The Comment

What is the easiest thing to do?

TORONTO – I suppose it (the answer) has something to do with inheriting everything you will ever need for this generation and for those required by your great grandchildren. It might include being able to enjoy it without the nasty intrusiveness of your nay-sayers and other “haters”.

In all likelihood, it will not include the political trajectory of Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni. She is no “shrinking violet”: competent to the point of mastery, self-assured, in command, dignified, focused – with a plan – yet still prepared to consider the perspective of others.

She emerged as Prime Minister against all odds as the party leader who received the highest percentage of the popular vote – both individually as a leader and as a participant in the Center-right coalition of parties – in the last election sixteen months ago. For non-believers and/or uninformed, she has been a pleasant surprise since, “improving every step of the way”.

Forbes magazine, which has only recently “discovered” her, ranks her as the fourth most powerful woman in the world. It is not difficult to see why. These last sixteen months have seen Italy at the forefront of the Ukrainian refugee settlement front; as the country that has moved Hungary to the point of accepting Ukrainian military needs; as the nation promoting log-term solutions to the collapsing demographic stability of northern and central Africa and, as the European nation playing the lead role in balancing critical international issues in the Greater Middle East involving oil, trade, political boundaries and fractious national interests. She is no push-over.

Did I forget to mention that emerging economic democracies like India have, through her, discovered the value of rapprochement with Italy? The Chinese had that “deal” six hundred yeas ago; they are just improving on it now.

Not bad for a woman- or man for that matter – raised by a single parent in a “marginalized” part of Rome – working part time jobs to help her mother make ends meet and to keep her sister at school. Still, from the age of fifteen, she became involved in Italy’s political infrastructure to the point that she determined to lead her party’s youth wing and grow its membership to the point that it needed its own party. Now here she is, Prime Minister of Italy.

There is not enough space in this column to extoll her talents as a political persona and as a policy maker – that may come later. Suffice it to say that she is no run-of-the-mill politician. The Italian political scene is not for the faint of heart. There are so many moving parts that not even an elaborate guidebook will keep the studied observer on track. There are too many chess pieces at play.

About twenty months ago, on Corriere Canadese’s behalf, I was invited to a panel discussion hosted from the USA. She was also a panelist. The other individuals were “personalities of substance”. The quality of her English would have put many of our Parliamentarians to shame. Her understanding of the political lexicon in North America was such that I was prompted to advance the position that in the [then] upcoming election she could better that anyone might be prepared to credit. She was at around 10%.

Today, when people ask why diaspora Italians seem enamoured of her, I can only reflect that she – like them – has overcome her adversities with definitiveness and without complaint, but with determination and class.

She will meet with Canada’s Prime Minister on March 2.

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