Leaders need vision
Gaining political influence in Canada — Part 4
We must start planning for our political and economic future here to leave a legacy for our children and future generations. If we can only plant the seed of these ideas and let them germinate, then our people’s future is on the road to progress.
Our proud leaders should start forming visions for our people, map a future path, and divert the focus of our people from the fiestas to something more worthwhile. They should also stop fighting each other and instead fight for each other.
We have talented leaders, well educated, hard working, dedicated, want to serve their people, capable of self sacrifice, concerned for our well being, principled, but they are trapped in the traditional social and cultural activities that lead us nowhere but an endless fiesta. They also seem to have small dreams but with big egos and highly sensitive, yet insensitive to the feeling of others. Remember that we are all humans, capable of being hurt, also hungry for attention and importance.
There are a few self appointed guardians who are always looking for negatives among the people they do not like. Instead of using their brilliance to build the community, they ruin it. What a waste of talents and lives.
Senator Claro M. Recto said, “In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is the king.” It seems that in our community, the one eyed man follows the blind. Organizations follow the majority rule principle and if most of the members are simple minded the mediocre rules.
Our present leaders seem to lack the vision. They are good in criticism and do not know how to inspire, motivate and reward the achievers among their followers. Many times volunteers are even suspected of their intention of helping in the community.
There were attempts to organize the community for politics in the past with Mel Catre and others forming the National Congress and joining political parties. He also formed the Filipino Liberals with Ricky Castelvi and others. Mel tried for the nomination in Don Mills riding as an MPP but lost. He however was appointed as one of the Directors of Ontario Place by former Ontario Premier David Peterson. Ricky was appointed Citizenship Judge for a while.
We had the late Former Governor of Pangasinan Tito (Primitivo) Primicias who was an adviser of Tony Ruprect who became MPP of Trinity-Spadina Riding. Tito was the most veteran among our politicians, run for the Philippine Senate but lost and left for Canada in frustration.
Cris Benedicto was close to Mike Harris of the Conservative Party at one time and invited leaders of the community to Mike’s office before the election but we never heard from him or saw him after they won until the next election when he needed our support again. It seems that some leaders are just there to use their people for their own selfish gains not for common interest.
We should map a path for our people’s future. We should re-educate our people to get rid of our “tinge” mentality and our focus on small time projects and pulling each other down, the mentality of a servant, our inferiority complex, colonial mentality, our lack of teamwork and unity, good in division and subtraction instead of focusing on addition and multiplication. We have lots of work to do in the political field and we seem not to be serious about it or are doing it the wrong way. Let us bring back the bayanihan spirit, the pride of the Filipino heroes and martyrs.
Let us focus our energies, talents, resources and money in politics and business where there is more future for our people, not the traditional social activities.
We had some brave souls in the past who run for politics. A few succeeded like former MP Rey Pagtakhan of Winnipeg, Art Viola, former Lord Mayor of Niagara on the Lake, Alex Chiu, a Councilor of Markham and three School Trustees Marlene Mogado, Ric Falco, and Tobias Enverga Jr. who was recently appointed Senator.
There were other serious and not too serious attempts to enter politics like Cheryl San Juan who run as MPP under the Green Party in Etobicoke Centre; Nerissa Tique Carino, NDP for Pickering-Scarborough East, a Miss Santos and Tessie Jew in Trinity Spadina riding. Winston Lim, Luz del Rosario, Barbara Hazel Tabuno, Louroz Mercader, Ralph Bunag run for councilors of Mississauga, and Andy Balintong run against Hazel MaCallion for Mayor of Mississauga, Ramon (Mon) Datol run for Mayor of Richmond Hill, Linda Javier for Trustee in Mississauga and others.
Most of them lost probably because they had no organization, lack promotion, no experienced campaign managers and team to back them up, political strategies and marketing, do not have enough money and of course the Filipino Canadian community did not support them. We are not ready for politics and this is a challenge to the best of us to organize our people for that purpose. They were not able to penetrate other ethnic communities or the mainstream, have little or no basic knowledge of Canadian politics etc. But as long as we keep on destroying the image of our leaders, the bright boys will not come to help.
Mayor Art Viola said that his secret is that he is good at listening to people; he consults them on major problems, is a negotiator and has a practical sense. He was lucky that the people did not trust politicians then in Niagara on the Lake. Only a handful of Filipinos live there at that time and it might have been a blessing.
You must have the financial backing to enter into politics or know how to raise the funds otherwise forget it. The community has not matured to realize the value of having our own elected officials. You must know the issues, have a stand on them, propose solutions to problems and can debate or discuss such issues. Is it the economy, jobs, investment, seniors, youth, healthcare, immigration, peace and order, education, poverty or infrastructure that matters most to the voters in your riding?
A candidate must at least be a good speaker, has the charisma, and has the physical appeal and the stamina to at least visit thousands of homes. He must know how to listen, inspire, and motivate his /her audience.
They must know the value of promotion and have some strategies on how to reach their voters. Just handing out simple flyers and posting signs is not enough. People are tired of those and you have to attract their attention and be remembered.
Knowing the composition of the riding – the ethnicity (ethnic voters, mainstream voters, youth, seniors, poor, middle class or rich voters is valuable. What issues they are interested on, what do they want of candidates.
Knowing your strength and weaknesses and so with your opponents and their campaign managers will help you a lot because you will have an inkling what their strategies will be and how to be ahead in the game.
Being with the political party with great chances of winning is an advantage, but winning the nomination is your first hurdle. You must gather the most support and recruit as much members.
Getting the support of the various ethnic groups and their leaders is a must. You can’t just rely on the Filipino vote which is simply none existent as of the moment. Until we mobilize this sleeping giant, we have no force to reckon with. Do not only campaign among Filipinos but to all ethnic and mainstream Canadians. Sometimes, it is Filipinos who will put you down and even work against you.
Rafael (Ralph) Logatoc has a vast experience in Canadian politics having worked hard for Member of Parliament (MP) Albina Guarneri, Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Harinder Takhar, former Minister of Government Services and MPP Peter Fonseca, former Minister of Labor. He said that candidates must know the different aspects of involvement such as: 1) Recruitment of members of the political party, raise funds and bringing the members to the nomination meeting; 2) Going house to house, asking owners for permission to place posters in their lawns, asking to whom they will vote and convincing them to vote for their candidate. MPP Takhar asked him to post 350 posters and to take them out after the election. 3) Asking people to vote for their candidates; 4) Distribute flyers and brochures house to house; 5) Make a canvass on whom the home owners will vote; 5) Identify Filipino Canadian voters from the voters list, call and convince them to vote for his candidates; 6) Bring voters to the polls during election day specially those who are sure to vote for his party candidates; 7) Have a time management study. There is a saying, “Each of us are given by God 24 hours each day. He who knows how to use the most of this 24 hours have an advantage over others.” So know how to prioritize and maximize the use of your time.
Let’s be serious in our organizations. We are not just making bahay bahayan. Politics is a serious business.
We can be king makers. During the last election, Pastor Julius Tiangson of Gateway Centre of Mississauga, with his small followings was able to make Bob Dechert win as Member of Parliament in Mississauga West. We sat down with him with some Filipino strategist and suggested how he can win over the Filipino voters in the area. He also asked some community leaders like Terri Olayta and former caregivers to help Parm Gill win in Brampton as MP against former MP Ruby Dhalla. Ann Nacorda and Merfa Yap and some others helped Joe Oliver, MP now Minister of Natural Resources. Their support was able to win ridings for the Conservative Party, a breakthrough in Metro Toronto because of the weak Liberal leader Michael Ignatiff. It shows that if we exert some efforts, we can make an impact in Canadian politics. We don’t have to be united. We only have to get involved but know what we are doing.
(Those who are interested on this topic and might want to get involved in fulfilling this dream, please email the author at rodjalram@gmail .com)