Updated: November 21, 2017, 8:25 AM

 

Ottawa

Died in Columbia of apparent heart attack

By Ted Alcuitas

The first and only Filipino-Canadian senator died today (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 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 criics.

Among the fiercest criticism came from Toronto’s Balita newspaper who constantly ridiculed the senator for his alleged incompentency for the job.

He was labelled the ‘karaoke senator’ by Balita’s Romeo P.Marquez for his first speech in the senate where he alluded to Filipinos as good karaoke singers.

Balita followed his every activity in Toronto and suburbs and hammered on his alleged failure to account for monies raised by the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF) a charitable organization that he was invovled with before being appointed to the senate.

Senator Enverga with Toronto Mayor Tory and Councillor Pasternak in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

 

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 as awarded $350,00 in damages, one of the largest award 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 and released.

It is not known if the award has already been already paid as of this writing. Queries to Enverga’s senate office and his lawyer were not answered.

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

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

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

 

Breaking: Balita’s Tess Cusipag in jail for contempt of court

Breaking: ‘Balita’ loses appeal to reduce $350,000 libel award

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

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.

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.