Corriere Canadese

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matera1TORONTO - The Matera - Toronto “twinning” proposal received further injection of support on Friday, September 23 when the Basilicata Society group led by Frank Miele met with Mayor John Tory. The group (Dan Montesano, Sam Primucci and Pat Tremamunno) was accompanied by MP Judy Sgro on this occasion to present the key to Matera.

03italianosalvoIncoherency at York Catholic should never be rewarded

by Francesco Veronesi

VAUGHAN - An effort to kill the Italian language programmes in the Catholic schools of York Region has failed, for now. Board meetings of last spring and summer revealed deep divisions within the Board itself on a matter of profound importance to our community.

On one side of the issue, four Trustees – Dino Giuliani, Theresa McNicol, Maria Marchese and Domenic Mazzotta – did their utmost to save the Italian language studies programme from the proposed cuts. Offering instead that the Board examine alternative cost-cutting measures.

On the other side, a bloc of four other trustees, Cathy Ferlisi, Marlene Mogado, Teresa Ciaravella, Ann Stong allied with the Chair Carol Cotton and Vice Chair Elizabeth Crowe to sacrifice the International Languages Extended Day program for Budgetary reasons.

The rationale went something like this: the cost of the programme had become unsustainable, and without additional funding the program offered in 23 schools for 8500 children should be cut.

At tis point, a comfort letter by Centro Scuola committing to find up to $500,000 annually has removed the Board from an uncomfortable situation, given that the community was hardening its position against the cuts.

It is this context, that the actions of one trustee in particular, Cathy Ferlisi, merit scrutiny.

Starting in October of 2015, when the issue of cuts first came to the forefront, the trustee for Vaughan-Concord-Thornhill sided with those who favoured slashing the program. She told the Corriere at the time that she preferred that the money be spent on more Relgious Studies. Only the question of conflict by two trustees, who had to absent themselves as a consequence from the vote, allowed the programme to escape the knife.

In the intervening months that followed, Ferlisi was one the more zealous promoters of eliminating the programme, justifying herself this time with the need to balance the budget.

At the June 14 meeting of the Board earlier in the year, Trustees, following the lead of Cathy Ferlisi, voted down a conciliatory motion by Trustee Mazzotta to resolve the matter. Instead they approved two Motions presented by Ms. Ferlisi that imposed upon the community the obligation to provide guarantees for $1,000,000 – in addition to the funds currently made available by the Italian government through Centro Scuola – by December 2016 or the programme would die.

We have attempted to contact Ms. Ferlisi in an effort to understand the motivations behind this seemingly aggressive disposition against the Italian language, without ever receiving a response.

Then, on September 28, she decided to climb aboard the “victory float”. After the letter by Centro Scuola was received and accepted by the Board, she tweeted a letter (reprinted in our pages on September 30) expressing satisfaction at the outcome and declaring her continuing support for Italian language studies. This is the programme whose elimination she was assiduously pursuing for the better part of two years.

In any event, in twenty months Trustees will need to go to their electorate. The parents of those 8500 children and others will have an opportunity to approve or not the actions of trustees and the “coherency” of their positions during the mandate.

(Monday 3 October 2016)

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02 debateDeciphering who will win the American election 2016

by The Hon. Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO - The Trump phenomenon continues to “baffle” spectators and potential voters alike. Whether you think the Presidential race to replace Barack Obama is important to you personally or not, the contest will carry significant ramifications for us in Canada, and elsewhere.

After watching the now famous debate between Clinton and Trump, along with the estimated 85 million television viewers, some (not Trump supporters) are asking how was this guy allowed to enter the race?

Others are wondering how anyone, let alone 33% of viewers, could think of him as the winner of the debate. I confess to be one of the skeptics; but winning the debate does not necessarily mean winning the election. At least not yet, because no one has cast a legitimate, recognized vote.

The anticipation of that election is nonetheless focusing the attention of many in Toronto. In Toronto’s Italo-Canadian coffee bars, Trump is being compared to Silvio Berlusconi (fellow member of the multi-billionaire club, and, like the Donald, a “connoisseur of the fairer sex”). But, Silvio was actually capable of pronouncing coherent, cogent, grammatically correct statements of policy.

The electorate seemed to put up with his indiscretions until he “went overboard”. Donald is appealing to a different crowd. The one that is already “overboard”.

We didn’t just willy-nilly get here, explained Peter Hart, American Pollster, political consultant and advisor to those in position of power and influence in the USA. He was speaking to a lunch-time crowd of Business and Professional persons (overwhelmingly male) at the Fairmont Royal York, who had come to hear his insights into the post debate prognostications.

No-one can tell who will win the election, he said, offering three factors that should breed cautious predictions, no matter whom you support. Other pollsters in the room, who also double as “talking heads”, took notes feverishly.

Firstly, this is the dirtiest, nastiest most malicious campaign ever! It is reflective of a decline in collective sense of decorum. Nothing is out of bounds. Nothing said seems to offend any discernable sense of morality, common decency or compass of social responsibility.

Trump can and will say anything and it will only re-enforce his “brand”, because a segment of our [America]society plays out reality TV. Civility is absent. He can get away with lying shamelessly and refer to his opponent as “Crooked Hillary” with impunity.

Everything and anything is fair game. It will only get worse according to Hart, because his base support agrees with anything he says. The more outrageous his utterings, the more “liberated” his followers are likely to feel.

Secondly, the hollowing out of the Middle Class and the wage disparity resulting from the banking crisis and subsequent Recession of 2008-2009 has created an anger directed towards those in power (Clinton being one) – especially among those between the ages of 18 and 34.

Hart maintains that the key to understanding the politics of these Millenials is contained in the appreciation of the perceived lack of opportunity as a result of this wage disparity and the distortions in the economy once so successfully structured by their parents’ generation.

Now “the rich are getting richer”, the “poor are getting poorer” and the number in the middle is getting smaller.

That middle – the Centre – tends towards moderation. The “bookends” tend towards more extreme positioning on the eco-political scale. Curiously, Trump, an iconic representative of the uber- rich “1% ers”, seems to be immune from the anger of his polar opposites.

His intemperate statements are fodder for that anger. Clinton has the more arduous task of presenting “balance and hope”, while Trump feasts on messages of “blame and despair” - unless he emerges as “the Man”.

He may yet succeed for a third reason, says Hart: the decline of Professionalism, or rather the acceptance of amateuristic standards in the communications industry/profession. And, here there is a connection to the first consideration on the question of collective social responsibility.

I-phones, the internet, Facebook and twitter accounts have freed “posters” from any discipline or obligation to research and to provide “rhyme and reason” in support of opinion. Bloggers are today’s journalists.

Too often they revel in irresponsible attacks thanks to their relative anonymity. The public discourse is reduced to bite sized “tit-for-tat”. It is now acceptable to hear the equivalent of “oh yeah, well your mother wears army boots” and “up your nose with a rubber hose” as appropriate ripostes on serious issues of national economic and social concerns.

At this, Trump is masterful. The alternative is to consider him a total idiot. As tempting as that judgement may be to some, people still find him “interesting”, even attractive.

Hart ended his presentation with a simple provocative question: “if you found yourself stranded somewhere and had to share a room with either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, whom would you choose?” In a room filled with professionals, overwhelmingly male in gender, the vast majority said Trump.

Why? Because he is more interesting, was the answer.

Clinton would seem to have one advantage, though. The Democrats are more united around her candidacy than the Republicans are around the Donald.

In democracy where “people still vote with their feet”, an organization that can succeed in getting out the identified voters will win in the end, pollsters and debates notwithstanding.

(Monday 3 October 2016)

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Some Oxygen for the Italian Language in Catholic Schools

TORONTO - The YCDSB seems to have struck a truce on the issue of International language studies – the “Extended Day” language program.

Twenty-three schools that offered Italian language classes to 8,500 children in elementary schools were in danger of losing this service. The Staff and [some] Trustees threatened to cut the Extended Day Program as part of its effort to reduce the Board fiscal deficit.

The Board’s total budget approved this year was $660.9 million. The ED Program, already financed in part by Centro Scuola (a surrogate for the Italian government on language instruction in Canada) costs the Board approximately $295,000 per year. It also receives a subsidy from the Provincial government.

03centroscuola

In May - June, of this year, the Board, perhaps emboldened by the apparent fervour of Trustee Ferlisi to eliminate the program, issued an ultimatum.

If the community wants, they can pay for it, they seemed to say. They passed a motion that in effect outlined a deadline for the community to provide $1,000,000 in guarantees for the next four year of the program would end.

A Banker/parent, a political aspirant and Diplomats from Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal seemed to “rally” to satisfy the “pay or else” demands of the Board and Trustees Ferlisi and Ciaravella in particular.

Centro Scuola presented a “comfort letter” - a “guarantee” - to this effect. It offered up to $500,000 per year to cover the costs of the program.

The letter (reprinted on this page) was presented as an Agenda item, along with a Report by the Director on the issue, and accepted by the Board.

In the interim, the government of Ontario had been asked to consider including International Languages Study as part of the Curriculum. That consideration may now be “off the table”.

The Consul General when contacted on the matter by email offered the following: Centro Scuola receives $200,000 from Italian authorities for transfer to YCDSB; the director will in all likelihood taken out a line of credit to cover the difference until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can allocate the balance.

YCDSB and Centro Scuola's Director Domenico Servello, contacted by Corriere Canadese, confirmed that the Program will continue thanks to additional funds provided by Centro Scuola.

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(Friday 30 September 2016)

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09tafelmusikProdigious Elisa Citterio at Tafelmusik

by Sebastiano Bazzichetto

TORONTO - It was the 17th of July 1717 - a kabbalistic date, some astronomers said - when Händel’s “Water Music” was premiered on the River Thames to satisfy the request (and obey the order) of King George I, to please his majesty and a handful of aristocrats sailing to Chelsea.

Last performed as part of the ensemble’s debut at Carnegie Hall in 2009, Tafelmusik kicked off its season with Händel’s masterpiece last Thursday. For our Italian pride, outstanding violinist Elisa Citterio, who returned following her stunning Tafelmusik debut last November (also in conversation with us on these pages last year), was guest directing the entire concert.

Thanks to her brio and unmistakable musical attitude, the audience enjoyed a night of great music with firework-like (another Händel’s masterpiece) notes. Citterio will be back in Toronto at the beginning of May 2017 to co-direct Mozart’s “Mass in C minor”. Some of Tafelmusik’s new season highlights feature a series of unmissable concerts.

In December, “A Grand Tour of Italy” will take us back to the days of Corelli, Uccellini and Vivaldi, whereas in the spring we’ll be able to enjoy some concerts by the Bach family thanks to Italian oboist Alfredo Bernardini and his daughter, Cecilia, a renowned violinist.

At the end of March, “The Baroque Diva” will thrill our ears with the enthralling arias composed for 17th century virtuosos, before yielding to Mozart and his genius, grand Mass.

(For more information, tafelmusik.org)

(Thursday 29 September 2016)

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