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Parliamentarians visit the Philippines

Report by Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North

 

Earlier this year the Canada Philippine Parliamentary Friendship Group, which I chair, made the decision to visit the Philippines, and as I write this story, I am on my way back home from the Philippines.

The primary purpose of the visit was to continue building bridges and to add value to what is already a healthy relationship between both counties. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has visited the Philippines twice and there have been several cabinet ministers who have also made the trip across the Pacific Ocean.

As a Parliamentary Friendship Group we were able to meet with a number of Senators, Members of Congress, staff members and appointees from President Duterte’s office. In all meetings, we talked about how the Filipino community in Canada continues to grow and at the same time make Canada a stronger and healthier country as a whole. I consistently made it clear that both Canada and Philippines need to go beyond immigration; we should also put an emphasis on talking more about trade and tourism. Canada has a lot to offer, such as expertise in food products and many services. Think of the potential in expanding tourism opportunities, such as our snowbirds – Canadians who travel during the cold months of the year.

We can do a lot more in the years ahead. Today, two-way trade between Canada and Philippines exceeds two billion dollars a year. In 2017, Canada exported 815 million dollars to the Philippines while we imported 1.392 billion dollars into Canada. We should continue to pursue ways in which both Canada and Philippines can grow and benefit more as a result of what I believe is a special relationship between two great nations.

To be clear, this does not mean in anyway that we cut back on immigration. Canada’s Filipino heritage community will be reaching one million people in the coming few years and the Philippines continues to lead as the number one source country for immigrants to Canada. Canada needs immigration in order to support and build our economy, and the Filipino community is second to no other in achieving our goals.

The delegation was also provided the opportunity to meet with Canada’s Ambassador and his department heads. I should also mention that my daughter Cindy and I were able do a number of things on the side such as visit an ANCOP International site, which included a slum area along with housing projects that were made possible by Canadians here in Canada.

Finally I would note that we had some fun outside of the official business. We were able to visit outdoor markets and even the Manila Ocean Park aquarium.

All in all, it was a successful trip and I will continue to promote and encourage stronger ties between Canada and the Philippines. Allow me to give a special thank you to Ambassador Petronila Garcia from the Filipino Embassy in Ottawa and her staff. Without their direct help, the trip would not have been possible.