Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr. was a tireless worker who brought passion, selflessness and energy to all he did, whether as a senator or advocate for the most vulnerable members of society, his Senate colleagues said.
Known affectionately as "Jun," Senator Enverga was the first Canadian of Filipino descent to be appointed to the Senate and was a proud voice for his community and others in the Greater Toronto Area.
Senator Enverga died Thursday, November 16 while on a parliamentary trip to Colombia, with his wife Rosemer at his side.
Born in the Philippines, the 61-year-old senator represented Ontario in the Senate since 2012.
“Of his many contributions, Senator Enverga will be most remembered as a fierce advocate for persons with disabilities and a tireless champion for multiculturalism,” said Speaker of the Senate George J. Furey. “He was respected by all of his colleagues for his kindness, his warm sense of humour and his unparalleled work ethic.
“In every aspect of his parliamentary work, Senator Enverga was not shy about sharing his deep love for Canada,” added the Speaker. “It has been a privilege to serve with him and I know he will be dearly missed by everyone in the Senate family.”
Senator Enverga was the first Filipino-Canadian elected in the City of Toronto. He served as a Catholic school board trustee in Toronto and became known in the Toronto region for launching the Philippine-Canadian Charitable Foundation.
Senator Enverga was the pride of the Canadian-Filipino community and although a proud Canadian, he kept close to his cultural roots.
He was co-chair of the Canada-Philippine Interparliamentary Group and inaugurated the annual Filipino Independence Day flag-raising on Parliament Hill.
During his years at the Senate, he was a member of several standing committees and participated in a variety of important studies on issues ranging from First Nations northern housing to Maritime Search and Rescue operations.
Additionally, he was an executive member of the ParlAmericas group and invested his energy in forging closer ties with parliamentarians from throughout Latin America and helping them to strengthen democracy and governance through political dialogue and parliamentary cooperation.
“I always believe that multiculturalism is one of the greatest strengths of Canada,” said Senator Enverga in an interview with SenCAplus.
“Being a Canadian of Filipino and Asian origin, I have that unique opportunity to represent a broader group of people, not just those in the Province of Ontario, but also members of the Filipino and Asian-Canadian communities all over Canada.”
“The Senate has come to bolster representation of groups often underrepresented in Parliament, such as Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and women. We, as visible minorities and Asian senators, have a responsibility and the ability to share and contribute our unique values, skills, and culture to complement and enhance various Senate roles and duties for the country as a whole.”
Senator Enverga left three unfinished pieces of Senate business: A motion that senators sing O Canada each Tuesday — matching a similar motion passed by the House of Commons in 1995.
As well, he sponsored a bill, now in its third reading — Bill S-218 — that would designate every October Latin American Heritage Month.
Finally, Senator Enverga had just introduced Bill S-242, which would provide a protection for Canadian consumers from deceptive marketing practices.
While a proud Canadian, Senator Enverga championed aid efforts when the Philippines was hit by typhoons and helped many deserving, hard-working Filipinos to come to Canada and live the dream that he considered privileged to have lived himself.
"Senator Enverga was a dedicated parliamentarian who served the Senate and Canadians admirably since his appointment in 2012. I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, and I share the gratitude of many for Senator Enverga’s committed service to his country."
Senator Peter Harder
Government Representative in the Senate
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our colleague and friend, Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr.
Senator Enverga will be greatly missed. He was a man of great conviction and a hardworking parliamentarian. Through his efforts in the Chamber and across Canada, Senator Enverga had earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues and fellow citizens.
Senator Enverga was the first Filipino-Canadian senator. He was the first Filipino-Canadian elected to public office in the City of Toronto, having served as a school trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. He also founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his community work.
On behalf of the Senate Conservative Caucus, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to his wife Rosemer, their three daughters, Rystle, Reeza and Rocel, as well to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time."
Senator Larry W. Smith
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
"The Independent Senators Group (ISG) is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of the Honourable Tobias C. Enverga Jr.
A leader in his community, Senator Enverga inspired those around him through his volunteer community engagement and advocacy work at home and abroad. He and his wife Rosemer founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation in 2010 with the vision of assisting efforts in areas such as poverty alleviation, providing essential necessities of life, and education.
Elected as the first Filipino-Canadian to public office in Toronto, Senator Enverga became the first person elected to the Toronto Catholic District School Board who was a visible minority. He continued to serve his community and public interests upon his Senate appointment in 2012.
The members of the ISG wish to extend their deepest condolences to Senator Enverga’s family and friends."
The Independent Senators Group
"I am saddened by the sudden death of our colleague, Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr.
He will be remembered not only for his hard work and his commitment to public service, but also for his love of the country and his strong advocacy for persons with disabilities.
On behalf of the Independent Senate Liberals, I extend sincere condolences to his wife, Rosemer, his three daughters, Rystle, Reeza and Rocel, and his extended family and friends."
Senator Joseph A. Day
Leader of the Independent Senate Liberals