Immigration and the October election
A provincial election has been called for October 4, 2011 and once again politicians are knocking on our doors, soliciting support for their parties and making all kinds of promises. The time is coming for us individually and collectively to decide whom we should vote for. The reasons for selecting one candidate over others are as complex and different as the number of voters but there are some fundamental issues that should be considered: taxes, economic growth, health care, education and housing to mention just a few.
And of course, where would we be without immigration? Immigration is, for those who may not be aware, both a federal and provincial responsibility. The federal department of Citizenship and Immigration has the final decision on admissibility but provinces, especially Manitoba, have a significant role to play in determining which economic stream applicants should be given preference.
Immigration at the provincial level has been defined during the last 13 years by our highly successful nomination program, The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program or MPNP. Manitoba has been recognized as a place where immigration numbers continue to rise even in the midst of a worldwide recession. While other governments have been cutting back their immigration programs Manitoba has been expanding. Will MPNP continue if the government changes or will the numbers be cut, and if so, will the cuts be marginal or drastic? These are very real questions and ones you should put to those politicians who are soliciting your vote.
The candidates are often people we know, including many from the local Filipino community. We have my accomplished kumare, Flor Marcelino, the current Minister of Culture and Heritage, running for re-election in the newly constituted Logan riding and two other members of the community in the Maples.
In the Tyndall riding alone there are three Pinoys contesting the same provincial seat. Chris Aglugub, who I helped at an earlier time when he ran for a different party, is now the Progressive Conservative candidate. Ted Marcelino, a long time friend and immigration confidant, is running for the NDP and Roldan Sevillano, who is the brother of close family friends and my fellow columnist with the Pilipino Express, is the Liberal party candidate. There was a time when you could count Filipino candidates on one hand or even one finger and now we may end up with one, two or even more elected members. But whom should we vote for?
I believe strongly that candidates should be allowed to speak for themselves and defend their party’s official positions, especially on important topics like immigration. However, we should not lose focus on the historical fact – not a fiction nor political spin – that the provincial NDP has been largely instrumental in making the MPNP what it is today. The former Filmon PC government signed the first federal provincial accord on immigration with Ottawa and introduced the nominee program to the province in 1998 but it is the three term NDP government that expanded the program from its early beginnings with 200 nominations per year to the over 5,000 nominations that will be issued this year.
If you came to the province as a provincial nominee you have the NDP to thank because they were not only the ruling party for the past the 12 years but also the party who lobbied, fought and negotiated with different federal immigration Ministers and departments to get the number of nominations increased. The reader should be reminded that 1,550 new arrivals came from the Philippines under the MPNP in 2004; 1,837 in 2005; 2,530 in 2006; 3,279 in 2007; 2,871 in 2008; 4,300 in 2009 and similar estimates for the past year. Now you know why the local community has been growing by leaps and bounds.
If immigration is your primary reason for casting your vote then your decision has been made easier. The NDP government has been the strongest advocate for increased immigration to the province and can rightly claim to be the party behind the success of MPNP and the population explosion within our local Filipino community. The program can become even bigger and more accessible for community members. I was at a meeting on September 12 that was attended by the immigration Minister Jennifer Howard, Flor Marcelino, Mohinder Saran and Ted Marcelino at which time the Minister announced that a re-elected NDP government will continue to fight for an increase in the 5,000-plus nomination certificates issued annually and also would set up a satellite MPNP office in the heart of the Tyndall riding. Things are looking up for immigration to Manitoba. All we have to do is remember to vote NDP.
Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail: email@example.com