- ~ A prank, a rumour, a sarcasm . . . whatever is it, but the talk around town is that at least three community personalities are eyeing a position in the Senate of Canada. The vacancies in the Red Chamber are highlighted with the demise of Philippine-born Tobias Enverga on November 16. Before the tragedy, there were three empty slots for Ontario. Now it’s four. By this time next year, three more would have already retired. Would Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appoint one from the Filipino community? The guessing game is on.
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Three coins in a fountain
Each one seeking happiness
Thrown by three hopeful lovers
Which one will the fountain bless? . . .
– Songwriters: Jule Styne / Sammy Cahn
(Three Coins In The Fountain lyrics Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Imagem Music Inc.)
TORONTO – A new vacancy in the Senate of Canada created by the death of Tobias Enverga Jr. on November 16, 2017, is fueling enthusiasm in the Filipino community, especially among those who seem to view the position as something of an entitlement.
Enverga was one of those representing the province of Ontario, which like Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and the Western province, is allotted 24 seats in the 105-member chamber. The remaining nine seats are shared by Newfoundland and Labrador, and three northern territories.
With his passing, the vacancy to speak for Ontario rises to four. Come 2018, three are set to retire in August, September, and December. The openings are not exactly up for grabs, unlike those in the United States and the Philippines where aspirants compete for votes. Once elected, senators serve a term of six years.
In Canada, senators are appointed by the governor-general who represents the monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) on the advice of the prime minister (currently, it’s Justin Trudeau, head of the Liberal Party). (Background video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8EHGFKIKsw).
Senators sit for up to their 75th birthday, or sooner as in the case of the Philippine-born Enverga who died at age 61, which basically makes the Senate a lifetime job. That kind of tenure plus all the perks are its biggest attraction.
Unconfirmed reports are going around that at least two individuals are eyeing a Senate slot. If a senator is considered a lawmaker in the full meaning of the word, then the two aspirants are way off the mark.
A basic understanding of how the Senate of Canada works is beyond their comprehension, if I may so based on what I personally know about them. They will be a big embarrassment for both the Senate and the constituency they will represent.
A third wannabee may be worth looking into for the promise this aspirant would bring to the Red Chamber. The problem, however, is that this hopeful does not enjoy the support of some sectors owing to past slips.
A friend opines, however, that aspirants for the Senate need not have a background in law or in legislative work to qualify because crafting a law is what members of the House of Commons do.
Recently, the chamber was turned into one big hall for photo ops. Perhaps it was an okay thing to accommodate the tourist in us. But the way it was portrayed by the sponsors in their friendly media outlets as a “take over” did not sound right.
I felt a little bothered that this group was allowed to appropriate the chamber in such manner on the excuse that the country of their birth, the Philippines, was celebrating its independence day. Granted, but why not at Earl Bales Park where a bust of the foremost Philippine hero, Jose Rizal, stands?
It may sound petty but aren’t they Canadians, and if they are, why would they occupy a historic symbol of Canadian sovereignty only to display their conceit?
The two aspirants might just do the same thing, i.e. treat the Senate like it’s a place for joyous reunions and picnics, an avenue to show how vain Filipinos are with their retinue of beauties and photo bombers.
The Senate is not for fiesta or for any Filipino festival even if the community succeeds in securing at least one seat. It’s not a place for karaoke. It’s not a stage for beauty queens. It’s not a place to enjoy the latest fusion of Filipino and Canadian food.
The Senate is the chamber of “sober second thought”, as Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, had defined it, a centre for intelligent discourse.
As a Filipino by birth, I’d be happy to endorse these aspirants, I mean if they were gunning for positions in their respective organizations or town or provincial associations. But for the Senate? That’s another question. #