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Hugh Abroad

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Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen is finishing up an official trip to the Philippines today after travelling for a few days with Foreign Affairs people and Edda Pangilinan, the Philippine Honorary Consul General of Manitoba. They're doing the typical trade mission stuff - going to a business fair, talking with companies interested in doing deals in Canada, meeting briefly with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA, for short), talking about immigration. It's a lot like the trade mission Premier Gary Doer went on in February, one of a dozen trips he's taken so far this year.There's three interesting things about McFadyen's voyage.First, the fact that Pangilinan was on the trip - she raised a stink in February when she wasn't invited to go on Doer's ride, and some (the Tories) viewed it as a faux pas.Second, between this trip and some to First Nations up the east side of Lake Winnipeg, McFadyen is sure acting like a statesman-in-waiting, even though a new poll shows the wait could be looooong. I kind of wonder why folks in the Philippines would care about meeting an opposition leader from a small Canadian province - he can't dole out business start-up grants, speed up professional accreditation processes or crack down on shady immigration agents. But he's going anyway, like a hopeful one-day premier would.I wonder if this trip isn't more about a third thing - trying to woo the ethnic vote and make inroads into some of the most politically active communities in the province. After the election, the party hired former West End Biz boss Trudy Turner for a few months to help reach out to some of those groups before the next election, and McFadyen can trade on his trip for years when he's schmoozing Filipino voters.Meanwhile, Romy Magsino was awarded the Order of Manitoba last week. He was one of the NDP's star candidates in the last election, former dean of education at the U of M and heavyweight in Winnipeg's Filipino community.

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.

Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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