Rey Pagtakhan

Rey Pagtakhan

Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan, PC, M.Sc, MD, LL.D [] (born January 7, 1935) is a Canadian physician, professor and politician. He was a cabinet minister in the governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, and served as a member of parliament from 1988 until his defeat in the election of 2004.


Born in Bacoor, Cavite, in the Philippines, Pagtakhan trained as a doctor and received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of the Philippines. He completed his residency and fellowship at the Washington University Medical Centre/St. Louis Children’s Hospital and his Master of Science from the [ University of Manitoba] .

Medical Career and Community Involvement

Prior to his political career, Dr. Pagtakhan was a Full Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine. He joined the medical faculty at the University of Manitoba in 1971 as a lecturer and became a professor in 1985. He also worked as a pediatric respirologist at the Winnipeg Children's Hospital between 1971 and 1988.

In addition to the above responsibilities, Dr. Pagtakhan also served as Director of the Manitoba Cystic Fibrosis Centre, President of the Manitoba Pediatric Society, member of the Winnipeg Police Commission, the first Chair of the Board of Presidents of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, and as National President of the United Council of Filipino Canadian Associations in Canada. []

In 1986, he was elected as a Winnipeg school trustee in the St. Vital district and served in that capacity until 1988.

Political career

Pagtakhan was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1988 federal election in the riding of Winnipeg North, defeating incumbent New Democrat David Orlikow who had held the riding since 1962. He became the first Filipino-born Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons. He was easily re-elected in the 1993 election, defeating New Democratic challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis. In the elections of 1997 and 2000, he was elected for the redistributed riding of Winnipeg North-St. Paul.

Pagtakhan served as parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from February 23, 1996 to July 15, 1998. He was appointed to cabinet on January 9, 2001, and served as Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) until January 15, 2002. His appointment to cabinet marked the first time in over 75 years that an M.P. from north Winnipeg became a member of the federal cabinet. As Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), Dr. Pagtakhan took on a number of tasks including representing Canada as Head of its delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects [] .

On January 15,2002, he was promoted to Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister responsible for Manitoba [] . In this capacity, he served on the Cabinet Committees on Economic Union, Social Union and Government Communications [] .

During his tenure as Minister responsible for Manitoba (also known as the Senior Minister for Manitoba), Pagtakhan was part of the government that funded major projects in Manitoba such as the expansion of the Red River Floodway [] and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights [] . Pagtakhan also served as Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development) from May 26, 2002 to December 12, 2003.

On December 12, 2003, new Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed him as Minister of Western Economic Diversification. In this capacity he served on the Cabinet Committees on Domestic Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs [] . During his tenure in this position, Dr. Pagtakhan, amongst other things, announced funding for the Winnipeg based International Centre for Infectious Diseases [] .

Further redistribution pushed Pagtakhan back into the riding of Winnipeg North for the election of 2004. He lost to Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who had been elected for Winnipeg North Centre in 1997 and 2000.

Life After Politics

Since returning to private life in 2004, Pagtakhan has been actively involved in numerous ventures. In 2005 and 2006, he served as the Director of the [ Global College at the University of Winnipeg] and Chair of the College's Advisory Board. He is currently Co-Chair of its Global Advisors. In addition, Pagtakhan serves as a Public Adjudicator of the Prairie Regional Panel of the [ Canadian Broadcast Standards Council] , Governor of the [ Canadian International Peace Project] and Chair of the Manitoba Liberal Party's Election Readiness Committee [] . In 2005, he was invited to speak in Manila on the topic of Canadian federalism and its relevance to constitutional reform in the Philippines [] .

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