After 17 years without a Filipino Canadian representative in the House of Commons, the snap federal election saw the election of Rechie Valdez as Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Mississauga-Streetsville, the first ever female Canadian Filipino to hold such office.
In her acceptance speech, Valdez wore a red terno-style top, paying homage to her Filipino heritage and thanking her parents Norma and Zosimo Salazar who immigrated to Canada. A wife and young mother of two, Valdez declared, "This is a 'we' moment. We did this together ... Today we made history and her story, as you helped elect the first #Filipina in parliament."
Valdez was among six Canadian Filipinos across the country that ran for a spot in the House of Commons under various political parties in the recent snap election on September 20. Candidates only had less than six weeks to mobilize support and campaign.
In an interview with Global News Toronto, Valdez pledged to “listen and learn” in order to take the concerns of not just her constituents in the Mississauga-Streetsville riding but the larger Filipino Canadian community to be “their voice in Parliament.” Issues she identified as unique to the Filipino Canadian community include taking care of seniors, making housing affordable and accessible and taking care of health workers.
Valdez was born in Zambia in Central Africa of Filipino parents and raised in the Mississauga-Streetsville riding. The many hats she has worn over the years, Valdez said, would help her understand the needs of the community and feels privileged to be able to represent both her riding and the Canadian Filipino community.
Prior to her election, Valdez had no political experience. She was an entrepreneur and published baker specializing in cakes and dessert tables. She co-founded a Filipino fusion line of pastries that supplied two national Asian grocery chains in Mississauga. She was a contestant on The Big Bake, a Food Network Canada baking competition show and produces and hosts her own TV show called Fearlessly Creative, where she challenges cultural norms and pushes the boundaries of creativity by sharing stories of local creatives.
Prior to Valdez, Dr. Rey Pagtakhan was elected MP for the former Winnipeg North in 1988 and served as Cabinet Secretary and Minister until 2004. Other Canadian Filipino candidates that ran in the federal elections were scientist Phil de Luna (Toronto-St. Paul’s in Ontario), Paul Ong (Winnipeg Center in Manitoba), Virginia Austria-Bremner (Vancouver-Kingsway in BC), Naden Abenes (Vancouver Quadra in BC) and Elizabeth Quinto (Oxford County in Ontario).