Former Manitoba MLA Conrad Santos has died.

Santos, 81, died on Feb. 29.

Santos was born in the Philippines on Nov. 26, 1934. He went on to graduate from Harvard and the University of Michigan with a PhD in political science in 1965.

He then moved to Winnipeg, where he landed a job lecturing at the University of Manitoba.

Santos's first foray into the political arena came in 1973, when he ran for the NDP in Fort Garry. He lost the contest, and two subsequent bids for a seat on Winnipeg city council in 1977 and 1980.

In 1981, Santos was elected to represent the Manitoba NDP in the Burrows riding, becoming one of the first Filipino-Canadian to be elected to office in Canada.

He held onto a seat in the Assembly of Manitoba until 1988, when he lost the NDP nomination in the northwest Winnipeg riding. Santos was elected again in 1990 and served as the NDP MLA for Broadway until 1999. 

After the riding folded in 1999, he won the NDP nomination in the Wellington riding, which he held for almost a decade.

He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for his years of community service.

In 2007, Santos's life in politics came to an end. He withdrew his nomination with the NDP shortly before the writ was dropped that year amid allegations that some of the new party members he and his supporters had signed up did not pay their own membership fees.

He ran as an independent but finished last in the riding that year.

Santos died at the Victoria General Hospital on Monday. He leaves behind his daughter and two sons.