The Conservative party makes their presence known at the Filipino festival
The following column appeared in 24 Hours newspaper this week...
Last Saturday morning while standing in my backyard, I could hear the swelling sound of drums coming from nearby Fraser Street. I put down the garden hose and wandered over to discover Vancouver’s first-ever Filipino Cultural Street Parade with thousands of participants. Looking north and south I saw at least ten blocks worth of banners, parading youth and adults, drummers and traditional dancers.
I also witnessed the obligatory presence of politicos. There was the BC NDP’s Mabel Elmore, the first person of Filipino heritage to be elected as an MLA. The local MP Don Davies was also present wearing the traditional Filipino barong-style men’s shirt.
The local federal Liberal party candidate Wendy Yuan also worked the crowds hard. And Vancouver’s reigning Vision party was there with a booth and a proclamation from the Mayor declaring August 14th as Filipino Fiesta Day in our city.
Slowly over this decade Filipinos have become Canada’s largest source of new immigrants, and political parties are waking up to this fact. In particular organizations on the left have already figured this out. The NDP have fostered strong relations with our local Filipino communities. The fact that many Filipino health workers are unionized has helped to build that bond with New Democrats.
Vision Vancouver has also put effort into connecting with the city’s Filipino community. Lara Hondrado is a woman of Filipino heritage recently hired as political staff in the Mayor’s office. The party itself made sure to bring a credible Filipino candidate forward during their nominations for council a couple years back.
By comparison you see little courting of the Filipino community going on by other parties. The BC Liberals appear to have no strategy in place to make inroads with the community, nor does Vancouver’s NPA. Without a plan to embrace Filipinos living and working in our local communities, both parties will struggle to gain power in the long term.
Note the success of the NDP’s Mable Elmore in Vancouver-Kensington last year. Running against a Syrus Lee in a supposedly heavily ethnic Chinese riding, Elmore swept Lee by about 5000 votes.
The misperception about the Filipino community is that because it is so new to Canada that it is not politically engaged. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Unlike on the Chinese mainland, there is a long tradition of democracy in The Philippines. There are at least four newspapers serving the local Filipino community, keeping them informed on local matters and news from abroad.
While Filipinos are a large part of our local service job sector, according to statistics post-secondary education beckons for the majority of their youth. And many more Filipino immigrants coming to Canada are professionals and technicians, filling much-needed roles in our knowledge economy.
Which is precisely why parties like the BC Liberals and Vancouver’s NPA need to get on the Filipino bandwagon fast.
You wanna bet they’ll be in next year’s parade.
- post by Mike. Note: I originally reported that the Conservative Party had not appeared at last weekend's Filipino Cultural Street Parade. I was contacted by party organizers to let me know that the party was indeed represented at the event.