English Articles

G-7 Meetings: Snags and Figuracce

TORONTO – “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”. It happens that on occasion, those projects do not go as planned; someone hits a snag. For Italians, to be oblivious to the necessity of preparing for all eventualities, irrespective of the outcome, is akin to inviting condemnation. It happened in an exchange between two Prime Ministers: Trudeau and Meloni.

G-7 meetings are opportunities for Leaders of counties to “bond” and grow their senses for common purpose. They are, after all, among the top ten ranked economies in the world. As such, international market dynamics compel them to transform their competitive interests into partnerships for mutual benefit.

They also, thereby, if ever so briefly, develop understandings of their common security interests – whatever form they may take. They consolidate what works and steer clear of the proverbial minefields.

Entire bureaucracies, dedicated to keeping governments and their leaders current and relevant, leading up to and flowing from these meetings, revolve around these events. The annual meetings are supposed to be more than photo-ops.

How did this team of “experts” prepare our PM for his one-on-one meeting with Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s PM and first female head of government? The look on her face (in a photo we will not publish because we have yet to receive written permission) is all revealing: “they briefed him for this?”

Meloni will cut her attendance short because, for the last several days, a Province in North-Central Italy has suffered devastating flooding, erosions, mudslides, evacuations of entire villages (some 20,000 inhabitants and counting) and 19 deaths – so far. Even the Formula 1 race, scheduled for Imola, has been cancelled.

In the South, Sicily is bracing for a cyclone predicted for these next few days. Meanwhile, human smugglers from central and northern Africa have increased the number and frequency of hapless beings they discharge on Italian territory, primarily at Lampedusa, a small island off Sicilian shores. The totals, as of March 31, surpassed those from last year’s twelve months, contributing to the over 500,000 landed since 2016. To suggest that resources for search and rescue and subsequent accommodation are stretched would be an understatement.

On top of that, since the Russian invasion began last year, Italy has welcomed and integrated 150,000 Ukrainian Nationals. Contemporaneously, it has been enforcing sanctions against Russian suppliers. Italy, before the war, was one of Russia’s biggest markets for natural gas. Now it is “Russian free”.

None of this has been easy. Aside from the dollar costs entailed, Iranian and Russian naval forces have taken to patrolling the eastern Mediterranean in a show of strength and to protect and advance their interesst and those of their turbulent client states. Meloni has had to deal with truculent “allies” like France’s president Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Scholz.

Meloni may be young, as politicos in Europe go, but she is practiced in the art of politics and achieving goals – she is definitely not a shrinking violet.

PM Trudeau had “decided” to lecture Meloni on the pace of Italy’s “progressive agenda”, expressing “Canadians’ concern” that neither the Courts nor the political system were moving fast enough for his tastes.

His advisors might have noted that the first openly non-heterosexual man, Nicky Vendola, an ardent communist and Catholic ran successfully for office as far away as 1978. He was elected [as governor of] Puglia, a province considered to the right of centre socially and politically, from 1992 to 2005. As an aside, he married a Page from Canada’s House of Commons, shortly before I left office.

Meloni is tough, but not impolite. Having been in the business a long time, she must have reflected upon the answer she gave a provocative journalist on the matter of Progressive politics during the last election: “I am a woman and a mother” … you fill in the rest. Next…

More Articles by the Same Author: