Rey Pagtakhan

Rey D. Pagtakhan, PC [1] (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 2004 election.

Rey D. Pagtakhan

Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Winnipeg North / Winnipeg North—St. Paul
In office
Preceded byDavid Orlikow
Succeeded byJudy Wasylycia-Leis
Personal details
Born (1935-01-07) January 7, 1935
Manila, Philippine Islands
Political partyLiberal
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines - B.Sc., M.D., LL.D. (honoris causa)
University of Manitoba - M.Sc.
University of Perpetual Help - D.Sc (honoris causa)
CabinetMinister of Western Economic Diversification (2003–2004)
Minister of Veterans Affairs (2002–2003)
Senior Minister for Manitoba (2002–2004)
Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development) (2002–2003)
Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) (2001–2002)
PortfolioParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (1996–1998)


Born at the Mary Johnston Hospital in Manila and raised in Bacoor, Cavite in the Philippines, Pagtakhan received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of the Philippines. He is a brother of the Mu Sigma Phi, the first, the largest, and the most acclaimed medical fraternity in Asia. He completed his pediatric residency and cardiology fellowship at the Washington University Medical Center/St. Louis Children's Hospital and his Master of Science from the University of Manitoba and respirology fellowship at the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg. The degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) was conferred on Pagtakhan by the University of the Philippines.[2] In 2010, the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) conferred by the University of Perpetual Help Rizal Jonelta Foundation-School of Medicine [3][4]

Medical career and community involvement

Prior to his political career, 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, 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.[5]

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 House of Commons of Canada 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), 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.[6]

On January 15, 2002, he was promoted to Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister responsible for Manitoba.[7] In this capacity, he served on the Cabinet Committees on Economic Union, Social Union and Government Communications.[8]

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 [9] and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.[10] 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.[11] During his tenure in this position, Pagtakhan, amongst other things, announced funding for the Winnipeg-based International Centre for Infectious Diseases.[12]

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 Founding 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.[13] In 2005, he was invited to speak in Manila on the topic of Canadian federalism and its relevance to constitutional reform in the Philippines.[14] In 2017, he was made a Member of the Order of Manitoba.[15]


  1. Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan, P.C., M.P. - Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development) Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  2. Dr. Reynaldo Pagtakhan: A Filipino in the Canadian Parliament Archived 2009-08-10 at the Wayback Machine University of the Philippines Forum. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  3. Rey Pagtakhan ’61 Honored by UPHS Jonelta. Archived 2010-06-02 at the Wayback Machine Mu Sigma Phi - The Medical Students' Fraternity of the UP College of Medicine. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  4. The Carillon - Achievements Archived 2010-05-01 at University of the Philippines. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  5. Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan, P.C., M.P. - Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development) Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  6. Press Conference on Small Arms and Children United Nations, July 11, 2001. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  7. Prime Minister Announces New Ministry, January 15, 2002 Privy Council Office. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  8. Prime Minister Announces New Ministry, January 15, 2002 Privy Council Office. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  9. Manitoba Flood Protection - A National Infrastructure Priority, August 18, 2003 Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Infrastructure Canada. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  10. Government of Canada Provides Boost to Western Canadian Tourism Industry, March 3, 2004. Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Western Economic Diversification. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  11. Government Briefing Gowlings. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  12. Public Health Agency Announcement - International Centre for Infectious Diseases Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine Western Economic Diversification. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  13. Manitoba Liberal Party Newsletter, August 2006. Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine Manitoba Liberal Party. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  14. In 2011 and 2012, he was invited to speak at the graduate course seminars on Ministerial Responsibility and Accountability at the University of Manitoba. Since January 2012, he has started a regular column "Medisina at Politika" for the Pilipino Express community newspaper. lang=en&print=1&url=%2Fasia%2Fmain%2Fnewsletter%2Fciap-stories-2005-10-en.asp Newsletter, October 2005. Archived 2010-02-20 at the Wayback Machine Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Allan Rock Minister of Western Economic Diversification
Stephen Owen
26th Ministry – Cabinet of Jean Chrétien
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Ron Duhamel Minister of Veterans Affairs
John McCallum
Sub-Cabinet Posts (2)
Predecessor Title Successor
Maurizio Bevilacqua Secretary of State (Science, Research and Technology)
Raymond Chan Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific)
David Kilgour
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