Updated: September 14, 2023, 1o:30 A.M.
Can Filipino-Canadians make historic change in Manitoba?
Whichever way the Manitoba elections go on October 3, it will be historic according to pundits.
If the PCs prevail, Heather Stefanson will have become the first woman in the province’s history to lead her party to victory in a general election. If the New Democrats form government, its leader, Wab Kinew, will become the first provincial premier in the country’s history who is a First Nations person. (The country’s territories have had Indigenous premiers and Manitoba has had one Métis premier, John Norquay.)
But with six Filipino-Canadians running, their win could also be a game changer given that most Manitoba elections are won or lost in the urban ridings of Winnipeg where they are running.
The six, two of whom are incumbents, are potential winners in the Filipino-rich voters ridings.
Progressive Conservative incumbent Jon Reyes of Waverley riding is currently Minister of Labour and Immigration, previously the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration, Minister of Economic Development and Jobs. From 2016 to 2021, he was Special Envoy for Military Affairs for the Province of Manitoba. The 51-year-old Reyes was first elected in 2016 as MLA for St.Norbert and reelected in 2019 as MLA for Waverley. The Canadian-born Reyes served 10 years in the Canadian Forces. His wife Cynthia is a nurse and they have two children – wife Cynthia. They have two children, Reyna and Miguel.
Incumbent Malaya Marcelino is running in Notre Dame for a second term. The daughter of former MLA Flor Marcelino, she was first elected in 2019 and became the NDP’s Critic for Labour and Immigration. she immigrated from the Philippines as a child.
Malaya and her husband live in Winnipeg’s West End with their two young children.
Kelly Lagaspi is running as your NDP candidate in Tyndall Park.
Kelly immigrated to Canada in 2000. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of the Philippines. Through her work as a Registered Nurse, she has witnessed how the health care system in Manitoba has deteriorated in the last 7 years, especially through the Pandemic.
Kelly and husband Red raised their 4 children in The Maples. They are a family of Black Belts and run a martial arts school, Winnipeg Sikaran Arnis Academy, where they have trained world class young martial arts athletes who have won World titles.
Kelly has served as a volunteer, Board of Director and Elected Officer in many Community Programs and Organizations such as Manitoba Filipino Street Festival, Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, Filipino Seniors Group of Winnipeg, Philippine Nurses Association of Manitoba and many more.
As part of the Manitoba NDP team, Kelly will fix health care and make your life more affordable.
Jelynn Dela Cruz is running as your NDP candidate in Radisson.
Jelynn is a long-time resident of Radisson and a proud first generation Canadian. When the PCs cut thousands of healthcare jobs, nurses like her mom were left without a safety net. Jelynn knows that many families have stories like hers. That’s why she’s running to represent Radisson families. Jelynn works for L’Arche, a non-profit that creates homes and meaningful employment for people living with disabilities. Jelynn is also a former board member and senator of the University of Manitoba. As the President of the Students’ Union, she worked to improve transit, health coverage, and legal supports for over 25,000 members, while fighting for fair bargaining for faculty.
As part of the Manitoba NDP team, Jelynn will fix health care and make your life more affordable.
Garry Alejo was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada in 2014 with his family. He graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Accountancy with 24 years of combined experience in finance, accounting and business process improvement. He is currently working in the finance department of an airline company, where he also served as a Union Board Member.
Alejo started and organized the Northwest Bear Clan Patrol chapter, with diverse active members from the community. He is also a Board Member of organizations Caring For Our Environment Manitoba and Tyndall Park Community Centre. Additionally, he is an active community advocate in the Philippines; organizing medical and dental missions to remote areas of the country.
“I am so humbled for the opportunity to represent the constituency of Burrows with the Manitoba Liberals. This is my first time to run for a public office but serving the community has always been my passion. I would like to see positive changes in the province that will improve the lives of all Manitobans,” said Alejo. “Please join me and together let us fight for real change in Manitoba.”
Live in urban centres where a lot of these competitive races are playing out
In an interview with CityNews in 2021 during the federal elections, Grant Gonzales with the Filipino Canadian Political Association says there are 37 ridings across Canada where the Filipino Canadian population was larger now than in 2019.
In the riding of Winnipeg North, more than a third of voters are of Filipino descent. How they vote will have an impact on the election outcome.
“Filipino Canadians primarily live in urban centres where a lot of these competitive races are playing out, so where Filipinos are concentrated in particular ridings are going to be consequential in terms of the outcome of the election,” said Gonzales.
“It’s in the interest of all parties, not just the NDP or Liberals, but Greens and Conservatives to target Filipino voters.”
University of Manitoba Political Science Professor Christopher Adams says many ridings, especially ones in Manitoba, could come down to the votes from the Filipino community.
“There are some ridings in which this population can have a significant impact, and in this election, in which every riding counts, if there are 10 or 15 ridings that are influenced by the Filipino Canadian vote, then that could swing, whether it’s Liberals, Conservatives or something involving the NDP.”