Commentary by: Rodel J Ramos in Mississauga

It seems our Filipino leaders have no vision and no ambition except to lead their small ethnic tribes and followers to socials, beauty contest, religious, sports and yearly traditions that lead to nowhere and no future for our people. While some are involved in politics, we do not seem to know how to play the game and benefit from it. Some of us are already proud to know well known politicians and kiss their ass.

We can’t blame anyone else but ourselves. When you do nothing and just watch your people being abused by the system and politicians, you are to blame. Most of us do not go out and vote and therefore are irrelevant to the system. Yet it is our taxes that make the government work and it is our efforts that make Canada grow. We need good leaders but we are good at doubting, maligning and shooting our leaders who rise above us specially when it comes to money. We do not know how to encourage and reward good leaders who have the our concern and have the expertise to lead and manage. We always doubt their intentions. And then we go to court, spend hundreds of thousands of our money just to prove that we are right.

While other ethnic groups get millions of grants from the Government, we are getting peanuts and our concerns are not being addressed. Our community gets ignored. They approach us only during election time to get our votes. Our community is only good at fiestas and small parties every weekend which only drains the pockets of our people. No wonder we all retire poor. After more than 40 years we can only see a few significant accomplishments and legacies. Yet we claim to be a great people.

We are more than 350,000 Filipino Canadians in Ontario and less than a million in the whole of Canada in a country with less than 35 million population. And we are acting as if we are powerless and being played around by politicians.

We are the most active community with more than 350 organizations in Metro Toronto alone. We have chapters in most of the Churches specially Couples for Christ and Bukas Loob sa Diyos. We even have an organization of Filipino priests. Our Filipino Freemasons, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Rizal, Jaycees, and Rotarians have wide influence in our society. Even our caregivers who work for the rich specially the political leaders have connection and influence. We rejuvenated the Catholic Churches and other religious churches. Our talents and taxes have contributed much to the progress of this country.
Most of us are well educated but our foreign education is not recognized.

It is time we show that we have the power to bring down a government that is not responsive to our needs and concerns and just flatter us during elections. It is also to show that we can make an unknown leader take over the government with our help. The Liberals in power have no room for Filipinos to rise because all their positions are filled. And they show no desire to even appoint our best in any position in the government. They talk about diversity but only appoint the whites.

The Progressive Conservatives under Patrick Brown have accepted Atty. Angely Pacis as their official candidate in Mississauga Centre. She is a lawyer, a journalist and a graduate of Harvard, the daughter of the late Doctor Lydia and Antonio Pacis. She is most qualified to be a Member of the Provincial Parliament and a pride for our people. I am sure with her qualifications, Patrick Brown will give her a portfolio as a Minister when they win.

The Liberals in spite of our years of loyalty to them has never done much for our people. They never appointed any of our people to high positions in government. The Conservatives under former Prime Minister Harper appointed Senator Tobias (Jun) Enverga, and Ontario Supreme Court Judge Steve Corroza and helped the caregivers with cancer who were about to be deported stay in Canada and brought their families here. He brought about the Juana Tejada Law.
The smaller communities have better strategies than us. They can elect their own people into high offices by mere show of strength and manipulations. Look at what happened to Atty. Antonio Villarin in a nomination in Scarborough where he was defeated by a Sri Lankan, a Tamil, a small ethnic community. Shame on us all. We can also have our own representative but we have to know the game, work harder and stand together, otherwise we are powerless and hopeless as a people. We have to cultivate and train potential politicians in our community. It takes years to learn the game. And it needs the whole community to raise a candidate. We have to contribute to the funds and promote them. We have to be there to vote during the nomination and election. We can’t just brag about our greatness but show nothing.

Patrick Brown is our chance to shine. He is close to the Filipino community. He choose to take not just one but three vacations in the Philippines instead of other places. Patrick loves halo halo and even had a Halo Halo Party at Queens Park. He was even inducted by Sir Joe Damasco as member of the Knights of Rizal. He recognizes the talents and strength of the Filipino community.

There is no room for us to grow in the Liberal Party. I understand the loyalty of the Filipinos to the Liberals. Some say because of Pierre Trudeau who opened up Canada to the Filipinos during his time. Did he open Canada to us because of his love for Filipinos or that Canada needed the talents and industry of the Filipinos? We worked hard and paid our taxes for many years. We are not free loaders. It was this contribution that enriched Canada. Even if we owe our gratitude, does it mean we have to serve all our lives with gratitude or servitude?

The Provincial Liberals under Kathleen Wynne wasted millions of dollars with their bad decisions of cancelling the two energy power plants in Mississauga in their incompetence. They sold the Hydro shares and made our electricity so expensive, yet we subsidize electricity in the U.S.

They are not doing anything to bring the cost of housing down. Let’s make this housing crises into job opportunities for Ontarians specially the poor. We are attracting a million immigrants every 3 years and 40% of that goes to Ontario. They should open up lands in farming communities close to Toronto for housing. We should built houses for these people at an affordable rate. Our children will not be able to afford the present real estate prices.


Republished under arrangement with The Philippine Reporter.

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 00:23

Wynne and Jeffery: the Powerful and the Powerless

Commentary by Surjit Singh Flora in Brampton

Kathleen Wynne, the current premier of Ontario, and Linda Jeffrey, the past Wynne Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Brampton’s current Mayor, are a study in contrasts.  

As Ontario’s 25th Premier, Wynne is both at the height of her power and the low depths of popularity. But even with her popularity at below 20 per cent, she remains a powerful politician in control of her cabinet and caucus and with the ability to set and implement her political agenda. 

This is despite Wynne’s now self-admitted mismanagement of our province’s electricity system, which she now concedes has caused such hardship in the province that some are forced to choose between feeding themselves or heating their homes. 

It is a sad reality that Premier Wynne and her Liberals are looking more and more likely to hold on to power in the 2018 election as both the NDP and Conservatives appear to be parties struggling to seize any of the public’s attention, let alone imagination. 

On one hand, Andrea Horwath and her NDP seem to have little ground to stand on, given that the Liberals have all but assumed much of the left’s territory, leaving the NDP with few policy options and little to say. 

And, then, there is Patrick Brown, who with so many opportunities to pillory a Liberal government mired in scandal, continues to squander his opportunities to effectively hold this government to account while failing to be consistent in publicly expressing his own party’s policies and platform. 

The recent by-elections in Ottawa and Niagara were an indictment of an ineffective opposition that bodes well for Wynne going into her pre-election year. 

Contrast Wynne with Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey. Like Wynne, Jeffrey served as an Ontario Liberal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, as well as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  Her predecessor, Susan Fennell, had presided over a virtual renaissance in Brampton. 

During her tenure as Mayor, Brampton saw major investments in public infrastructure, and a massive $300 million expansion of public transit funded jointly by all three levels of government despite the fact that, at the time, there was no formal program in place from the Federal and Provincial governments to fund it. 

All of that travelling to Ottawa paved the way for the single largest provincial/federal investment in Brampton’s history, but was ultimately part of what I have always believed to be an organized campaign to run her out of office. 

Her frequent travel was at the heart of unfounded accusations, innuendo and vicious allegations that lasted all of two years. After having been cleared of all but two ridiculously minor issues just days prior to the 2014 municipal election, Fennell lost to Jeffrey, who promised to clean up City Hall. 

Two years later, under Jeffrey’s leadership, Brampton's reputation has sunk to new lows. Jeffrey presides over a fractious Council that cannot agree on anything.  An LRT line that had unprecedented public support was defeated despite over $300 million in approved provincial funding. 

A search for a new chief administrative officer attracted only one candidate, who, since being hired has been on a rampage at City Hall that has seen virtually the entire senior management fired, drawing comparisons to a mini “reign of terror” with blood-soaked corridors and a civil service in disarray. 

And even when she wins, Jeffrey loses.  After recently scoring a coveted nod from her former Liberal government colleagues to locate a university in Brampton, it was revealed that even that effort is plagued with a lack of organization and little in the way of a plan, leaving Council slack-jawed, asking, “What do we do now?”

Wynne and Jeffrey are Liberals, but complete opposites: Wynne is powerful and blessed with a weak opposition; Jeffrey, powerless and cursed with a fractious and ineffective Council. 

But both have one thing in common: they both need to be replaced and 2018 can’t come soon enough.

Brampton-based Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer. 

Published in Politics

by Thomas Lukaszuk (@) in Edmonton

They came and grabbed what they wanted. It broke my heart. I was 12 when I had to open up my apartment and give away all of my toys. They took what they wanted. It was hard to let all of it go, but there was a weight limit on what I could take to Canada. I ended up taking one toy tank, my beloved stamp collection and a Polish book given to me by my Grade 7 teacher. I still choke up remembering it: she told me to never forget my language. And I didn’t. That book still is one of the most precious things I own.

My mother, my five-year-old brother Adam (who packed his teddy bear), and I left communist Poland in December of 1982 to join my dad, a sailor, who defected to Canada many years before.

My political aspirations were spurred by this time in Poland. My mom worked with the Solidarity movement to undermine the communists. I was forced to learn Russian in school, and helped hand out underground leaflets. When I came to Canada, first in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and then Edmonton … it didn’t take long before the political bug hit again. I started volunteering for a PC (Progressive Conservative) candidate at just 16. Then, I ran as a candidate in the provincial election in 2001, and was the first Polish-born person to be elected to a Canadian legislature. [I talked extensively about growing up in Poland and my family’s defection to Canada with reporter Jeremy Lye, the audio of which can be found below]

Now, I am running for the leadership of the party I joined so many years ago. If this campaign is successful, I would be the first foreign-born premier in the province in almost 80 years. It tells you what a welcoming place this is, that an immigrant who came with nothing could be seeking the highest provincial office. It is absolutely overwhelming and humbling sometimes when I think about it.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]I am not the candidate that is endorsed by the elite, and I am proud of that.[/quote]

Fighting Ottawa

Over the years, I have held cabinet positions in the education, post-secondary education, immigration, and employment portfolios. My work has included expanding provincial government programs to help new Canadians get their credentials and experience recognized, bringing employers in to do job fairs in welfare offices, and advocating for increases to Provincial Nominee programs so more temporary foreign workers can get their permanent residence.

[youtube height="315" width="560"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW3R8VDiMpA[/youtube]

I am also vowing to fight Ottawa over changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program, which has left many Alberta businesses without workers and workers without stability. The TFW program has never been ideal because Alberta needs permanent immigrants. We need people to come to this place, do the jobs that others are not available to do or are not willing to do, become Canadians, invest themselves in our communities and have the same opportunity that Canada has given me and my family. The current program doesn’t do that.

Being an immigrant has shaped my experiences and the way I see life. My parents protested against entrenched authority. I was told by the communists what my opinion was, and was advised not to ask questions. Today, I have gone very far in the other direction. I’ve never been afraid to ruffle a few feathers. That includes speaking out against some spending decisions made by the former Premier, and calling on my political colleagues to earn back Albertans’ trust. I am not the candidate that is endorsed by the elite, and I am proud of that. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The TFW program has never been ideal because Alberta needs permanent immigrants.[/quote]

My priorities

I recognize that Canada, and Alberta in particular, is a land of opportunity. There is a great education system, there are jobs for anyone who wants to work, communities are safe, and there is a high quality of life.

As the campaign unfolds, I am identifying economic, social, financial, and ethical priorities for a government under my leadership. I believe that creating opportunities for people to be their best is an important role for government. I want everyone to have the opportunities I had – a chance to learn, to feel welcomed in the community, to find a job, and to start a family. I am lucky to be here, but it takes more than luck to make a province successful.

There are three candidates running for the leadership, and only members of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives can vote.  The voting takes place September 5 and 6, with ballots being cast online, by telephone, and in person.

My campaign website is VoteThomas.ca.

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Published in Politics

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