MP looking into Filipino Heritage Month legislation at the federal level

Community News & Features Nov 24, 2017 at 3:56 pm
MP Michael Levitt (York Centre), School Board Trustee Alexandra Lulka (Ward 5) and Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10) with Senator Art Eggleton standing as guest moderator in the York Centre Town Hall Meeting Sunday November 20 at Downsview Park

MP Michael Levitt (York Centre), School Board Trustee Alexandra Lulka (Ward 5) and Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10) with Senator Art Eggleton standing as guest moderator in the York Centre Town Hall Meeting Sunday November 20 at Downsview Park

By Ysh Cabana

DOWNSVIEW PARK, TORONTO–Michael Levitt, Member of the Parliament for York Centre, said he is ready to take on the opportunity to introduce a bill to recognize the contributions of Filipinos across Canada.

“I can see a number of stories regarding the Filipino heritage month municipally and I think we should be looking at one of those bills. I offered to do it myself,” he said in a town hall meeting Sunday November 20.

Levitt referred to an earlier report by The Philippine Reporter that the Toronto City Council voted in favour of observing June as Filipino Heritage Month every year starting 2018. The motion was tabled by Councillor Neethan Shan (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River) at the behest of constituents in his riding.

“Unfortunately, my private members’ bill number is at 378. We are trying our best and it would take us a few more nights before I could get to that. But I’m happy to discuss with some colleagues…to see if that’s something we can address,” said Levitt.

Several attempts made at different levels of the government have not always been successful though. In 2015, the previous Conservative government introduced Bill C-675 by former York Centre MP Mark Adler. This enactment sought to designate the month of May as “Philippine Heritage Month” annually. The bill did not become a law.

More recently, Member of Provincial Parliament Raymond Cho (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River) filed the similar motion at the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday November 14. It swiftly fell in the wayside during the voting procedure at Queen’s Park.

Cho claimed that the Liberal majority deliberately rejected the proposal. “It is discouraging when people play politics with a simple issue such as this.  Does it have to be a motion introduced by a Liberal member for them to agree? The 350,000 Ontario Filipino deserve better!” said Cho.

Liberal MP Levitt also received criticism from some activists last June for his non-committal response on the issue of human rights violations by Canadian mining companies in the Philippines. For Levitt, however, the Liberals had the experience and policies to better represent the interests of the people in his riding, where the growing Filipino Town is situated.

“The largest immigration stream in Canada for the last three years has been from the Philippines. York Centre in particular is home to “Little Manila” at Bathurst and Wilson, Taste of Manila festival and so many networks of the Filipino community,” said Levitt.

“I can guarantee that we understand how big a part of our community this is moving forward.”