Santos was born in the Philippines and was educated as Harvard University and the University of Michigan, receiving a PhD in Political Science from the latter institution. He moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1965 after receiving a teaching position at the University of Manitoba, where he continues to serve as a faculty member. Santos has also worked as a consultant for the Instituto Centro-Americano de Administracion Publica in Costa Rica, and was a board member of the Citizenship Council of Manitoba from 1977 to 1980.
Santos was first elected to the Manitoba legislature in the 1981 provincial election as a New Democrat in the northwest Winnipeg riding of Burrows, defeating NDP-turned-Progressive Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ben Hanuschak. He was re-elected in the 1986 election. In June 1984, there were unconfirmed rumours that he was considering a move to the Progressive Conservative Party.
Santos lost the Burrows NDP nomination to Doug Martindale in 1988, and subsequently entered the party's leadership election. He was not regarded as a prominent candidate, and received only five votes on the first ballot. He ran for mayor of Winnipeg in 1989, and finished a distant fourth.
In 1990, Santos won the NDP nomination for Broadway by a single vote over Marianne Cerilli, whose candidacy was supported by the party leadership. He defeated Liberal incumbent Avis Gray in the 1990 general election, and was re-elected in the 1995 election. In 1995, he endorsed Lorne Nystrom's bid to lead the federal NDP.
When the Broadway riding was eliminated by redistribution in 1999, Santos won the NDP nomination in Wellington (also in Winnipeg's northwest), and was returned by a wide margin in the 1999 provincial election. He was again re-elected in the 2003 election.
Santos was named Deputy Speaker after the elections of 1986 and 1999.
Santos left the New Democratic Party caucus shortly before the 2007 provincial election after being accused of improperly selling party membership cards. He campaigned as an independent, and finished last in a field of five candidates. He later pleaded guilty to paying the membership fees of as many as one hundred new party members, during the time when he was trying to retain his nomination. He was fined $200 under the provincial Election Finances Act, as well as court fees of $150. His lawyer argued that Santos was simply trying to help his low-income supporters, saying that the MLA "didn't have the heart" to request membership fees from people who were unable to feed their families.
2007 Manitoba provincial election : Wellington edit Party Candidate Votes % +/- Expenditures New Democratic Party Flor Marcelino 2,332 53.35 -20.61 $19,307.59 Liberal Rhonda Gordon Powers 718 16.72 -1.54 unavailable Progressive Conservative José Tomas 570 12.97 +3.18 $13,232.45 Independent Joe Chan 501 11.53 +11.53 $21,745,15 Independent Conrad Santos 183 4.19 +4.19 $988.12 Total valid votes 4,322 98.88 Rejected and declined ballots 49 Turnout 4,371 46.11 +1.64 Electors on the lists 9,480 2003 Manitoba provincial election : Wellington edit Party Candidate Votes % +/- Expenditures New Democrat Conrad Santos 3,119 73.96 +5.16 $17,844.69 Liberal Rylan Reed 640 15.18 +2.52 $6,803.00 Progressive Conservative Jon Penner 413 9.79 -5.85 $0.00 Communist Glen Wreggitt 45 1.07 +1.07 $376.06 Total valid votes 4,217 100.00 Rejected and declined ballots 65 Turnout 4,282 44.47 -13.96 Electors on the lists 9,629 1999 Manitoba provincial election : Wellington edit Party Candidate Votes % +/- Expenditures New Democratic Party Conrad Santos 4,102 68.80 +14.75 $14,922.00 Progressive Conservative Allison Frate 935 15.64 -1.85 $11,345.52 Liberal Bernie Doucette 757 12.66 -15.81 $10,443.45 Manitoba Party Paul Baskerville 127 2.12 +2.12 $1,099.19 Total valid votes 5,921 99.01 Rejected and declined ballots 59 Turnout 5,980 58.43 -8.54 Electors on the lists 10,234
- ^ "Santos says he will run again", Free Press Weekly, 17 April 1986, p. 8.
- ^ Mike McIntyre, "Former MLA's career comes to an end with guilty plea", Winnipeg Free Press, 7 March 2008, A7.
- ^ http://www.electionsmanitoba.ca/en/Results/39_division_results/39_wellington_summary_results.html - 2007 results
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