FOR the first time in Manitoba, three Filipino Canadians are running for the same seat in the provincial election.
Former NDP MLA Cris Aglugub has switched teams and has thrown his hat in the ring for the Conservatives in Tyndall Park after losing the NDP nomination in the Maples to Mohinder Saran.
Aglugub is taking on well-connected rivals.
Ted Marcelino, brother-in-law of provincial culture, heritage and tourism minister Flor Marcelino, is running for the NDP.
"It's going to make for quite an interesting race," said Roldan Sevillano, assistant for Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux. Sevillano is running for the Liberals.
"Since the mid-1990s, most races in many North Winnipeg districts have featured at least two members of the Filipino community," said University of Manitoba political studies professor Jared Wesley.
"That three members are now running reflects the fact that all three major parties have recognized the importance of appealing to the community's residents by recruiting candidates to represent their interests."
Aglugub, who represented the Maples for the NDP from 1999 to 2007, said Tuesday the NDP has changed, not him. He said he has grown increasingly worried about the party's position on fiscal responsibility and the lack of progress on health care wait times.
"I'm not a turncoat. The party has moved away from me," said Aglugub. "(The Conservatives) represent some of my priorities and some of my views, so I decided to switch."
Premier Greg Selinger shrugged off Aglugub's decision, saying Aglugub has the right to switch parties.
"He ran for the (NDP) nomination. It didn't go well for him," he said. "That's the choice he made."
The Liberals, meanwhile, have had their candidate in place for more than a year. Sevillano has already knocked on virtually every door in the newly redrawn constituency, which stretches from Inkster Boulevard south to Notre Dame Avenue and Dublin Avenue and from Brookside Boulevard east to McPhillips Street.
The 2006 Census says more than half the population in Tyndall Park is a "visible minority" and nearly one-third of its population has roots in the Philippines.
Parties are wise to actively recruit candidates that reflect the demographic profile of their constituencies, said University of Winnipeg Prof. Shannon Sampert. It makes them seem more inclusive and democratic, she said.
"The big issue is once they are elected, does the party promote them to the inner circle and cabinet where the real power lies?" Sampert asked.
The idea that people vote along ethnic lines is outdated, said Sevillano, 26, a Red River College grad who came to Canada at the age of five.
"Over the years, people are becoming more informed and opinionated," he said. "These communities don't necessarily just vote for the party. Now they vote also for the candidate."
Sevillano pointed to Filipino city councillor Mike Paghtakhan losing the Liberal nomination to Lamoureux in Winnipeg North, a federal riding with a large, active Filipino community.
"I think it's important to know that Filipinos don't vote for Filipinos because they're Filipino," said Sevillano.
-- with files from Mary Agnes Welch