TORONTO - In the final analysis one tries to be positive and to recognize the value in any exercise. Friday’s “debate” among the many candidates vying for two MP and one Senatorial positions to the Italian Parliament at least took place.
It was organized by the local COMITES and billed as a “meet the candidates” and “debate”.
Fifteen were respectful enough to attend. A sixteenth, Fiorenzo Borghi (M5S), had a flight cancellation in New York due to weather conditions alter his plans.
Roughly 35% of all the eligible voters in the North and Central American constituency reside in the GTHA. One can understand why candidates would want the exposure, regardless of their party colours. It should have been a command performance for all the “local candidates” – GTA-based, or Central Canadian.
“Out-of-towners”: Angela Maria Pirozzi-Giannetti (Senate, PD, Ottawa), Giuseppe Continiello (LEU, Montreal), Leonardo Metalli (MAIE, New York), Giovanni Faleg (PD, Washington), Pasquale Nestico (Senate, PD, Philadelfia), Francesco Galtieri and Luca Palazzotto both candidates for the +Europa (NewYork), Rocco Di Trolio (PD, Vancouver), Isabella di Valbranca (PD, San Francisco), Matteo Gazzini (SBM, Syracuse) all thought they were duty bound to the electorate of Toronto to show up.
Bravo! To them and to the Toronto-based candidates: Paolo Canciani (MAIE), Pierluigi Roi (LEU), Tony D’Aversa (LEU), Rosanna Di Pierdomenico (Civica Popolare) and Francesca La Marca (PD) who joined them, a double bravo.
Any other Gta - based candidates must have had more pressing issues. Or they were afflicted by the disease called indifference.
There were two main issues. First the ability of the incumbents to accomplish anything of substance in the last Parliament (only one was present to defend the record, with little success, on the night).
Second, the program that a successful candidate might pursue in the event of electoral success.
Some had difficulty enunciating a personal program distinguishable from a party platform to which they might of necessity be obligated to acquiesce.
On this score, candidates for the newer parties had the advantage of sounding firmer and more aggressive. As did those who made the effort to come from afar - especially the two West Coast candidates.
In the comparison, the incumbents (one present, one absent and a third retired) served as a target and had to bear the brunt of the criticism. Candidates representing Forza Italia, Fratelli D’Italia, partners in the S-B-M coalition were also absent.
As a result, the Salvini group (Lega – formerly Lega Nord, formerly Lega Lombarda – a Right wing separatist movement) alone represented the Right-wing umbrella. Based on his performance, abetted by “plants” in the crowd, were his party (SBM) to form the government then “God help us, and God help Italy”.
On the matter of “helping us”, arguably the reason why the democratic exercise exists, the LEU raised three issues specific to the GTA: the demolition of the Columbus Centre, the potential redevelopment of Casa Italia and the funding of Italian culture and language. Off stage, they also raised campaign financing issues that loom in the background.
On these scores, candidates preferred the usual polemical route. Yet, if nothing else, the “debate” served to show that many of the aspirants present on stage would make for good candidates in a Canadian or American election.