Why Fil Can Candidates Lost

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – If you want to be selective in dealing with the media, it will be your poison.

This was the lesson learned by Julius Tiangson, one of the five Filipino Canadian Member of Parliament candidates, who lost in the federal parliamentary elections in Canada last Monday, Oct. 19.

Tiangson, a rookie candidate, was probably the strongest bet the Filipino Canadians fielded to succeed Dr. Rey Pagtakhan of Winnipeg North and then Winnipeg North-St. Paul in Canada’s House of Commons. But Tiangson aligned himself with incumbent and appointed Conservative Sen. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr., who became a polarizing figure after banging heads with a member of the media, who happens to own Filipino Canada’s biggest bi-monthly newsmagazine, Balita. It is published by Maritess Cusipag, the feisty widow of the beloved and charismatic veteran Filipino Canadian journalist, Ruben Cusipag.

Tiangson, a Conservative candidate for Member of the Parliament (MP) for Mississauga Centre, who polled 17,304 votes or 33.2 percent, was soundly beaten by come backing Saudi Arabian-born Canadian Omar Alghabra of the Liberal Party who recaptured his old seat by collecting 28,735 votes or 55.1% of the votes for the Mississauga Centre, a riding or district in the latest unofficial tally with 99.84% polls reporting and a national turnout of 17,559,353 or the 25,638,379 registered electors or 68.49% that does not include electors, who registered on election day.

Bringing up the rear in the tally were Indian Canadian Farheen Khan of NDP (New Democratic Party) who logged in 4,935 votes or 9.5% and Linh Nguyen of the Green Party who managed to get 1,159 votes or 2.2%.

Monday’s federal election toppled from power the decades-old Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who hosted during the summer a state visit of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III  in Ottawa, Canada.

Winners in MP elections are determined by plurality of votes.

When Harper appointed Philippine-born Enverga Senator, a position that pays him an annual salary of $132,300 for life (until the age of 75 during good behavior) two years ago, it caught the Filipino Canadians by surprise.

NO PRESS CONFERENCE

Instead of holding a press conference, Enverga made himself scarce, confident that as an appointee for life, he does not need the support of the media.

And instead of having a honeymoon period with the media, Enverga found himself having a nightmare as his critics led by Balita dug up the questionable fund-raisings on beauty contests and other community events conducted by his wife, Rosemer Enverga, who has yet to come up with credible financial accounting.

One of Cusipag’s editors, Romy Marquez, tried to join an event, hosted by Enverga, who invited some members of the media sympathetic to his cause. Instead of giving a statement, Enverga and his media friends shooed Marquez away.

Balita has since hounded the Envergas with transparency issue at every turn.

When Enverga addressed the parliament for the first time, describing Filipino Canadians as the “best karaoke singers,” instead of being the most hard-working community in the world, it provided Balita another fodder to ridicule him, dubbing Enverga “Karaoke Senator.”

During the two-day “Taste of Manila” food festival in Toronto, Canada last August, Enverga broke protocol by crashing the parade and by failing to acknowledge the presence of Ontario Premiere (Governor) Kathleen Wynne, a Liberal, when it was Enverga’s turn to speak during the program.

Tiangson, who was around, did not do anything to apologize for Enverga’s gaffe, either.

The public feud between Enverga and Balita prompted the Trudeau Liberals to prefer the Pakistani over the Fil-Can community vote. Fil Can Rafael Fabregas, a Bay Street Immigration Lawyer, would have been more than qualified for the Liberal Party nomination in the Greater Toronto Area, but Trudeau allowed his minions to cheat the process. Accountant Michele Serrano, another Fil Can aspirant under the LP flag was muscled out to get former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair the slot as Trudeau’s personal choice.

CULTURE SHOCK FOR $10 REGISTRATION FEES

Another turn-off to new Filipino Canadian voters was the payment of $10 registration fees if they would like to join a political party. While the very poor Filipino voters in the Philippines are the ones getting money from politicians, the practice of paying dues to the political parties in Canada came as a culture shock to new Filipino Canadian voters.

This is nothing new to big-time businessmen in the Philippines, especially the Chinese, who are the ones giving politicians of different political parties big political contributions to make sure one of the recipients of their contributions is the winning candidate. The only bad thing about these contributions is that these are given secretly allowing the  contributions to go to the pockets of politicians, who are running for office not necessarily for winning elections but “for the fund of it.”

Remember the millions of pesos in contribution that Vice President Jojo Binay’s camp publicly acknowledged to have deposited to his own numerous personal accounts?

In the U.S., the names of individual and corporate political contributors and the amounts of contributions are publicly disclosed in the Federal Election Commission’s Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal. Some of the American politicians, who attempted to pocket the political contributions, however, like Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pronounced blago-ya-beach), have been sent to jail. Blagojevich is now serving his third year of his 14-year federal prison sentence.

While the unspent balance of political contributions is supposedly left in the political party coffers, there are still lots of American politicians, who are lining their own pockets who get away with the “last-minute” contributions.

Another cause of the losses of Filipino Canadian candidates is their lack of knowledge in dealing with the media and their lack of professional and experienced political handlers. They don’t even bother to reach out individually to media practitioners, who wrote something about them. They don’t even acknowledge the publicity when their press releases are used, losing their personal touch with journalists.

OTHER FIL CAN LOSERS

The other Filipino Canadians who lost last Monday in the MP elections were:

  • Levy Abad, New Democrat, who collected 4,543 votes or 13.4%, in the Winnipeg North riding (district), that was won by re-electionist Kevin Lamoureux of the Liberal Party with 23,407 votes or 68.9%;
  • Francisco “Jojo” Quimpo, Conservative Party, Vancouver Kingsway, who tallied 9,538 votes or 21.1%. The riding winner was MP re-electionist Don Davies, executive of the Canada-Philippines, Canada-China and Canada-Europe Parliamentary Associations. Davies of the New Democratic Party garnered 20,663 or 45.6% votes;
  • Mario Jacinto Rimbao, of the New Democratic Party, collected 3,889 or 8.1% of the votes for the Mount Royal (Quebec) riding. The winner in the riding is Anthony Housefather of the Liberal Party who captured 24,317 or 52% of the votes; and
  • Jesus “Jayjay” Cosico, Independent, a former politician from the Philippines, who got 416 votes of .6% against the winner, Arya Chandra, Liberal Party, who polled 34,017 votes or 52.4%.

All members of parliament now make a basic annual salary of $167,400.

When reached for comment, Lars Andersen, Policy Advisor to Sen. Enverga, quoted Enverga as saying:

“As you are well aware, the Liberal Party of Canada made significant gains, while the Conservative Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party, both with two Filipino candidates each, were not as successful during this election. Perhaps it might be considered that the Filipino Canadian candidates’ unsuccessful campaigns were‎ reflections of a general trend rather than their individual efforts in their ridings. As for Jesus “Jayjay” Cosico, he ran on an independent platform, something that is very difficult in our electoral system here in Canada. I want to congratulate them all on their campaigns, and thank them for doing their civic duty and participating in the democratic process.”

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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