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Trial runs on the constitutional referendum

Trial runs on the constitutional referendum

Trial runs on the constitutional referendum

by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO – One looks for positive things to say about the host when invited. This principle conditioned my impressions of the event hosted by the local chapter of the Partito Democratico on October 3rd.

Italian Senator Roberto Cociancich was billed as the speaker on the Constitutional Referendum, a campaign which is currently in full swing in Italy. It must be at least a trial run for “messaging” and tactics, I thought; otherwise, why bring out a “heavy gun”? To be sure, the PD also brought out the locally elected Deputy for North and Central America as a “Panelist”, but her colleague/senator elected from the same constituency did not attend.

From “the get go”, the message was short on clarity. The president of the PD actually set the tone by protesting some shortcomings in the proposed constitutional changes. The Deputy allowed that those shortcomings are part of the equation. I stopped taking notes.

Senator Cociancich was, as a result, on the defensive from the start. He soldiered on. When the floor was opened up to questions, intervenors seemed anything but convinced about whether to vote, let alone how.

To be fair, the meeting had been billed as an internal Party meeting, albeit one to which virtually anyone and everyone had been invited. Including, interestingly, any and all Press, Media and elected individuals.

No Canadian Radio or TV outlets covered the event. No elected officials attended, except for a local Trustee who also writes for one of the periodicals distributed for free – thanks to Italian government grants.

There were no representatives of the associations or agencies that purport to speak on behalf of the Community – unless they were there incognito – not even from Villa Charities or Columbus Centre, where the event took place.

Maybe it is just as well. This is new territory for everyone. Including, it would appear, members of political parties associated with parent organizations in Italy.

A couple of intervenors, veterans of Community-building and socio-political activism, pleaded with the PD organizers not to let the twin sisters – Apathy and Ignorance – carry the day.

In fairness, neither I personally, nor the Corriere Canadese corporately, had initially intended to attend. Perhaps we were both tempted by the charms of those twins, nonetheless, Corriere Canadese was the only Press/Media outlet to have publicized the event prior to the announcement of the definitive date of the Referendum on the Constitution (December 4, 2016).

Italian representatives from the Embassy and the Consulate must have been seduced by those same advances. If members of the Diplomatic Corps – who could have requested a spot in the “pre-meeting” to describe procedural questions for interested individuals, then exit – were present, they were not announced.

The Referendum is a pivotal event in contemporary Italy. On its results may depend the survival of the current government, that of a post-Brexit Europe and the dynamics of an Italy-Canada economic-political relationship.

Dramatic? No. There are approximately 140,000 Canadians who are eligible (the Consulates will have the most up to date numbers) to vote in this Referendum. They could end up playing a decisive role directly or through their relatives in Italy.

Is there another occasion where Canadians can have a potentially determining impact on the political dynamics that may affect the domestic and foreign affairs of their Allies and Trading Partners?

I don’t have a vote.

The Corriere Canadese has pens and paper, and a vibrant digital version, on which to write. The PD has the American Jim Messina guiding the local campaign. We’ll see.

(Thursday 6 October 2016)

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