In the spirit of promoting the engagement of Canadian Filipinos in Canadian society - the goal of this website - I offer the following article. Welcome to Canada. If you're here, you might as well get involved in all aspects of the community, including politics.
Why? You meet people. It's fun. You'll feel a sense of belonging to Canada. You'll make a difference.
A good place to start is at the municipal level, such as school board, parks and recreation board, and municipal council.
Elections are held every four years in B.C. In other provinces and territories, it may be different, but the process of engagement is similar.
The most important thing is to get to know your community, and get known in your community. How?
- Attend council and school district meetings. Introduce yourself to councillors and school board members. Express your interest in getting involved and helping. Don't worry. Politicians are always looking to meet new people for ideas and support, and running mates (!). They will be happy to talk to you.
- It doesn't hurt to get involved in church activities, neighborhood activities, parent school activities. There are always lots of issues and projects in these places, things that need to be resolved.
- Increase your comfort level with the community. Volunteer for committees. There is much work to be done. Leadership opportunities exist in these committees. In the process of getting to know people and them getting to know you, you will also find out how problems are solved at the local level, the civic processes, and people that can help solve community problems.
Then you can make your choices.
Firstly, choose the level of politics. Find out what really interests you. Choose a patch of politics that will sustain your interest. If you have children, school board or parks and recreation board may be a natural fit, for example.
When I first ran for Surrey Municipal Council, it involved an environmental issue in Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach. Protecting it required Council to do something so that the area would not become polluted. That issue led to other issues such as environmental problems elsewhere, density, and community planning.
Secondly, choose the party or political group you are most comfortable with – i.e., left leaning, right leaning, or centrist. Parties' positions on various issues can be gleaned from how party members vote on issues. Read minutes of meetings and public hearings. Take note of what is reported in media and the statements of different parties on issues.
Thirdly, join that group. Sign up for membership. Express your interest to to run for office to the officers of the political group. Stay involved and active in the group.
Finally, campaign to get the nomination. Sign up as many friends and neighbours as you can to ensure you get the nomination. When you get the nomination, campaign hard with your group - help with fundraising, putting up campaign signs, developing policy positions - the whole works! Keep going till you get elected. (I had to run twice before getting elected.) Your perseverance will be rewarded!
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