Corriere Canadese

02renziclintonRenzi: “Italy’s challenges are a test for Europe and North America”

by The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO - The photo-ops are done. They might even have served their purpose for all sides concerned.

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the world stage as a co-chair of a significant forum, showing his “stuff” on the serious topic of Immigration and Refugees, emphasized that the need to focus on the “humanitarian side” of proactive problem solving and international engagement. Canada used to do that. Some would argue that the timing is appropriate to get serious about it again.

Matteo Renzi, Italy’s counterpart, providing perspective and solutions on the demographic tsunami disrupting European and International relations – topical in the USA electoral debate environment. More significant for Italy whose resources are being depleted by a veritable invasion of over 20,000 desperate men and women from African ports per month – every month – by sea.

Hillary Clinton, by proxy (via her husband’s foundation), associated herself to Renzi thanks to the award her husband bestowed on Italy’ Premier as Global Citizen Award for Immigration.

Barack Obama, hosted Matteo Renzi for dinner at the White House as a sign of his approval for the work that Renzi is providing on the international front in a very hot political environment still crucial to American interests – the Mediterranean basin, and by extension the greater Middle East.

Ahmed Rahami, the disrupter/terrorist in New York, as a proxy for the enemies of Western Societies, who, by his failed (happily) efforts reminded everyone that great words need to be followed by deeds if some type of normalcy is to be restored on the world stage.

Canada is fortunate to find itself in a position where it can still spend time discussing without the urgency of bombast thrust upon the citizenry by intemperate public office-seekers or by armies/hordes of displaced peoples massed up against their borders.

Clinton and Obama needed to attach themselves to someone (Renzi), and someplace (Italy) that is still willing to offer alternatives to “walls and mass deportation” as a public policy to address the economic implications of involuntary demographic displacements.

Rahami and his ilk are the fuel added to the fire being spewed by political elements a’ la Trump in the USA and, increasingly, Europe.

Intolerance is fast becoming the order of the day as extremist populate the public space and infiltrate otherwise civilized Western political parties. This is disturbingly so in countries like Germany and France. Worse in smaller States like Austria, Hungary and Greece.

“Keep them out” and “send them back” is the rallying cry of right-wing groups whose growing political power threatens to dismember the political cohesion of the European Union. It should not be too difficult to recall the eventual consequences of something similar to the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

For now, Italy stands virtually alone as a European nation prepared to apply long-term strategies to what everyone calls the “Refugee and Immigration” problem, but is in reality not much less than an “invasion”.

Its resolve may be tested if Renzi loses the Constitutional Referendum later this Fall. Jingoists and “Anti- Anybodies” seem to surface like weeds in a garden. After the French and Germans enter their election cycles next year, the only stable place in Europe may actually be Italy.

Renzi was in New York and Washington to press the point. He needs to win that Referendum to maintain his “legitimacy”. Clinton and Obama did what they could to provide “moral support”.

But it isn’t all one direction. It didn’t hurt Clinton with her large Italian-American constituency to be associated with Italy’s First Citizen.

It is unfortunate that a proposed Official visit by Renzi to Canada had to be deferred.

(Wednesday 21 September 2016)

Download "Renzi: “Italy’s challenges are a test for Europe and North America”"