A chess tournament that pits young students against senior residents is an annual tradition in Tyndall Park.
Now, New Democrat MLA Ted Marcelino, the tournament’s founder and the constituency’s reigning "king," is caught up in his own version of the game. The high-stakes contest has a savvy veteran and an optimistic rookie both plotting to pull off a campaign-trail checkmate and steal the other’s crown.
Liberal Cindy Lamoureux, who was elected in Burrows, is running in Tyndall Park, the area where she grew up, which has been represented by Marcelino since 2011. She decided to make the switch because of changes to constituency boundaries, which take effect in this election. The 27-year-old won the Burrows seat in 2016, following in the footsteps of her father, Kevin Lamoureux, who was an MLA for years and has been the Winnipeg North MP since 2010.
The race is playing out in the Inkster Gardens, Meadows West, Tyndall Park and Garden Grove neighbourhoods. Nearly 40 per cent of the population is Filipino while about 13 per cent of constituents have South Asian origins.
Only one will resume work at the Manitoba legislature after the Sept. 10 election — unless Progressive Conservative hopeful Daljit Kainth snags the seat out from under the two experienced MLAs. The self-described political rookie said he thinks his community is ready to ride a blue wave. And despite well-known names on the ballot, some constituents think a split vote between the competitive NDP and Liberal candidates could make room for a Tory to win.
The race is playing out in the Inkster Gardens, Meadows West, Tyndall Park and Garden Grove neighbourhoods. Nearly 40 per cent of the population is Filipino while about 13 per cent of constituents have South Asian origins. In talking with candidates and constituents, health care and crime are top of mind this election.
Sitting at a table near the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba restaurant, Marcelino talks about safety in the community. "It’s one of my regrets that I couldn’t do anything about (the meth crisis)," the 72-year-old said.
Marcelino is seeking a third term to maintain what has been a New Democrat stronghold since the constituency was established a decade ago.
The grandfather of 11 has been a Winnipegger since immigrating from Manila in 1980. When he left the Philippines, his career as a defence lawyer ended. In Winnipeg, he took jobs ranging from tire re-treader to 7-Eleven clerk.
After hours, he made himself known in his community by volunteering as counsel for the Immigration and Refugee Board and taking in newcomers who had nowhere to go. During an interview with the Free Press between doorknocking sessions, Marcelino proudly recalls housing newcomers for months.
"I go to the airport even and ask those new recruits for (the) garment industry if they have a place to stay — and we ask them to stay with us, for free," he said. "From the Philippines especially, those who do not have anybody here.
"It’s unconditional. They can stay for as long as they want, sometimes five, six months, sometimes a year."
Days earlier, Lamoureux was dipping her french fries into an Oreo McFlurry as she waited for constituents at her Monday night McDonald’s post. "That’s one of the big things you hear at the door — people want politicians to be accessible and that’s fair, we need to be able to hear what’s going on in the community," she said in between bites.
It’s a weekly, year-round ritual that gives residents the chance to drop in to discuss their concerns. It’s also one she adopted from her father, whom she credits for her ambition to be a politician. Before being elected, she worked at the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba.
The Lamoureux father-daughter duo worked together on certain files that concerned both provincial and federal jurisdiction during her stint as Burrows MLA. They even shared some staff. Lamoureux said the two attend gurdwara, a Sikh temple, together in the community once a month. "I never take it for granted. The communities have been incredibly welcoming to both my father and I," she said about her Filipino and South Asian neighbours.
Meanwhile, Kainth is an active volunteer in the city’s Indian community. A business owner and financial planner by day, the 40-year-old father is vice-president of the India Association of Manitoba and a Folklorama pavilion co-ordinator.
The PC candidate, who immigrated to Winnipeg in 2006, said he’s "very confident" about next month’s outcome because the residents he has talked to while doorknocking are pleased with the Pallister government’s first term. He plans to win their votes on a platform to renovate the community centre and improve transit.
Lamoureux is focused on expanding Seven Oaks General Hospital services while Marcelino has made recreation improvements his priority.
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"This is my Tyndall Park and nobody else’s," Marcelino said, followed by a chuckle. He remains confident despite the fact he considered not running for re-election. He hauled two truckloads of campaign signs to Mother Earth Recycling after his wife had two heart attacks this year. Then he changed his mind.
When the legislature was in session, Marcelino says he was approached by Lamoureux and asked if he planned to run again in Tyndall Park because if he did, she wouldn’t. Marcelino recalls he told her he would let her know, but before he did, Lamoureux announced her campaign.
"At my age, I don’t want to be pushed out of contention like I’m useless, easy to take on," he said. "From my point of view, I’m enjoying this job. I love serving this community that I have been blessed to be a part of over the last 40 years and this is my way of saying thank you, make use of (me)."
Lamoureux said Marcelino’s decision to run wouldn’t have affected hers and that she had no idea he was upset. It was a casual conversation between two politicians, she said. "Tito (uncle in Tagalog) Ted is someone I respect very much."
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Key issues: Tyndall Park has shifted upwards and outwards to take pieces of Burrows and The Maples ridings since boundaries were redrawn in 2018. Home to 21,455 Winnipeggers, the constituency stretches from Jefferson Avenue in the north to the CP rail line in the south. Its main east-west borders are the city’s border on Brookside Boulevard and the CP rail line. Constituents are particularly concerned with safety as the meth crisis rages on and access to health care services close to home amid change at Seven Oaks General Hospital. Other important issues include support services for newcomers, recreation spaces and transit.
Importance: An NDP stronghold in previous years, the race for Tyndall Park will be one to watch on election night. The NDP and Liberals are fighting to keep seats from turning blue, but those votes could also be split down the middle for the PCs. While there are physical signs in all colours plastered on buildings and lawns across the community, the Marcelino and Lamoureux families have name recognition in the community as experienced MLAs and both candidates have strong ties to the Filipino community. Marcelino's resume includes being the NDP critic for culture, seniors, housing and agriculture while Lamoureux has served as the Liberals’ seniors, youth, justice, education and immigration critic. In 2016, she beat a PC incumbent in 2016 to be elected MLA of Burrows.
WORD ON THE STREET:
Jon Sarroca, a Garden Grove resident and father of one young son
Sarroca said the Lamoureux family name holds a lot of weight in Tyndall Park because Kevin Lamoureux, as both an MLA and MP, has always made himself accessible to the public. “Filipino and East Indian communities, once you help us, we want to give back,” Sarroca said.
Ponz Mapuyan, an immigrant settlement worker and spokesperson for 204 Neighbourhood Watch
“People are clamoring for change,” Mapuyan said. But the immigrant settlement worker said he questions if it’ll look red or blue. Mapuyan said crime and social services for Winnipeggers experiencing homlessness are top priorities for the riding’s constituents.
Adele Mina, a senior citizen in Tyndall Park
Residents want an MLA who looks out for vulnerable populations including the riding’s Indigenous community, people experiencing homelessness and seniors, Mina said. “Most of the candidates promise something, they don’t do it,” she said. The 75-year-old added she’s concerned about voter apathy leading up to the election.