Sen. Enverga, 61, passes away

Community News & Features Nov 24, 2017 at 5:25 pm
SEN. TOBIAS 'JUN' ENVERGA JR.

SEN. TOBIAS ‘JUN’ ENVERGA JR.

By Ted Alcuitas
Philippine Canadian News

The first and only Filipino-Canadian senator died November 16, 2017 in Medellin, Columbia where he was attending a parliamentary meeting.

The Ontario senator was in the South American country for the ParlAmericas Annual Plenary Assembly, along with Liberal MPs Robert Nault and Randy Boissonnault, NDP MP Richard Cannings and Conservative MP Bev Shipley.

Tobias ‘Jun’ Enverga, Jr. was 61. His wife Rosemer Enverga was with him when he died according to his senate office.

“I offer my condolences to the family who is obviously in mourning and in grief right now,” says former MP Dr. Rey Pagtakhan when reached from his home in Winnipeg.

“The community suffered a loss,” adds the retired parliamentarian, the first Filipino-Canadian elected to the House of Commons. The two never met each other.

Enverga was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012 for the province of Ontario. He was first elected  as a school trustee for the Toronto Catholic School Board.

The former banker’s appointment was hailed by the Filipino community but he became a lightning rod for a vicious campaign by his critics.

Among the fiercest criticism came from Toronto’s Balita newspaper which constantly ridiculed the senator for his alleged incompetence in the job.

Balita followed his every activity in Toronto and suburbs and hammered on his alleged failure to account for monies raised in a community project before being appointed to the Senate.

Eventually Enverga filed a libel suit against the paper, its publisher Tess Cuispag and Romeo P. Marquez for defaming him. Last year, Enverga won a judgement against the defendants and was awarded $350,00 in damages, one of the largest awards for libel suits in Canada.

Cusipag went to prison

Cusipag was also sentenced to 21 days in jail for contempt of court for violating the injunction imposed in connection with the libel case. She served 13 days of her sentence.

Enverga migrated to Canada in the early 1980s after earning a bachelor of arts degree in the Philippines. He was then 28 years old.

He took an MA at York University and his tenure at the Bank of Montreal lasted for three decades.

Enverga with wife Rosemer and daughters Rystle, Reeza and Rocel. Photo taken at Rocel’s birthday dinner dance on Oct. 24, 2014.                                                                               (Reporter file photos)

Enverga with wife Rosemer and daughters Rystle, Reeza and Rocel. Photo taken at Rocel’s birthday dinner dance on Oct. 24, 2014.
(Reporter file photos)

Enverga, who hails from Lucena, Quezon province, is survived by his wife Rosemer and three daughters Rystle, Reeza and Rocel.

His office said Enverga died Thursday morning with his wife by his side.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer offered condolences to Enverga’s wife, Rosemer, and three daughters.

“Sen. Enverga was the kind of person who could make anybody feel welcome and valued, a quality that is so important for those who act as ambassadors for communities of new Canadians. He embodied what we all want to see more of in public life,” Scheer wrote in a statement posted to Facebook.

“Sen. Enverga’s commitment to his community, his country, and to Canada’s diversity and pluralism will be deeply missed by his many friends and colleagues in the Senate and in the Conservative family.”

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.

Filipinos from across the country took to social media to offer condolences as the news broke out.

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Funeral Services for the late Senator Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.

On behalf of the Enverga family, we wish to convey the details of the funeral service for the late Honourable Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.

Visitation will be held on Friday, November 24, 2017 from 2:00pm to 9:00pm; on Saturday, November 25, 2017 from 2:00pm to 9:00pm, and on Sunday, November 26, 2017 from 2:00pm to 9:00pm at the Highland Funeral Home – Scarborough Chapel (3280 Sheppard Avenue E., Scarborough).

The funeral service will be held on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 10:00am at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica (65 Bond Street, Toronto). The burial will follow at Christ the King Cemetery (7770 Steeles Avenue E., Markham).

We thank everyone for the outpouring of kindness and support and ask that the privacy of the family continue to be respected at this difficult time.

(Statement from the office of Senator Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.)