TORONTO - It is difficult to resist a conclusion that the government(s) of Canada discriminate on the basis of “identity politics”, whether the identifier is racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic etc.
We acknowledge that Canada is a vast country where the daily stresses and strains of maintaining unity and purpose are a challenge for any individual or group.
Nonetheless, in the interest of promoting respect for those who have dedicated themselves to making this a country to be envied, we need to be unapologetic about the contributions Italian-Canadians have made to the growth of Canada.
Their role has been pivotal in the modernization of communities everywhere across this nation. While only 1.5 million in number, they have more than “pulled their weight” in all sectors of the economy.
Yet, they are absent from Senate – a House of Parliament, composed of 105 members, specifically structured to represent the interests of “minorities”.
Census Canada suggests that only the Anglo-Celtic and Francophone communities are more populous than the Italian. So, if willing and organized, they potentially wield great electoral power.
But the Senate is an appointed body. The only one who “votes” to elect a Senator is the Prime Minister.
As of the last appointments made before Christmas, Italian-Canadians have no representation in the “House of Sober Second Thought”. That’s right – none from Quebec; none from the West, and, most of all, none from Ontario, home to over 850,000 citizens of Italian origin.
It is impossible that not a single man or woman among them was worthy of the Prime Minister’s consideration.
Not that the Corriere has been keeping track, but, here’s a partial list of some of the individuals (names removed) who had registered for consideration or for whom others had written letters of support, in Ontario: two long-serving members of the federal bureaucracy, one architect, a banker, a pension fund administrator, one very successful entrepreneur, a member of the judiciary, a former federal Cabinet Minister (not me), a senior executive member of the Union movement, two builder/developers, one high school teacher and a former director of a social service agency. This is only a partial list.
Prime Ministers Trudeau and Harper have had an “embarrassment of riches” from which to select Senators reflective of one of the ethnic communities that has been a mainstay of modern and contemporary Canada.
For reasons they have not chosen to share with the public, both men said no! Harper in fact halted the selection process in the last several months leading up to the 2015 election despite intense lobbying by several individuals and organizations. It may be that the lobbying is no longer existent or considered ineffective.
Trudeau would seem oblivious to it, despite several efforts to bring him into the community.
Regardless, no one has heard from the moribund, if not extinct, National Congress of Italian Canadians, the Canadian Italian Business and Professionals Association, the Council of Italian Advocates (CIAO), the Chamber of Commerce, COSTI, the plethora of regional and cultural associations too numerous to mention, the Unions and Billionaires in the community whose philanthropy is the life-blood hospitals and social service agencies throughout the province, or from the Media moguls who claim to speak for us all. They must be “keeping their powder dry”, so the saying goes.