MP seeks support for Filipino Heritage Month across Canada

Community News & Features Jan 26, 2018 at 4:11 pm
MPs Salma  Zahid, Arif Virani, Marco Mendocino  with Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly in the  Scarborough Centre Town Hall Meeting January 18 at FV Foods, Lawrence East.

MPs Salma Zahid, Arif Virani, Marco Mendocino with Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly in the Scarborough Centre Town Hall Meeting January 18 at FV Foods, Lawrence East.

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippine Reporter

OTTAWA—”It has already been recognized in the city of Toronto, it’s time we recognize it in Canada. So that in June from coast to coast to coast the community can come together and celebrate Filipino Heritage Month.” said Member of Parliament Salma Zahid (Scarborough Centre) in a town hall meeting January 18.

Zahid sponsored a Private Member’s Motion designated as M-155 in the House of Commons to federally push for June as Filipino Heritage Month.

A written notice was filed in November 2017 and the motion had six other MPs jointly seconding. The support came from Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey-Newton), Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough-Rouge Park), (Willowdale), Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal), Michael Levitt (York Centre) and Frank Baylis (Pierrefonds-Dollard) as of writing.

The process of passing a motion in the House of Commons requires a seconder as “honourary show of support” from any of the MPs. The names of all MPs eligible to sponsor a Private Members Bill or Motion will be drawn to establish an order of precedence. An hour for debate is allotted each day, and 20 names are on the list for debate at a time. When a bill is defeated or passed, more names are added.

“We expect Salma’s name to be added this spring, at which point we will know the date for the first hour of debate,” according to an email from Zahid’s office.

If the motion has been moved, seconded, and proposed by the Speaker of the House, the motion will be read in the words of the mover. Every motion found to be in order and proposed from the Chair is entered in the Journals–the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House.

“My riding has over 14,000 (belonging to the) Filipino community. It is one of the fastest growing communities, the second largest in Scarborough Centre after the South Asians,” said the Liberal MP who is a Pakistani Canadian.

In the 2016 National Household Survey, Scarborough Centre had a population that’s roughly 12 per cent Filipino.

Meanwhile, MP Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville) also expressed her enthusiasm on the motion. “I’m really proud of the fantastic Filipino community,” said Joly who also serves as the Minister of Canadian Heritage. “And of course, we will be supporting anything you do in order to celebrate your heritage.”

For some Filipinos in British Columbia, it’s given why there is a need to support the motion.

“ I’d like to think of it as a leap towards a bigger-scale recognition and an affirmation of the contributions that we Filipinos make in all sectors of Canadian society. It’s one step at a time. I’d like to be happy that we are given this opportunity to help petition for this, to support this motion, and to one day be able to celebrate Philippine Independence Day celebration in June in our city knowing that it is part of the Philippine Heritage Month Celebration all over Canada,” wrote Narima dela Cruz, President of the Surrey Philippine Independence Day Society in an email.

“The biggest challenge would be that it has to be in paper document – there is no online petition (as far as we know), so we have to work hard to have the petition form be disseminated to people – and at such quick time. I’ve been told about this around Christmas time, and I had the unfortunate bout with the really bad flu in the 2 weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year,” she added.

Zahid is hoping to present the completed petitions at the House of Commons in early February.