Mr. Speaker, in this place we tend to debate most often the subjects we tend to disagree on. However, one subject on which I believe we do have agreement is recognizing the unique contribution of Italian Canadians. When I mentioned to a constituent recently that I would be speaking in support of this, I received an enthusiastic response that included references to pizza, pasta, art, sculpture, and the things associated with being uniquely Italian.
The real purpose of my stating my support today is ultimately to recognize the people, those Italian Canadians who have truly enriched this great country. Let me explain what I mean by that. There was a time when a point of view on immigration was that new Canadians should abandon the culture that they originated from to adopt the Canadian way. In the case of many Italian Canadians, and to be clear I am not of Italian ancestry, Italian culture was not only embraced, it was shared. Indeed, in many communities across our great country, including in Ottawa, there is a Little Italy. I am certain I am not alone in expressing my fondness for visiting areas such as these. It is because of regions such as these that our communities have been enhanced and our knowledge has been expanded. Today we often call this multiculturalism. However, to many Italian Canadians I have met it is simply the friendly way to treat friends and neighbours, through sharing and enjoying all that life has to offer.
In Kelowna, as an example, the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club is celebrating 50 years in the community. That is a very exciting milestone. The club wants to share its achievement with the entire community. Some members might ask what Italian Canadian clubs do. Yes, they promote the Italian language and culture through food and music and wine. Really, where could you go wrong with that? Most important, they also give back to the community and participate in many community fundraisers. As an example, recently the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club raised over $13,000 to help earthquake victims, which is a very impressive feat considering the club just has around 130 member families.
I am not certain how many Italian Canadian clubs we have in Canada; nor do I know how many communities have their own Little Italy as an integral part of their community. What I do know is that all of us, Italian Canadian or not, have an understanding of the Italian culture, language, and a unique way of enjoying life, often through celebration; and not just celebration but hard work and innovation. As a former city councillor, when we upgraded a waste-water treatment plant, for many of the systems the advanced technology was designed in Italy; and much of the work, when it was brought over, was recognized as world leading. In speaking to many of the people who work for the municipality, they appreciated those innovations. Italians across the world, particularly those Italian Canadians who share that heritage, are very proud of the quality.
This extends to more than just a small area of public infrastructure. I know from Brutus Bodies trucks in Penticton, of which Nor-Mar Industries is the holding company, they use Italian cranes, which is one of the reasons why their products are in such demand. When a business deals with highly reputable companies that are innovative and that have such ties to Canada, it is much easier to sell that product.
In addition to the innovation, I just want to again loop back to the growing ties between Canada and Italy. My grandfather, who recently passed away—God bless him— served in North Africa and eventually in Italy. He told me, with the utmost respect that he had for the Italian people, about the difficulties many of them had during World War II. His love for the country only grew as the years went on.
The love and ties Italian Canadians have brought to this country have enriched our culture and our understanding and have grown our ties in trade.
It is my understanding that we will be discussing the comprehensive economic trade agreement between Canada and the European Union next week. I have spoken to the House about many of these innovative water systems. I have spoken about the cranes that Nor-Mar uses for its vehicles. All of these things will suddenly have tariff-free access. People will have greater access to Italians, and Italy will have greater access to Canadians with services and skills and shared understanding that will make both countries better.
While I am still on my feet and have the opportunity, I would like to thank the sponsoring member of the bill for his time and for the ability to share a bit of the enrichment I and many people in Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola have had because of the Italian Canadian community.