The Honourable Senator Thanh Hai Ngo was appointed to the Senate on September 6, 2012, by the Right Honourable Governor General David Johnston on the advice of the Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Senator Ngo immigrated to Canada in 1975 following the fall of Saigon and the rise of the communism in Vietnam. He is the first Canadian of Vietnamese origin to sit in the Senate. In Parliament, Senator Ngo continues to advocate for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and to continues to be a champion against oppression in Vietnam and around the world.
Senator Thanh Hai Ngo was born January 3, 1947, in Vietnam. He now lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
The Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo received a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Social Sciences from the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) in 1970, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education from the University of Ottawa. Senator Ngo speaks fluent French, English and Vietnamese.
The Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo taught French and English at the French Cultural Centre in Saigon and at the Vietnamese-American Association. From 1966 to 1968, he worked for the Alliance française, teaching French in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Senator also taught in Ottawa for the Carleton District School Board for close to 30 years, beginning in 1976.
From 1971 to 1973, Senator Ngo was Bureau Chief of the press and information office, and spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Saigon. He subsequently served for two years as press attaché and political bureau chief at the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam in Bangkok, Thailand. In his role as diplomatic attaché, the Senator was also a representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The Fall of Saigon
After Saigon fell in 1975 and the Vietnam War ended, Senator Thanh Hai Ngo was forced to leave his native land and flee the Communist regime that had come to power. Like more than 120,000 other Vietnamese refugees who came to Canada at that time, Senator Ngo, his wife and their two children found a warm welcome in their new homeland.
The Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo became a citizenship judge in 2007. As part of his work, he evaluated citizenship applications and determined whether applicants met the requirements of the Citizenship Act. In so doing, he ensured the equal treatment of all applicants and safeguarded the integrity of the citizenship process. Senator Ngo also made presentations promoting citizenship to schools, multicultural groups, community associations and other organizations.
Chairperson of the Employment Insurance Board of Referees
From 2002 to 2007, 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.
Senator Ngo is dedicated to his parliamentary work and is an active member of two standing Senate committees: Human Rights, Foreign Affairs and Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. 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 Senator and citizen, he seeks to raise awareness of human rights violations. The Senator 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 region.
Canadians are justifiably proud of this 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 ethnic cultural communities.
Senator Ngo offers an annual summer internship to give young people an opportunity to discover Parliament and learn more about human rights, the economy, Canadian and international politics, and other issues. This is a unique opportunity for youth to gain work experience and develop valuable communication and administrative skills.
Founder of the International Committee for a Free Vietnam
In 1979, 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.
Awards and Honours
In 1982, Senator 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.
Senator Ngo is 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.