TORONTO - Global Affairs says Canada does not encourage freelance behaviour like that of Nazzareno Tassone. The Corriere Canadese says this is a moment for grieving the loss of young man who, for reasons best known only to himself, put his life on the line for “values” that others merely lip-synche.
It is a moment to offer condolences to the Tassone family – immediate and extended – on the discovery that their young boy met his end in fighting one of the scourges of Western Society: radicalized, murderous zealotry.
Perhaps, Global Affairs was being excessively cautious, lest Mr. Tassone’s example serve as a role model for counter-radicalization in Canada. Maybe, to be unkind, they were reflecting on the potential implications for pensions in Veterans Affairs. Maybe, they were just were not prepared to move swiftly to do what is immediate and right by making all efforts to recover the remains of the young Italian Canadian boy.
Nazzareno has become a “Canadian hero”. Or so we thought, at first.
Here was a young boy who really believed he was doing his part to make the world a better place. After all, is there a political personality who does not decry the Evil that is Daesh/ISIS/ISIL? Should people stop their ears when our political leaders wax publicly about the dangers of international terrorist organizations?
Nazzareno couldn’t. For him, the political leadership was really issuing a call to arms. He responded. A civic commitment, no doubt. Something that an increasing number of naysayers are criticising. Shame on them.
Why did he do it, they ask? Why didn’t he mind his own business? Like Nathan Cirillo, Nazareno thought it was his business. What happens in the Middle East has repercussions here in Canada and elsewhere?
The current government of Canada has dedicated a whole department and commensurate resources to dealing with a miniscule portion of the Syrian Refugee consequences of those repercussions. The very least it can do now is go into overdrive to recover his remains so that his family can provide for a dignified burial. A Canadian citizen deserves no less.
One of my fondest childhood memories is that of hanging a big stocking at the foot of the bed on the eve of the feast of the Epiphany, January 5th.
Many children, like me, on that magical night would impatiently await the arrival of the Befana. We would dream of receiving toys and goodies from the kind old lady. Some of us would also have nightmares of waking up to stockings stuffed with ashes and charcoal instead.
The legend has it that, during that night that “was so deep”, the dear old lady had an encounter with the Magi who were on their way to pay homage to baby Jesus. The three Kings invited her to join them on their journey to Bethlehem. But she refused claiming that she was too busy with household chores.
After some reflection, however, she realized that perhaps she should have followed the three illustrious dignitaries coming from the East. She grabbed her magic broom and flew out the door in a desperate effort to reach Gaspar and company.
Alas, she was not able to find the three voyageurs even with her ion charged flying broom. When a unique life-changing opportunity is missed, many of us often try to desperately go back and recapture that moment over and over again, even though most of the time it may be too late.
And so, two thousand years later, the good Befana is still trying to find the grotto in Bethlehem. She travels from house to house searching and delivering gifts to good boys and girls just as the Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus.
Times and customs have indeed changed and certainly the tradition of the Befana has been replaced by that of Santa Claus. But even today from the story of the Befana we can extract a moral for children and grownups alike.
Aside from the obvious adage that good children will receive gifts as just recompense for their good deeds, in my opinion there is a deeper moral here and that is to do good whenever the opportunity presents itself even if we are taken up with our busy everyday schedule.
TORONTO - By virtually any barometer, Italy is a major player for Canada. It is the 9th largest economy in the world; a significant trading partner for us (one in need of our valuable natural resources); the 4th most popular destination place for tourism; a centre for culture, innovation, design and cutting edge manufacturing, and, now most significantly, given our interests in having the CETA ratified, the 3rd largest economy in Europe (about 50% bigger than Canada by GDP).
Italy’s Diaspora comprises 5% of Canada’s population, one that continues to distinguish itself for its fierce attachment to Canada, its progressive forward-looking sense of nation-building, its self-reliance and its global perspectives.
Building on those assets, over the last several years, Canada’s relatively youthful leadership had begun to foster closer ties to their Italian counterpart. This was until recently, most notable in the relationship that was developing between the two Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and his younger colleague, Matteo Renzi.
Alas, things have not been going well for that alliance and convergence of interests lately. Renzi, once (and still) a dynamic agent for change, is being challenged by the public and his Party, the ruling Democratic Party.
Italy, despite its culture and refinement, may well be home to the most unruly of populations. It is a characteristic cultivated over the millennia as the Peninsula became subjected to one invader after another. Over the latter part of 2016, dissatisfaction with Renzi gave birth to a slogan his political enemies used to “malign” the youthful Renzi: authority yes, but not authoritarianism.
It seemed that Nature and International events joined in a conspiracy to undermine his “decisiveness”.
The surprise Brexit outcome, and later the improbable victory of Trump, gave new life to the objections of an ever-intemperate Opposition. It claimed that Europe was of little use to Italy’s growing problems: a stagnant economy; unheard of levels of unemployment among women and millennials – approaching 55% in some regions of the South; 300,000 refugees literally “fished out of the waters” of the Mediterranean in the last two years (Canada has accommodated 30,000 in the last 16 months).
In August (and September), earthquakes levelled several towns and caused hundreds of casualties. That would test any leadership. Last week the price tag for rescue, reconstruction and restoration came in at a staggering 32 billion Canadian dollars.
Then, in December, he lost his bid to transform the political architecture of the Italian government, when the YES side suffered defeat in a national referendum. Some of the Leaders in his own Party urged on the NO vote. Italians, initially pleased to see Renzi as potentially the lead player in the remaking of Europe, turned the Referendum vote into a proxy battle against globalism and immigration.
Renzi resigned the Premiership, installed one of his loyalists as Prime Minister, shuffled his Cabinet and initiated the process for restructuring his Party. But, “it never rains unless it pours”. One of his close associates lost the vote to become President of the European Commission, to another Italian with Centre-Right background, in January.
During a PD convention to determine the party’s future last weekend, Renzi became the punching bag for every one who had a bone or a nit to pick with him. Renzi gave better than he got.
Practitioners of political science in Italy are artists in oratory and professionals in ideology and philosophy. It is a potent mixture that masks an otherwise naked thirst for power. There are “public intellectuals” by the dozens, none of them political waifs or ingénues.
Italians prefer their political strife to be resolved in the open. It makes for great theatre. But the PD is weakened and in tatters. Italy’s value to Canada as an ally in Europe and the World stage will suffer a temporary setback, at least until there is a political reset.