Filipina-Canadian wins House of Commons seat, makes history

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraged Filipino-Canadians to run for public office at the culminating event of the Filipino Heritage Month in July this year, Rechie Valdez readily responded and won a seat at the House of Commons representing the federal district of Mississauga-Streetsville in Ontario.

Newly elected member of Canada's House of Commons, MP Rechie Valdez (via Twitter/Rechie Valdez)

Valdez, a mother of two, is the first Filipina to get elected in the House of Commons and the second Filipino-Canadian to sit as a member of Canada’s Parliament.

Shortly after winning the Sept. 20 election as a member of Trudeau’s Liberal Party, she recognized the huge responsibility that she is now carrying as she commended her family and the community, including the Filipino-Canadians, for providing her with a tremendous support system that allowed her to take up the challenge from the very beginning of her political journey.

“Thank you all for the heartfelt messages and well wishes. My heart is full of gratitude. The 36 days of my campaign experience have been unforgettable. Thank you to my campaign team, family and to all the amazing and dedicated volunteers. We made HER-STORY!” Valdez said in a post on Twitter.

Following her assumption to office, the corporate baker and community builder-turned politician said she will make her goal simple by listening and learning from her community in Mississauga-Streetsville, as well as within the larger Filipino-Canadian community, and do her best to be their “voice in the Parliament”.

“I’m really here to listen and learn from them and then work and collaborate with the different levels of government, to assist with whatever issues or concerns I will bring across and then obviously I’ll take it a day at a time and do my best to be their voice in parliament,” Valdez told the Global News in an interview that was posted online.

In the same interview, the Filipina-Canadian MP listed her top priorities such as taking care of the seniors, providing affordable and accessible housing, and taking care of health care workers especially at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Filipino-Canadians are currently serving as frontliners in Canada’s battle against the pandemic.

Aside from espousing women’s rights in her campaign, Valdez also listed childcare plans as among the issues she’s been hearing about in the community.

Following her historic election victory, Canadian MP and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino congratulated Valdez and expressed his confidence in the latter’s ability to serve her community.

“Celebrating Rechie Valdez’s win in Mississauga-Streetsville along with members of the Canada-Filipino community. She’s going to make an excellent MP and I’m looking forward to welcoming her to the House of Commons. Congratulations to Rechie, her family and the entire community,” Mendicino said in a tweet.

Prior to entering politics, Valdez was a known community leader, corporate baker and later as producer and host of a TV show called Fearlessly Creative that features talented artists.

Despite her success in her business, Valdez still managed to organize a non-profit basketball festival that raised funds in support of SickKids Hospital Foundation and Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and used her voice to advocate and elevate girl's and women's basketball.

Dr. Rey Pagtakhan was the first Filipino-Canadian to be elected as MP and served as a cabinet minister from 1998 to 2004 under former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.