime Minister Stephen Harper make Jun Enverga our senator?

One amongst us has been chosen to one of the highest offices of the land. That is an incredible honour, one that we should feel proud of.  A dozen people in our community  may perhaps  better fit the bill. But, that’s just me. Enverga may well prove to be a good choice so allow him the benefit of the doubt and allow his actions to speak of his character.

I do not know him that well and apart from the possibility that the accusations against him may be true, he seemed to me outgoing and affable.  He now represents us whether we like it or not.  Only the Prime Minister had the power to appoint him. It is a done deal.  Mr. and Mrs. Enverga and their friends may have lobbied but all that is fair in love and politics. But only Harper made the appointment.  Enverga did not appoint himself.

Now, do we really expect  Mr. Enverga to turn down a prestigious seat in the government of Canada and a yearly $130,000 for life and tell the prime minister that he is mistaken; and,  that there are others in the community who should be made senator? Would you?

I repeat,  Prime Minister Stephen Harper made Mr. Enverga senator. But why?  What due diligence did he exercise in choosing Enverga to be senator to represent the  interests of Canadians and the Filipino community?  What categorical imperative motivated him? Why did the Conservatives believe Enverga deserved to be our senator?

Those are questions that Harper must answer. Not Enverga. Yet,  none of the  protesters to  his appointment aimed their criticism at Prime Minister Stephen Harper or identified who in his circle promoted Mr. Enverga and why.

The issue has been debated again and again as to whether or not people should run for the office of senator.  Yet it still remains an appointive one.  A more inclusive and less expensive alternative to elections would be to have a multiparty council –  not the PM — appoint our senators.