Corriere Canadese

The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher
 
TORONTO - Surrrrprise ...the Hon Andrew Scheer, MP, is now Leader of the Conservatives
Almost immediately, he gave an indication of a certain “charm, charisma even”, that belies the youthful, baby-faced looks of a season politician. “I’ll wear a name tag”, he tweeted in response yto Media critics who asked “Who is Andrew Scheer?”
He doesn’t need to do so. At 6’ 6”, he’s hard to miss. He was the Speaker of the House of Commons from 2011 to 2015 – the youngest ever. Somehow, the Media missed him.
He clearly knows his way around the System and Caucus politics. He beat a Harper favourite and seasoned Conservative (a colleague and “friend” to me) in a secret ballot election when MPs from all parties choose who will be the Speaker.
I used to tease him a lot, but he has an infectious sense of humour and does not take himself seriously. When I asked him how he beat the odds-on favourite for the Speaker’s chair, he quipped “I offered better and more drinks.”
Humour aside, for this adventure, he had to demonstrate something more substantive. Keep in mind he is “only” 38 years old. He and his wife Jill have five – yes 5 – children. He must know something about responsibility.
It matters little what the colour of one’s politics might be, Andrew Scheer is now the Leader of the Official Opposition. In the event of an electoral reversal of fortune for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, the Hon. Andrew Scheer could be prime Minister.
We all have to get to know him better – for our own good. In the meanwhile, we will congratulate him and his wife on the victory.   
 
TORONTO - We cannot become complacent.  Nothing is a done deal.  That is not how we were raised.  That is not what our heritage allows.  This is not what others come to this community to copy.
I was at the community meeting on May 11, 2017.  There were over 500 of us.  A good turnout but, could be better. There are so many things wrong with the redevelopment proposal that it is difficult to pick a starting point.
One of the Architects from CS&F – the go to company for the City of Toronto regarding their redevelopment studies for the Lawrence Ave. West /Allen Rd area – supported the presentation of the ugly design of the new Columbus Centre/Dante Alighieri Academy, which, they claim is ”based on the design traditions already in place in this unique location of the city representing Italian heritage and tradition”.
The new design unveiled to the members looks exactly like the Beth Torah across the street with a mix of the Wilson Station Condos.  The Beth Torah is a rectangular prism. According to their website, a modernist building.
There are a plethora of builders Italian and-non Italian background who promote construction of Tuscan style homes - popular and trendy in upscale Toronto. They even seek out and employ architects, designers and drafts men from Italy. But, for some reason, the developers of the new site and the City of Toronto don’t want that at Dufferin and Lawrence. 
 1960’s North American modernistic design is not European at all.   Black brick on grey window panelling is only found in run down Italian factories built prior to 1960.  Perhaps that is the design the developers and the City of Toronto are hiding behind. An indication what this corner will become a factory.
The students using the high school (really just a pretext) will be the under aged, under valued work horses moving in and out on a daily basis. There to create an illusion of vibrant industrial profitable enterprise. 
Then there are the elderly, for whom these developers have complete disregard. These are our community members the developers intend to trick into purchasing living quarters in the factory. This is where they will be crammed into tiny non-livable spaces. The same spaces which will be deemed undesirable public housing in 20 years.  Guess who intends to purchase our elders’ homes to turn into luxury Italian style homes for themselves? I wouldn’t put it past them.
A member of the community spoke up and said, “Where are the options?  This is not the only option for the community to chose from”.  She was right.  
When and why weren’t any design options put on the community table for us to choose from?  We need to put pressure on our local rate payer’s association to give us answers. David DeLuca. We need more answers from the City too. Josh Colle.
This is a location inhabited by many of the same families for the last 40+ years.  Their children and grand children come back to enjoy th
e landscape and community features.  Educational staff in the 4 neighbouring schools have chosen to remain and live or continue to work regardless of their commute. Members from outside the community come to relax in this environment. Some, are even purchasing and over bidding for the expensive properties in this neighbourhood because of the accessible, enjoyable tranquil layout and amenities offered at the corner.
We want options and we want better.  The Corriere wrote an article about Greenpark homes last month. Their motto is “we build better”.  Greenpark also builds in Italy.  Hello Greenpark; we want what Italy wants. We want better.
 
Cam Dritto
 
TORONTO - Canada and Italy are bonded by a really strong relationship, boosted by an utter sharing of values and strengthened by the presence of the Italian-Canadian community in our country. That is what the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared in an exclusive interview with Corriere Canadese on the occasion of the Fundraising Event in favour of the Central-Italy population hit by the earthquake.
The leader of the Liberal Party highlighted once again how Canada and Italy share the efforts - which will be reiterated during the G7 Summit scheduled in two weeks in Taormina - to tackle problems on a global political scale on a multilateral approach.
How would you define the relationship between Canada and Italy? Do you think it would be possible to improve it from a political and economic point of view?
“The relationship between Canada and Italy is deep and beneficial for both countries. Italian-Canadians and their bond with Italy help tighten up the relationship between the two countries. But more than that, our bond is based on shared values, such as democracy and the effort to ensure a better and safer future for everyone. Canada and Italy are great friends, as members of G7 and partners in so many global initiatives. Working so closely to our Italian friends is one of those things I certainly look at as a great way to enhance our impact in the world.”
CETA will have a significant impact on this new phase of relationships between Canada and European Union and Canada and Italy. Which are your expectation from this agreement?
“We know that trade is good for economic growth. What we need to highlight is why CETA is so important is because it focuses on making sure that trade is not just good for the economy but it’s good for people. It’s good for producers, for consumers, for small businesses. Accessing a greater market gives you challenges in terms of competitively but it brings out the best in what we are doing. And it`s giving the opportunity to create new partnerships, to find new products, to develop new outlets for our creativity and hard work. This is something that is going to give tremendous benefits and deepen the connections between Europe and Canada and specifically between countries like Italy and Canada that have such a strong connection.”
In two weeks the G7 Summit will take place in Taormina. The international community will be watching closely with great expectations and, maybe, some concerns since this will be the first international meeting at high level with the American President, Donald Trump.
“First of all, let me highlight what tremendous pleasure is for me to be going back to Taormina, to Sicily. I went as a young child with my father and I have beautiful memories of being there. I very much look forward to what I know is going to be a wonderful, warm welcome. In terms of our goals for the G7, we’ve been working really hard for many years at something that Mr. Trump is very much aligned, the idea we need to start helping people who feel they have been left out from progress and success. There is a lot of citizens in all our country who are worried that the future doesn’t hold many prospects for them. We as a global community and as global leaders of G7 we need to work together to demonstrate the confidence we have in the future and give to people tools for success. These are things that I have spoken with President Trump and emphasized how working together and in a collaborative way will be mutual beneficial. And I expect to continue this conversation.”
In Italy, after the G7, you will also meet the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
“I’ve been extremely pleased to be able to welcome Prime Minister Gentiloni to Ottawa few weeks ago to begin what it`s a very important conversation lined up to the G7 on how to work together for the benefits of our citizens. I look forward to visiting him in Rome. I also look much forward to meeting Pope Francis. Again, as a young child with my father I have been able to go to the Vatican and meet with John Paul II. Now the opportunity to sit down as a global leader but also as a Catholic to reflect with the Holy Father will be something extremely emotional for me.”
Terrorism, the war in Syria, global warming, the migrants’ crisis in the Mediterranean, the geopolitical instability in the Middle East. Which is the most dangerous threat for Canada, Italy and the international community?
“You’ve named a broad range of threats that each need to be dealt with. We need to engage in thoughtfully and responsibly to keep our citizens safe but also to have a positive impact in the world. The actions in the leadership of Italy in the Mediterranean to face this real challenge of the migrants` crisis highlights that we cannot just close off and hope that the problem do not appear on our shores. We need to be more thoughtful on how to create peace and give prosperity around the world, to prevent migrants from feeling like the only option for themselves and for their children is to run terrible risks trying to leave their country. For this reason is important that the leaders of the G7 need to come together to figure out how we can have a positive impact. Paolo and I are very much aligned on that priority.”
What do you think about the role of the Italian-Canadian community in the creation of a social identity in Canada?
“One of the things that is so strong about Canada is that we figured out that diversity is a social strength. The differences make our community to be more resilient, more successful and also more creative and innovative. When you have someone who speaks different languages or comes with a problem from a different perspective and you work with him, you are more likely to be successful. You are much likely to complement each other. So that story of Canada is the one that allowed us to be more open to immigration and understand what positive benefit it can be. The Italian-Canadian community is one the best examples. People came over in the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties with very little money in their pockets who built tremendous success, and not just a success for their own community but also for our country. This is a lesson that for me should  be celebrated and shared with the rest of the world that echoed from one generation to the next. People coming now from Syria and from elsewhere are going to be contributive to this country in extraordinary ways in three years, five years, ten or twenty years their children will be bonded and also so grateful to this country as much as they will be bonded and grateful to their Syrian roots. And that model has been demonstrated marvellously by the Italian community. It`s such a treasure of which we can be so proud.”
 
The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher
 
TORONTO - Over 500 people, standing room only, crowded the Yorkdale Secondary School cafetorium, Thursday night, for two and a half hours. It was a mandated “consultation” held by City Planners, conducted by Cathy Ferguson of the Planning department, on the proposed shared use facility between Villa Charities Inc (a private developer of seniors’ condos) and the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
The meeting started late. The technology for the presentation had not been adequately tested. 
The crowd was irritable from the “get go”. It had come with a seemingly determined and singular purpose: keep what assets the community had, and enjoyed, away from the wrecker’s ball.
“You can quote us”, Elena Mancini, Mary Nardi and Yolanda Caruso volunteered, “we want to keep our Columbus Centre; they have no right to take it away from us. We seniors have needs and we shouldn’t be so easily dismissed”. The meeting had yet to begin.
When it did, the verbal barrage launched against those in favour of the proposal was sustained and angry.
Trustee Maria Rizzo, who only a week previously maintained that a pool and a covered track were unaffordable and therefore out of the question, tried in vain to point out that the “new proposal” now accommodated both. The new CEO at Villa chimed in that there had been an unanimous vote by his Board to support a swimming pool. 
Democracy is, on occasion, a messy exercise - both found out the hard way; they were shouted down.
Councillor Josh Colle did not fare much better. He jumped on a table to be seen and heard, but he appeared to favour the proposal, offering that (1) the laneway reserved for the “fallen workers” would be protected and (2) the Church would stay where it was. In fact, he had written the Cardinal on the matter. “This cannot be the only consultation”, he said. That seemed to re-ignite anger.
It did not help when the Planner, Ms. Ferguson, retook the microphone to explain that the application for the proposal prompted requests for zoning by-law amendments because “a school is not permitted on the site”. 
This is just the beginning of the process, she said, unable to calm the shouts of opposition.
Intervenors, some with more emotion than others, began to dissect the proposal, calling into question its honesty and that of the two organizations behind it.
Odoardo Di Santo, Former MPP (advocate of Workers’ Rights, Social Rights issues) as well as former Chair of the WSIB, outlined the inconsistency between the “numbers and the claims in the proposal”. 
Four minus two do not equal five, he said comparing the quantities of spaces lost to those “to be re-acquired post construction”and concluded angrily that “we are talking about the destruction of Columbus Centre as our cultural legacy”. He was supported by deafening applause.
An intervenor who followed pointed out that the initial proposal for all of Site 2 called for the construction of 3,000 condo units and ended with “do you think they are doing this for us?”
Mary Gatzos, the consultant for the Developer, protested that those numbers were in the original proposal but that the City had scaled it down to 2,400 units, asking (in the process) Villa Inc if the development “was appropriate” for the community.
The mix of professionals, entrepreneurs, residents and Columbus Centre members were loud in their view that it was not. Lawrence Princevero, “I’ve been a member for 37 years and a volunteer for 40 – this proposal is a total disrespect for the people – now Seniors – who built this Community. If you want to build a third school on the site, build it on the 4 acres of property occupied by the Sisters of the Good Sheppard; that will be available soon”. 
It was abundantly clear that no one seemed impressed with the “vision” of the proposal.
Another resident at the microphone argued – to great applause - that “the Cardinal does not need to destroy the Community just to get another school”. Distrust and dishonesty surfaced as underlying themes at the base of the manifest anger.
Joe Nobrega of the Wenderley Park Ratepayers Association demanded: “be honest and tell us what you plan to do with the other two thirds of the Site”; you have four other places to build a school without tearing down the Columbus Centre.
Impatience and frustration became the order of the meeting. 
One (non-Italian) Senior opined that she wanted “to use the facility all day, not just when the students were no longer there”. 
Yet another lamented the loss of the Carrier Gallery – this unique location for culture and the visual arts in the city – and the Piazza Italia. 
Though not Italian, “I am proud to be a part of the culture represented by the place”, she pleaded, “don’t destroy what has taken a generation to build.” 
Elio Costa, an activist University professor, observed, as did his politically polar opposite, Franco Misuraca, that the Columbus Centre has been, for two generations, the Cultural Centre for the Italian community and to others who look to it for leadership in community building. “How did this concept [demolish and share use of diminished replacement] come about. Who is responsible?” he asked.
Someone identified as Renato affirmed “they want you to think about the school so that they can build the condos – you are being used”; he warned. Who is the unmentioned “they”?
The last speaker, Paul Cavalluzzo, a renowned constitutional lawyer, summed up as follows: this is an issue of transparency and accountability; who made this decision and under what authority? I think the whole process should start over again, he said.
North York Community Council resumes considerations on June 13.
 
TORONTO - What is missing is transparency. Transparency regarding Casa d’Italia and Columbus Centre. This is what Franco Misuraca, representative of the Comitato Tricolore in Canada, observes on the matter of two rather delicate issues affecting the Italian-Canadian community today.
A common theme runs through both: the possible destruction of buildings that are symbols of the Italian-Canadian identity in Toronto. They will be sacrificed for sake of property development.
“The history of Casa d ’Italia’ is well documented; it cannot be made up or changed”, Misuraca emphasizes. “All Italian-Canadians of the pre-war period took part in its realization. And we can’t forget its historical and symbolic value. Moreover,” he adds, “it’s one of the few monument we have.”
“Action, according to the long-standing representative of the political Right [Italian variety] in Toronto, is now required in order to protect and safeguard a heritage that belongs to the whole community.”
He continues, “I don’t know where the idea of this property development came from, but I wonder why the community is always the last to know. This having been said, one can appreciate why Italian-Canadians demand these matters to be shared out in the open and not dealt with behind the scenes”.
“We who are part of the community have no intention of sitting idly by,” says Misuraca firmly. “I’m committed to collecting signatures that will be sent to the President of the Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify on these events”.
However, the need of safeguard and preserve our common heritage concerns the Columbus Centre as well. It could be demolished in case the proposed deal between Villa Charities Inc and the Toronto District Catholic School Board receives a green light.
He reminisces. “I was here when the Columbus Centre was designed and built. I saw our citizens make their contribution to the effort. Some of them with 20$, some others with 50 or 100. We are talking about a Centre that belongs to the Community.”
He pauses. “What is the connection between the Catholic School Board and the Italian-Canadian Community? The School Board is an institution financed by the citizens of Toronto through taxes. In my opinion, it should just deal with the administration of schools and students. We criticize Erdogan (the President of Turkey) when we are living in first person this situation – the Few decide without the consensus of the Majority”.
Harsh words, maybe, but they come after the almost two months- long, burning debates. This evening’s meeting at Yorkdale Secondary School will be an extremely important part of the sequence.