Filipino Canadians have mixed results in B.C. municipal elections
The breakthrough that many in the Filipino-Canadian community in Vancouver were hoping for on election night on November 19 didn’t materialize.
For this campaign, there was a lot of optimism, especially for two young and neophyte candidates, Rafael “RJ” Aquino and Gabby Kalaw.
No Filipino Canadian has been elected so far in any of the civic positions in the city that now has the community as its third largest ethnic group.
Aquino ran for council with the Coalition of Progressive Electors. He placed 20th in the competition for 10 seats with a total of 39,054 votes.
Kalaw came quite close to winning a seat in the park board as candidate with the NPA.
A sports enthusiast, Kalaw placed ninth in the contest for seven seats in the park board. He also gathered 48,600 votes, which was significantly more than Aquino garnered.
A third Filipino-Canadian candidate Juliet Andalis ran as an independent for park board. The former nurse pulled in 12,963 votes.
In an interview at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel where the NPA gathered on election night, Kalaw was beaming.
“I’m encouraged by the results,” Kalaw told the Straight. “I’m encouraged by the fact that I’ve carried more votes than any other Filipino has carried in the city.”
According to Kalaw, the election was a huge “adrenaline rush”.
He believes that his candidacy could have been successful had the NPA as a whole emerged victorious.
“If Suzanne had won I would be in there because that was the difference,” Kalaw said, referring to defeated NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton.
Kalaw doesn’t know yet if he’ll be on the ballot again next time.
“But I can tell you this: this is really fun,” Kalaw said.
In Richmond, Filipino Canadian Rod Belleza won another term in the school board.
Belleza made history in the community in 2008 when he became the first Filipino Canadian to win a civic position in B.C.
On election night, NDP Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore, who was the first Filipino Canadian to be elected in the provincial legislative assembly, tweeted that a Filipino Canadian was elected in Kitimat.
In her tweet, Elmore stated that Edwin Empinado, a nurse, has become the first Filipino Canadian to hold the post of municipal councillor in B.C.