Hon. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary Forest Lawn, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed my pleasure to rise and speak to this motion. I would like to thank the member for Scarborough Centre for bringing forward this motion, which all of us completely support.
Before I start, I would like to pay tribute to my former colleague, Senator Tobias Enverga, the first Filipino Canadian senator, who was ultimately dubbed the pride of the Philippines in this Parliament. We will continue to miss him.
For 21 years, the Filipino community in my riding has been my strongest supporter. I would like to mention to my hon. colleague that she forgot to mention Calgary when she mentioned every other city. We have a very dynamic community in Calgary, and I have been lucky enough to be honoured and privileged to have this strong support. As a matter of fact, I am considered an honorary Filipino in my community.
I would like to recognize a few of the great Filipinos in my riding who have supported and continue working for the community: Ernie Amante; Elvie Valeroso; Roselyn Bernardo; Bill Bernardo; Melba Buenaventura; and most important, the Diamond Seniors Club, which every year hosts a lot of festivals for seniors. I am always honoured and privileged to be invited to its functions. As everyone has said unanimously in this House, every time a Filipino festival is held, it is full of joy and laughter.
Let me say, as my hon. colleague mentioned, that in 2015, the Filipino community became the largest community of permanent residents in this country. As a matter of fact, when I accompanied former prime minister Harper on his visit to the Philippines, he mentioned that Tagalog is the fastest-growing language in Canada.
As I have stated, the Filipino contribution to our country is immense, and we are extremely happy that it forms a part of the great multi-ethnic mosaic of Canada.
I made two other visits to the Philippines during my tenure as the parliamentary secretary for Foreign Affairs. One of the most notable events I want to bring to members' attention is that there is a community housing project called Telus-GK Village, just outside Manila. It is funded by the Telus Corporation, which is a telecommunications company. It is a great Canadian corporation involved in development projects. I have been to this village, and I see great happiness and children enjoying the facilities Telus has provided.
In 2012, CAE, another great Canadian success story, from Montreal, built an aircraft simulator for Cebu airlines. I had the opportunity to be at the opening ceremony with former president Aquino. We put a time capsule there to be opened in 100 years' time, and my name is there as Canada's representative. As I like telling my Filipino supporters, I am in the soil of the Philippines for the next 100 years.
As I said, we can look anywhere in Canada, in rural Alberta and elsewhere, and we will find Filipino workers. They are recognized as the best workers. During my visit to the Philippines, many Canadian companies were there recruiting Filipinos to come to work. They are hard-working people. I personally have this knowledge, because I have assisted many of them with their permanent residency in our country, and I will continue to do that. Aside from the fact that they make a great contribution, and examples have been given of their hard work and success, they form part of our multi-ethnic country.
Being an honorary Filipino, I always find it a pleasure to go to their festivals. It is great to see the people dancing and singing and the great Filipino culture. Their personalties have great warmth. They embrace the rest of the world, which is a strength of this country. This is why everywhere around the world, whether it is the Middle East, southeast Asia or Hong Kong, Filipinos are some of the most coveted workers. They have come to Canada as nannies. They now come and work in the service industry. Around the world, Filipinos are always welcomed as workers because of their strength.
When I was visiting the Philippines, its minister said that Filipinos living overseas are some of the greatest contributors back to their own country to help develop it, and after its independence, it continues to develop.
The Philippines is also a great partner of Canada in the ASEAN. I attended the ASEAN conference in the Philippines and have seen the contributions made by the Philippines around the world. On many occasions, we have had the opportunity to meet its foreign minister to talk to him about the United Nations.
We are extremely honoured and delighted that Filipinos make such a great contribution to our country. I could go on naming what they have done and continue to do in building our country, and for that I would like to thank this great community very much. I am honoured and privileged to have the title of honorary Filipino in my riding and to have had their support 21 years ago when I first started on this political journey. For that I am very grateful to them.
I want to thank the member for Scarborough Centre for bringing this motion forward. I think there will be unanimous consent for this motion in the House for their great contribution.
Topic: Private Members' Business
Subtopic: Filipino Heritage Month