The Honorable Thanh Hai Ngo was appointed to the Upper House on September 6, 2012 by the Right Honorable Governor General David Johnston on the recommendation of the Right Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper. A member of the Conservative Caucus, the Honorable Thanh Hai Ngo was the first Vietnamese-Canadian senator to serve in the Senate of Canada.
Former Senator Ngo immigrated to Canada in 1975 after the fall of Saigon and the coming to power of the Vietnamese communist government. Since then, he has been a strong advocate for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law – and a strong supporter of the struggle against communist oppression. His professional experience includes his appointment as a Judicial Officer and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Employment Insurance Board of Referees. He has also pursued a career in the field of education as a teacher.
Former Senator Thanh Hai Ngo was born on January 3, 1947 in Vietnam. He currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario.
The Honorable Thanh Hai Ngo graduated from the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) with a degree in Social Sciences and Humanities in 1970, and a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education from the University of Ottawa. He is fluent in French, English and Vietnamese.
The Honorable Thanh Hai Ngo was a specialist educator and taught English and French at the French Cultural Center in Saigon and at the Vietnamese-American Association. He also worked for the French Alliance from 1966 to 1968 as a teacher specializing in French teaching in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Beginning in 1976, he taught at high school and middle school levels for nearly 30 years in Ottawa for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
From 1971 to 1975, former Senator Ngo was the head of the press and information bureau, as well as spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Saigon. He was then press attaché for two years and head of the political office at the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam in Bangkok, Thailand. As a diplomatic attaché, he was also a United Nations representative on the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
After the fall of Saigon in 1975 and the end of the Vietnam War, former Senator Thanh Hai Ngo had to leave his homeland to the communist regime then in power. With his wife and two children, he found refuge in Canada, which welcomed him with open arms, along with 120,000 Vietnamese refugees.
From 2002 to 2007, former Senator Ngo was Chairperson of the Employment Insurance Board of Referees, an independent and impartial administrative body. His work involved reviewing appeals by employment insurance applicants and ensuring compliance with the Employment Insurance Act.
The Honorable Thanh Hai Ngo was appointed a Citizenship Judge in 2007. As part of his work, he was responsible for assessing citizenship applications and verifying that applicants meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act. Through his duties, he guaranteed fairness to all individuals and ensured the integrity of the citizenship process; he was also responsible for promoting citizenship to various institutions such as schools, multicultural groups, and community groups.
The Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo was dedicated to his parliamentary work and was an active member of two standing Senate committees: Human Rights and Foreign Affairs and International Trade. These important committees are engines of change in Canadian society.
The Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo is an ardent advocate for human rights nationally and internationally, especially in Vietnam. As a former Senator and citizen, he sought to raise awareness of human rights violations. He works for peace, democracy and justice in Vietnam, and promotes these values in the hope that the winds of change will bring freedom to the country.
Canadians are proud of their country’s pluralistic society, where all citizens can participate regardless of their ethnicity, religion or country of origin. As the first Vietnamese-Canadian senator, the Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo promotes social harmony through his many engagements with minority and cultural communities.
Former Senator Ngo offered an annual Summer Internship to give young people an opportunity to discover Parliament and learn more about human rights, and Canadian and international politics, among other issues. This was a unique opportunity for youth to develop their professional skills and meet like-minded peers.
In 1979, former Senator Ngo and the Honourable David Kilgour, former Minister of State of Canada for Asia and the Pacific, formed the International Committee for a Free Vietnam. The committee advocates for human rights and is composed of parliamentarians from Canada and around the world.
In 1982, Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo received the Citation for Citizenship from the Minister of State for Multiculturalism. Between 1980 and 1982, he served as President of the Vietnamese Community Association of Ottawa and continues to be an active member of various Vietnamese community organizations in Canada and around the world. He was also the founder and President of the Ottawa Vietnamese Non-Profit Residence Corporation, an organization that supports greater access to decent housing for low-income families.