Finally, a Speaker with his own History! Thanks Anthony!

di Joe Volpe del 9 December 2019

TORONTO -For some people, the Speaker in a Westminster- modelled Parliament is just a cut above a ceremonial post. They are typically uninformed or meanspirited. Granted, the Speaker cannot usurp Executive powers. No one envisions or would tolerate that. The office still has great influence… so…

“The Honourable Anthony Rota”; the greeting has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Thanks to the voting system for the election of the Speaker, and probably also to Andrew Scheer’s desire to show Justin Trudeau that the Prime Minister may no longer be as in complete control of the House of Commons as he might like, Mr. Rota is now THE pivotal MP in the House. Thanks, Anthony, for offering to serve!

It’s immaterial how he got there. The important point is that Canada finally has Speaker whose origins are neither English nor French. In a generation where the Justin Trudeau has raised the awareness level of the value inherent in the symbolism of Identity Politics (Aboriginal, gender, sexual, pigmentation, etc.,) to unprecedented heights, one has the sense that he didn’t see this one coming. Or that he is not pleased. Who cares? Thanks, Anthony!

Mr. Rota is the chief servant of the House and the final arbiter in the conduct of its debates. Only one other Allophone Canadian has ever held that position – Andrew Scheer, and he has never identified himself a such. But Rota is the first of Italian origin, and without the perceived influence that accompanies the critical mass of numbers from big city centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver might bring. Yet there he is. It’s a community with “lots of depth”, as they say in the sports world. Thanks, Anthony!

Youngish looking but, at age 58, not so “young”; polyglot, well educated and experienced in the marketplace. A family man (are we still allowed to say that?) from smalltown Ontario – North Bay to be more precise - a relatively small city but one of the five main Northern Ontario urban centres that remind policy-makers of the precariousness of their survival, absent Federal and Provincial interventions to make them sustainable demographically and economically. In my experience with him, he never ceased to drive home the point. Thanks, Anthony!

He is a “ground-breaker”. For the very first time, a language other than English or French – Italian – has been pronounced from the speaker’s chair. It was done with deference, with class and with emotion diœcult to suppress. His wife Chantal was beaming with pride. So are Canadian Italians everywhere, 1.5 million of them according to the latest census.

They have “lit up our lines” to express their appreciation for your gesture. Thanks, Anthony!

It was your brief and simple message, filled with emotion - directed to those (like your parents and a others) - that struck a cord for many: “…it has not always been easy being Italian [in this country], but you paved the way and now your children are advancing to your credit and in doing so honour you …and they are appreciative of what you have done.” Thanks, Anthony!

In a few words, you captured the essential values of the Italian-Canadian experience: hard work, sometimes associated with adversity and su¢ering, always accompanied by a stoic resolve to improve the lot of those around us even as we profit and always grateful for those who do likewise. Thanks, Anthony! Some of your former caucus colleagues would do well to absorb the message, as would MPs from other political persuasions.

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