by Rod Escobar Cantiveros
MP Kevin Lamoureux has done it again!
There is no other current member of the parliament who has been in the Philippines for many times and this record is held by Kevin Lamoureux, a member of the Parliament, Winnipeg North who has charted many thousands of kilometers over the Pacific. In his latest trip, Lamoureux held many free immigration workshops in Cebu, Batangas, Pampanga, and Angono, Rizal. At the same time, he held meetings with the loved ones of Filipino Winnipeggers and had one on one meeting with some government officials. To top them all, Kevin Lamoureux was welcomed in the City of Manila when Mayor Alfredo Lim gave him a key to the city to explore and to enjoy the hospitality of the city.
Upon his arrival from the Philippines, the Filipino Journal sent some questions to MP Kevin Lamoureux to give our readers the purpose of his trip and the meaning of his immigration advocacy.
FJ: How many times have you been in the Philippines since you became a Member of the Legislative Assembly; and presently, being as a Member of the Parliament?
KL: I have had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines on six different occasions. My 1st trip was back in 1991 when my wife Cathy and I decided that instead of having a Hawaii Holiday, we would go to the Philippines. Back then, I was able to meet the Vice-President and had a good experience to peddle a bike ride down Roxas Blvd, among many other things.
FJ: What are your missions to reach out our kababayans in the Philippines, in terms of the Provincial Nominee Program; and the promotion of Canada as a welcoming country.
KL: The primary purpose of my last 5 trips were to assist people who were interested to immigrate to Manitoba. We helped them by providing free immigration workshops and we support them and their family or friends here in Manitoba through the process at no cost. The 2nd reason why I enjoy going to the Philippines is because I care about the Philippines and I believe both Canada and the Philippines would benefit if we as two nations build a stronger relationship that goes beyond immigration. Finally, I also make it a point to visit something new for example Gawad Kalinga Village or a University.
FJ: What motivated you to have the mandate of visiting the loved ones of kababayans in Winnipeg; and meeting new friends especially some local, provincial and national politicians?
KL: I feel very blessed to have met so many wonderful people that I have helped me in every aspect of my life and there is no other community that I feel more comoftable. My motivation is to help my friends and serve a community that I truly care about. By meeting politicians of different levels allows me to promote friendship between two great countries. In the 90’s, the late Bill Norrie, Mayor of Winnipeg at that time was able to get Manila as Sister City of Winnipeg. Just last month I met with Mayor Aflredo Lim of Manila and we talked about that special relationships.
FJ: How do you comment on the success of the Provincial Nominee Program as shown in the last year’s Provincial immigration report (2011) that there were more than 6,000 economic immigrants who arrived from the Philippines?
KL: Due to former Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Premier Gary Filmon back in the late 80’s, Manitoba was able to get the nominee program running early which ultimately led to the immigration numbers we are getting today. IN the years ahead, it is going harder for us to sustain the numbers we have had in the past. Maybe, I could do a special article on this issue in the future edition of the Filipino Journal.
FJ: Would the positive interaction among the politicians and some immigration advocacy groups contribute to make the Philippines as one number source of immigrants?
KL: Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet with thousands of people through our immigration workshops in the Philippines; and with the support of my best friends, Henry Celones and his wife Linda along with Leo Toledo and others , we have assisted in many family and friends being re-united here in Manitoba. I have been an immigration advocate prior to Manitoba even having a nominee program because I believe in the benefits of immigrations and it is comforting to see that Manitoba now leads the country on a per capita basis. I suspect my office has played a role but so has many others. Gary Filmon was very supportive and his quick action to sit down with the Government of Canada back in the 90’s was critical. Equally, if it were not for the provincial nominee program, our Manitoba would never have achieved what we have today.
FJ: What else can be done to have a much more improved Provincial Nominee Program?
KL: The Provincial Nominee Program is becoming more popular at the national level as more provinces have seen how Manitoba has benefited by it. Unfortunately, our success will make it more difficult to be a successful in the years ahead. There many things that could be done but two quick points: 1st- allow people in Manitoba to have money in trust accounts on behalf of applicants; 2nd- English requirements are becoming unfair in many ways.
FJ: The Provincial Nominee Program is a very successful initiative between the Liberal government headed by former Prime MInister Jean Chretien and the Conservative Provincial government led by former Premier Gary Filmon; and continued by the NDP government headed by former Premier Gary Doer and now by the current NDP Premier Greg Salinger: To whom would the credit be given?
KL: All parties can take some credits. Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien created the national provincial program, therefore, the Liberals can take credit for the program existence. Progressive Conservative Premier Gary Filmon acted quickly and signed an agreement with the Federal government; he also played a critical role in recognizing the value of the program to Manitoba by setting up the office well before all other provinces. NDP Gary Doer had continued to support the program and allowed the number of applications to continue to increase.
FJ: At present you are the Federal Liberal Party’s immigration critic. If the federal election would be held today, and the Liberal would take over the government, what would be your priorities if you were appointed as the federal minister of immigration?
KL: The short answer is lots! The full answer would be best done in a special article that I would love to write in a future issue of the Filipino Journal.
FJ: What are your impressions about the Philippines?
KL: The Philippines is a beautiful country that has been blessed with a people that in general are kind, loving, generous, hard working and strong in faith but like many other countries around the world, there are a number of serious challenges that need to be orvercome. I believe Canada and the people of Filipino heritage around the world could play an indirect role in assisting the Philippines in dealing with the issues of concern like economic development, the environment and others. On a personal note, I would be nice to see a more agreements on those issues between the Philippines and Canada.