House of Commons Hansard #177 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was community.

Topics

The House resumed from November 18, 2016 consideration of the motion.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak to Motion No. 64, Italian heritage month. As deputy critic for Canadian heritage for our party, I certainly support the motion.

The first Italian to land in Canada was the explorer Giovanni Caboto. That was back in 1497. He is better known to us as John Cabot. The first settlement of Italians in Canada did not occur, though, until 1865, when soldiers from areas of what is present-day Italy were recruited by the French army.

Italians also served with the British military in lower Canada during the war of 1812. When their regiments were disbanded in 1816, some of the soldiers stayed in Canada, settling in Ontario and in the Eastern Townships.

The first significant wave of Italian immigration began in the early 1870s, until 1914. With the construction of the railroad in Canada, demand for workers was sensational. The second wave occurred between 1920 and 1930, and the greatest number of Italians came to this country between 1950 and the 1970s.

Leaving Italy, of course, was not easy for many of them. One Italian immigrant commented:

I know that my father loved his family, his home and his country and the experience of leaving it all behind must have been heartbreaking, nonetheless he pressed on towards the Canadian shores to give his family a new...life.

Those who came to Canada after World War II came from a war-torn country to build a better life for their families. There were very few jobs in Italy, so a number of families decided to make the move to Canada. Many came to Canada with just a suitcase in their hand, and that was all they had.

Today, there are approximately 1.4 million Canadians of Italian descent. Of the 10,000 who live in Saskatchewan, the majority live in Saskatoon and Regina. About 3,000 make Saskatoon their home, and almost a third live in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood.

The Italian culture is rich in tradition. We all know that. When one of my Italian constituents was asked to describe what Italians are like, she replied, “We are very resilient, hard-working, and hospitable. We love to socialize. We believe in unconditional love, and family means everything to us. We are very proud of our culture.”

What was it like for a family to leave Italy and come to Canada? One member of the Saskatoon Italian community, Rosemarie Palidwor, shares her family's story: “My parents, along with other Italian families, immigrated to Canada, to Saskatoon, in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. They were young. They were motivated, and they wanted a better life. They were told that Canada was a 'land of opportunity', a place to put down roots and raise a family. With some Italians already in Saskatoon, they were sponsored, so, on borrowed money, they chose to leave Italy and take the journey to what they hoped would be the beginning of a wonderful new life.

“It was a cold day on November 22, 1959 when my parents arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax, after spending two long weeks on the ocean. To this day, my mother is still afraid of water and becomes seasick at the thought of being in a boat. My mother was four months pregnant with my sister at the time.”

“Upon arrival, it did not take long for excitement to turn into anxiety and much uncertainty: not being able to speak English, no means of transportation, and no jobs. The first few years were especially hard. A tight network of family and friends certainly helped my parents through the tough times. They were able to lean on this support group and begin to build the life they were hoping for.

“The prairie winters were long and very cold. Italian immigrants who were new to Saskatoon were taught how to make preserves for the winter months. Italians were resourceful, and they looked for ways to save money for their first house. Many families rented a garden plot of a dollar from the City of Saskatoon at the corner of 33rd Street and Avenue P. They planted lots of tomatoes. It was not uncommon for Italian gardens to have 200 tomato plants. They made a lot of delicious tomato sauce and canned the sauce for the winter months. Many families purchased freezers, which came in very handy throughout the year.

“As time went on, there was an opportunity to learn English. Many Italians would go once a week to the Gathercole building in downtown Saskatoon to learn the English language.

“The majority of Italian immigrants worked in low-paying, manual jobs, as cleaners or construction workers. My father, like many of the men, had very little or no education, but they were skilled tradesmen. Many were bricklayers, carpenters, stonemasons, and tile setters. In fact, my current home was built by Angie and Joe Iula of Valentino Homes in Saskatoon. It is the finest craftsmanship. We had it built by the Italian couple in 1989.

“Everyone worked hard during the week, and everyone looked forward to the weekend, much as we do today. It was a time of getting together for playing cards, eating good food, and drinking homemade Italian wine. The old saying held true: 'work hard, play hard'. I am very proud to say that many of my family members went on to become successful entrepreneurs in Saskatoon, my father included.

“I also grew up with many family traditions. Sundays were always family days that began with mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church, and then a pasta dinner shared with aunties, uncles, and cousins. Italians are a strong faith-based community. Christmas and Easter are two very important religious celebrations. Attending mass at Christmas and Easter is at the heart of these celebrations.

“Many Italians love to make wine. Every September, the Italian men in my family would order copious amounts of grapes in crates from California. Families would get together and set up shop in a relative's garage to make wine that would last a year. This was a family tradition, and everyone would help take the grapes off the vines and place them into a vat, where they would be crushed. As much as this was labour-intensive for an entire day, it was also a celebration, with Italian music, food, and last year's wine, a true celebration of all that life has to offer, family and good health. This tradition is still carried on today in my garage with my children, nieces, and nephews.”

Italian culture is rich in tradition. Italians, through their hard work and generosity, have helped to make our community strong, vibrant, and beautiful.

There are many famous Canadians of Italian descent. For example, Guy Lombardo was born in London, Ontario and became a world-famous band leader. Michael Bublé is a singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He was born in Burnaby, B.C. He has won several awards, including four Grammys and multiple Junos. His Christmas albums have become a staple in many homes at that time of year. Meghan Agosta played for the Canadian women's ice hockey team. She represented Canada in the 2006, 2010, and 2014 winter Olympics. She won gold medals at all three and was named the most valuable player in the 2010 games. She has also played at the women's world championships three times, capturing one gold and two silver medals.

There is no doubt that Italians have contributed significantly to the prosperity and the fabric of this country, and that is why I support Motion No. 64 here today for a designated Italian heritage month.

I want to thank Rosemarie Palidwor, as well as many others in Saskatoon for their contribution to this presentation, including Dominic Iula, Francesca and Paola Fortugno, Rocchina Frassetto, and Anna Lorenz.

I support Italian heritage month and Motion No. 64.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak in favour of Motion No. 64, a motion recognizing June as Italian heritage month in Canada. First, I have to admit some limitations in my ability to speak about Italian heritage.

I grew up in a decidedly un-Italian household. My parents were quiet Anglo-Saxon Protestants. There was no wine in the house, no grappa, no garlic. Like many people, I have sent off DNA samples to learn more about my family history. I do not have the results back yet, and I know the ads all say that people will be surprised with the results, but I can say that I would be truly surprised if the results suggested I have any amount of Italian blood in me.

I had my first real contact with Italian culture at the end of 1977 and early 1978, when I spent a week over New Year's in Naples, staying with a Napolitano friend and his family. The exuberant meals, always accompanied by generous amounts of wine, loud talking, and wild hand gestures, were truly exciting events, even though I understood almost nothing of what was going on. I can still taste the spaghetti vongole.

About a year later, I met my future wife in Vancouver. Margaret's parents were born in the Grand Forks area of British Columbia, but her father's parents had come from Sweden and her mother's parents, the Mazzocchis, from Italy. The Mazzocchis had come to British Columbia from a tiny village in northern Italy called Segromigno, known for the exceptional quality of its olives. The family reunions I went to with Margaret, usually held in the Mazzocchi homestead in Fife, just above Christina Lake, immediately reminded me of those meals in Naples. I really liked this family I had the good fortune to join.

I learned about special Italian foods. My favourite is the flat, waffle-like cookies called pizzelle, although the Mazzocchis call them cialde. I volunteer to make a double batch of those every year at Christmas. My wife makes antipasto most years, but that is so labour-intensive I am happy to leave that task to her and other members of the extended family.

I learned to drink a glass of wine at every meal, but I must admit I have failed at making drinkable wine myself. I admit I have not tried Buddy DeVito's recipe for making grappa with grape skins and raisins. I learned how to grow good tomatoes, and I learned to play bocce, although recently I discovered that the Mazzocchis play by different rules than the rest of the world.

The centre of Italian culture in my riding is the city of Trail. Trail had its start as a hub for the early mining industry in the Kootenays. As mines were developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Trail smelter was built. Now owned by Teck Resources, it is one of the biggest lead-zinc smelters in the world and has been the biggest employer in the region for decades. These were well-paying jobs. By the 1940s, Trail workers had some of the highest annual incomes in Canada.

Railways were mapped out through the mountains to serve industry, agriculture, and the growing population, and labourers were needed to build them. Italian stonemasons built spectacular sections of rock walls where the rails ran along precipitous mountainsides.

Immigrants came from all over the world to seek a better life in the Kootenays, but in Trail, Italians answered that call in record numbers, moving into The Gulch on the west side of town. First to arrive were people from Tuscany, followed by folks from Abruzzo, Treviso, Friuli, and Calabria. Today, practically every dialect is represented in this city of Italians, and there are families with names like Fornelli, Rella, DeVito, De Rosa, Pocciola, Matteucci, D'Andrea, DeBiasio, Nutini, Stefani, Gattafoni, Morelli, Cecchini, Santori, and so many others.

Coincidentally, last weekend was the big Silver City Days celebration in Trail, and I had the honour and pleasure of attending many of the events. I watched the spaghetti-eating contest and the grape stomp, but unfortunately I missed the bocce tournament.

After the big spaghetti dinner at Colombo Lodge, John D'Arcangelo and Joe Parrilla gave me a tour of the archives of that Italian cultural organization. I was deeply impressed by the rich history portrayed in the photos and artefacts on the shelves. The photos celebrated many famous Trail citizens of Italian heritage, including Thomas d'Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and one of the private sector architects of NAFTA. Perhaps from a slightly different part of the political spectrum, but contemporary with Mr. d'Aquino and also influential in the economic history of our country, we have Ken Georgetti, former president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

The arts are well represented, perhaps best illustrated by Bruno Freschi, the architect of Expo 86 in Vancouver.

As for hockey players, Trail has always been a centre of excellence for hockey in Canada. The Smoke Eaters won world championships in 1939 and 1961, and the Italian community has supplied numerous NHL players, including Cesare Maniago, Ray Ferraro, and Steve Tambellini.

The wine industry in British Columbia, now worth billions to the Canadian economy, has to thank Italian immigrants for its early successes. Pasquale Capozzi, better known as Cap Capozzi, arrived in Canada in 1906 and worked as a railway labourer before managing the co-op store in Trail. He opened his own store in the mining town of Phoenix, high above Greenwood, in 1917, then moved to Kelowna, where he became a successful merchant. In 1932, Cap Capozzi teamed up with the Casorso family, which had been growing grapes for years in the Okanagan, to form Calona Wines, and by the 1960s, it was the biggest winery in British Columbia. When I was growing up in Penticton, one of our neighbours, Tony Biollo, helped found Casabello Wines, another successful early Okanagan winery.

I am happy and proud to stand here today to support Italian heritage month. However, we must remember that Canada has not always been welcoming to other cultures.

I lived in the idyllic town of Naramata for 15 years, located just north of Penticton on Okanagan Lake. When Naramata was first settled, in 1906, the developer published advertising pamphlets that were distributed in eastern Canada and Britain. Besides the beautiful setting of the town and the opportunity to grow peaches, apricots, and cherries, the leaflets also declaimed, “You would not wish to find yourself surrounded by garlic-eating foreign neighbours, with whom you had nothing in common socially. The class of people coming to Naramata is not of that type. They are of the very best Canadian stuff.”

Italians were not welcome in Naramata a century ago. However, 10 years later, Italian stonemasons were working on the Kettle Valley Railway in Naramata, and their handiwork is now a point of local pride.

Last weekend I talked to a lot of people of Italian heritage in Trail. One of them told me that when he joined the RCMP in 1957, he was one of the first members of Italian heritage accepted into the force. That means that there were 80 years of the RCMP before it started accepting Italians.

My daughter Julia works in an immigrant services centre in Penticton teaching English to Syrian refugees and other immigrants. She is named after her grandmother, Julia Mazzocchi. True to her Italian heritage, Julia works half-time in the burgeoning Okanagan wine industry, but she needs that half-time job because federal funding for immigrant services has been cut significantly. We should not cut funding for immigrant services as we, properly, encourage more people to move to our country.

If we choose to celebrate the cultures that make up Canada, and I think of course we should and must, which is why I am supporting this motion, we have to ensure that we provide new arrivals with the help they need, such as language classes, employment counselling, and driver training, so they can quickly become productive and proud citizens of our country.

On that note, I would like to finish with a quote from an article in Weekend Magazine, back in 1957, about the Italian heritage of Trail.

The man of Trail would be a prince in any country in Europe. He lives on the gold, silver, and zinc resources of the Kootenays, and they will never be exhausted. As a statistical unit, he is unique. As a man working in his garden, or driving in his new car on a Sunday afternoon, he is strictly a product of the new world—with overtones of spaghetti and home-made wine. Even when automation comes, there will still be, it is hoped, a Setty D'Arcangelo. There will still, pray God, be a Signora Pasquale Angerelli making meatballs and spaghetti at her great black stove, and a Frank D'Arcangelo at his casks.

Grazie.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for Alfred-Pellan.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Does the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel have the unanimous consent of the House to share his time with the member for Alfred-Pellan?

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

[The Assistant Deputy Speaker spoke in Italian]

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker,

[Member spoke in Italian]

[Translation]

It is with tremendous pride, great excitement, and hard-to-contain enthusiasm that I express to this venerable House my full support for my colleague from King—Vaughan's Motion No. 64.

Italians have been in Canada since it was discovered. Giovanni Caboto and Giovanni da Verrazzano were among this country's first explorers. Later, Jesuit Francesco Giuseppe Bressani and the Carignan-Salières regiment came to New France. The Italian presence grew steadily as the decades and centuries passed, and Italians have always left their mark on Canada.

Italians who came to Canada brought with them the priceless treasure of 5,000 years of civilization. Although they were poor because of turmoil in their mother country, Italians carried a priceless treasure in their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls, a treasure they shared with this whole country and with every community in which they flourished.

There is no question that Canada would not be what it is today without the extraordinary contributions of the Italians who settled here. Of all the generations that have come to the country, I especially appreciate the post-war generation, which began to arrive in 1949. My father, Giovanni Di Iorio, from Casacalenda, in the province of Campobasso, was among those people, and so was my mother, Giuseppina Ranellucci, who is from Larino and arrived in 1955.

The post-war generation breathed new life into the institutions created by people who arrived in the early 20th century and during the inter-war years, and created new institutions. The post-war generation completely changed the face of Montreal, which is celebrating its 375th anniversary this week.

Italians of that generation made great personal sacrifices through their hard work and willingness to do without, thereby ensuring a brighter future for their families.

In Quebec, once-strong religious ties no longer seemed to matter when it was time to send their kids to school, because the stigma of internment created barriers. During the Second World War, the government of this country arrested and detained men, some who were Canadian citizens and others who were in the process of becoming citizens, without ever charging them or telling them why, and without allowing them to seek justice before the courts. Questioning government decisions was impossible at the time, which gave an aura of legitimacy to the actions and created a stigma against Italians in Canada. This can still be felt today, sometimes openly because of unwarranted, inappropriate generalizations, but too often in a more insidious and subtle manner.

Despite this welcome marked by prejudice, these newcomers got to work immediately to earn a living, thereby making a huge contribution to building the Quebec we know today. They revitalized the Italian churches founded in the early 20th century, including the Madonna del Carmine and the Madonna della Difesa, not to mention all the others founded later on.

Italians created businesses, schools, and hospitals as well as community, cultural, and charitable organizations, and even built towns and cities.

The riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, which I am so proud to represent, is made up of the two former towns of the same names. In just 15 years, from 1955 to 1970, their population multiplied fifty-fold thanks to the hard work of these Italians after the war.

Casa d'Italia is the oldest cultural centre in Canada. Centro Leonardo da Vinci, which I founded with Giuseppe Borsellino and Silvio De Rose, is home to Quebec's Italian community.

The Fondation communautaire canadienne-italienne du Québec supports over 100 charitable organizations in our community, in addition to the countless associations representing hometowns and home villages, as well as all the federations. The varied entities created by Italians are too many to name in such little time.

I also want to acknowledge my colleagues from LaSalle—Émard—Verdun and Alfred-Pellan, whose work contributes to the development of our community.

We must never fail to remember and share the history of the rich and exceptional contribution of Italians to building Canada, a contribution that deserves to be recognized and cherished.

[Member spoke in Italian]

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, [Member spoke in Italian].

[English]

First, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for King—Vaughan, for putting forward this motion. The recognition of the Italian community and heritage in Canada is dear to my heart as a Canadian Italian. I am grateful for her dedicated work on this motion.

Motion No. 64 would allow the 1.5 million Italian Canadians to celebrate, every June, the deep and rich heritage of their roots. Not that Italians really need a reason to throw a party, this would be a good one to celebrate now.

The Italian community in Canada will now be celebrated all over the country, and their history will be put forward so that all Canadians of every origin can recognize the great contributions made by the community.

When Italians began to immigrate to Canada, especially in the early 20th century, they often faced a harsh reality and difficult conditions. However, through their determination, their deep sense of family and community, and their hard work, they not only overcame challenges, but also managed to become prosperous entrepreneurs and community leaders who contributed to building the Canada of today. I am so grateful to them.

The motion discussed today recognizes not only the contributions Italian Canadians have made to Canadian society but also the richness of the Italian language and culture and the importance of educating future generations about Italian heritage. This is what I have tried to do with my son Gabriel, who enjoys gardening, eating pasta with meatballs and lots of homemade tomato sauce, and even a bit of homemade wine. He never says no. I feel it is really important for him to remain connected to his roots and to know the history of his grandparents and how they came to Canada and worked hard so that the generations to follow could have a better quality of life.

I will always be thankful to my parents and all the Italian immigrants of their generation for immigrating to this wonderful country I call my own now. They paved the way for me, fellow Canadian Italians of my generation, and all future generations in becoming responsible citizens, conscious of the greatness of Canada and respectful of the opportunities we have due to their sacrifices. It is those sacrifices that allowed me to be a member of Parliament today representing the great riding and city of Alfred-Pellan in Laval.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge my Italian constituents in Alfred-Pellan, Laval, and Montreal. They are part of a rich, vibrant, active, and large community in our region.

I am proud to be able to stand here in the House of Commons to represent their interests, and so proud to be able to vote in favour of this motion in their name.

[Member spoke in Italian]

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask to split my time with the member for Humber River—Black Creek.

Buongiorno a tutti. I am so proud and honoured to rise today to speak on—

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am sorry, I will have to interrupt the member for a moment.

Do we have unanimous consent to divide the 10-minute period into two five-minute periods so that the member can split her time with the hon. member for Humber River—Black Creek?

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

We have that consent. My apologies. Please continue.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank all my colleagues in the House. I am so proud and honoured to rise today to speak to Motion No. 64 that recognizes the month of June as Italian heritage month. I must say, Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see you in the chair this morning for this debate.

Growing up in an Italian household, the Marchigiano and Abruzzese household, was absolutely amazing. My parents and my grandparents embodied that robust Italian culture and values. They passed these values and lessons down to me and my siblings. Growing up in an Italian household taught me the true sense of the words “hospitality” and “love”.

The doors to my parents' home were always open to whomever wanted to visit, and strangers and family were treated equally. There was always a meal waiting and ready, and there was always acceptance and love to be shared. In fact, my nonna set up a permanent table on her back porch which she decorated with a beautiful tablecloth. She had the sugo on the stove always ready, and was ready to boil that pot of water for a stranger or family member who came by to share a meal. It was her pride and joy. She took great love and joy in those times.

Family is an integral part of Italian culture. The love for children, grandchildren, and all family members is absolutely incredible. My parents dedicated their lives to ensuring that I had the best possible upbringing. They sacrificed and worked tirelessly to provide me and my siblings with what we needed to flourish. Whether it was my father balancing shift work to make sure I and my teammates made it to the games on time, or setting aside time to coach, or helping to put me through school, the list goes on and on.

However, above and beyond all of that, the most important thing to me was the love that my parents showed me, my siblings, my children, and all their grandchildren, the love that is healing, encouraging, energizing, rejuvenating, the love that is the key to success. The love my parents showed me made me feel that I could attain any dream that I wanted to. I had their support, their confidence, and I knew that I could do it. This is a true gift to be treasured.

It was from my Italian family that I learned kind and caring and generous faith. It was from them that my Liberal progressive Catholicism grew: an acceptance of warm religion, of forgiveness, and second chances. It was beautiful then, and those values continue to guide my life today.

I cannot talk about this topic without talking about work ethic. Italians have had a very large hand in building Hamilton. Whether it was working hard in the steel mills, in construction, hospitality, or now in high-tech businesses, manufacturing, and professions, Hamilton's Italian community is a model of integration, contribution, and leadership. One need only look at McMaster University and Mohawk College where Italian Canadians have made their mark as professors, researchers, and senior administrators.

In my own life, my parents worked very hard. My father was a proud steel worker, my mother the secretary in an elementary school as well as an assistant to a former cabinet minister. They demonstrated that we have to take pride in our work and put our best foot forward.

I recall the story of my father who was driving my nonno to work, and he was coughing. My father turned the car around, and my nonno said, “Filippo, what are you doing?” My father said, “Dad if I take you to work, you're going to die.” He told my father to turn the car around, because if he was going to die, he was going to die on the job. I know this raises eyebrows today, but it is a demonstration of that amazing work ethic on which we stand and we take great pride.

Hamilton has had a mayor of Italian origin, many councillors, and MPs. We have Festitalia, which has created Opera Hamilton. We have Sons of Italy who are doing amazing work. We have this fabric of the Italian experience woven into our city. We look forward to many great ongoing events that the Italians celebrate in Hamilton, which makes it richer.

Finally, I wish to express the gratitude of the people of Italian descent to this country of Canada. We have heard our Prime Minister say repeatedly that we are stronger because of our diversity. There have been injustices towards our community, but that has not taken away from the gratitude and appreciation of our country. My grandmother said it best when she said that the bread on our table has been put here by Canadians.

In turn, Canada has benefited tremendously from our Italian culture. I am proud and happy to support this motion, which establishes June as Italian heritage month.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, listening to my colleagues, it is truly a joy and an honour to stand today and speak behalf of the 1.4 million Canadians who claim Italian ancestry. This includes more than 15,000 in my own riding, and, of course, my own family.

Before I do this, I want to take a moment to thank the member for King—Vaughan for carrying forward this motion on behalf of all of us in the House, and specifically on behalf of our Italian-Canadian parliamentary caucus, which we are very proud of.

We have heard about how the first Italian was Giovanni Caboto in 1497. We have heard, as well, about the contingents of Italians who came here after World War II, and in the 18th century. It was in this period, during our country's infancy, that saw the emergence of the first Italian-Canadian communities, and eventually the first sense of an Italian-Canadian identity within Canada's cultural mosiac. Put another way, Italians have been coming to Canada for as long as there has been a Canada to come to, helping to build and shape our country into the society that we all enjoy today.

Motion 64 would establish June as Italian heritage month, and by doing this, it recognizes that the contributions of many Italian Canadians to our society and to our culture are significant. This is evidenced by Marino Toppan and his work on the Italian Fallen Workers monument that was recently erected in Toronto, with the names of thousands of Italian Canadians who have lost their lives on construction sites, in mining accidents, and so on. Clearly, Italian Canadians were not passive witness to the country's development.

Motion 64 acknowledges and validates the hard work and the sacrifices made by all of those who left the familiarity and security of their homeland to come and build a new home here. Example of just a few very successful Italian Canadians are Frank Iacobucci, the first Italian Canadian named to the Supreme Court; Pietro Rizzuto, our first Canadian-Italian senator; Charles Caccia, our first Italian minister in the federal government; and Paul Valenti, the first alderman on North York Council, who was my mentor.

These are examples of the success of some of the great Italian Canadians we have here, and a few of those whom I know personally in the GTA. Clearly, throughout our country, there is not an area that does not have a shining star in a community who is not of Italian origin.

Last week, I had the great pleasure to attend an important fundraiser for earthquake victims in Italy, from the earthquake last year. Sergio Marchionne is another Italian Canadian who was there. He was very pleased to be there to raise money. There are also people like Joseph Montinaro of Dolcini's in my riding, or Danny Montesano of Lido Construction, who has transformed his business in an endless struggle to make Canada better.

Then there is Sam Primucci, founder of Pizza Nova; Angelo Locilento of Vin Bon Wineries; or Toni Varone, owner of Montecassino; Johnny Lombardi, CHIM Radio station, which is run now by Lenny and the rest of the family, and Marco Muzzo, Elvio Del Zotto, and Rudy Bratty, who are all examples of Italian Canadians who have helped to build this great country, both spiritually, morally, and physically, with buildings throughout our country that were put there as a result of the work they have done.

My own husband, Sam Sgro, who came to this country with empty pockets and big dreams, successfully grew a business, provided for a family, and worked each day to prove that nothing was impossible with hard work.

Italian-Canadian history and culture are part of the story of Canada. Motion 64 formalizes that. It has the endorsement of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, and its president, Dominic Campione, and is an example of the different organizations throughout Canada that have worked within the Italian community and have a tremendous amount of respect for that.

I support Motion 64. I am thrilled that our caucus is united behind it. I look forward to the vote coming up, I hope, on Wednesday. It will truly start a magnificent month of joy and love throughout the month of June.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation

[Member spoke in Italian.]

[Translation]

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in this historic chamber today to support the bill introduced by the member for King—Vaughan, which also has the support of all members of the Italian-Canadian caucus.

As the son of Italians and as an MP, I am proud that this motion has been introduced in the chamber in order to recognize the important contribution of Italian Canadians to this country throughout the years since their arrival. My colleague from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel eloquently told their story with pride and passion. I would like to say that it was a pleasure to work with my colleagues from Quebec, the members for Alfred-Pellan and Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

Over the years, the Italian community, composed of Italians from several waves of immigration, has changed the face of the country. With this motion we are taking a first step to recognize this historic fact. Other steps will have to be taken. Above all, we must address the internment of Italian Canadians in Canada. The House will have to take that next step in the future.

The Italian experience in Canada cannot be reduced to clichés, but should be reduced to the very real contributions that Italian Canadians have made in a wide variety of places. I will speak to the experience of my family.

My father came from the province of The Marches in 1951 as a skilled labourer, a carpenter. He worked in a factory context for much of his life, but then left the factory and branched out on his own to found his own construction company in Port Colborne, Ontario.

My fondest memories as a child are of tagging along with my father and hanging around on construction sites, learning how to use a hammer and saw, skills that I still have today. My mother, after my father's early death, became well known in the Niagara Peninsula as a caterer at a number of the different Italian-Canadian clubs and halls that were so important, and still are so important, to the Italian-Canadian culture.

There are a number of historic Italian Canadians, but I would like to underline one who has been a mentor to me, the hon. Justice Frank Iacobucci. In a number of different contexts, Frank was a groundbreaking Italian Canadian, first as an academic at the University of Toronto in law. There are many Italian-Canadian lawyers, but Justice Iacobucci was the first great Italian-Canadian legal academic. He went on to become a university administrator at the University of Toronto, then a deputy minister of justice for the government at the federal level under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and then the first Italian Canadian to be the chief justice of the Federal Court of Canada as well as the first Italian Canadian named to the Supreme Court. This pathway was groundbreaking for Italian Canadians, and Justice Iacobucci served as a model to many of us moving through Canadian society.

I am honoured to represent the riding of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun in Montreal, which has a large population of Italian Canadians, many of whom are from my region of Italy, The Marches, but also from Sicily, Calabria, and other parts of Italy as well. I can assure everyone that it is a vibrant community, with a number of different organizations and events, and people are very proud of their Italian heritage and traditions, as I see every time someone offers me a glass of homemade wine.

I would also point out that in Port Colborne, the city of my birth, there is a large Italian-Canadian population, as well as in the Niagara Peninsula, as the members for Niagara Falls, Niagara Centre, and St. Catharines will attest. These are vibrant populations that continue to thrive and promote the Italian heritage in Canada.

We should speak about the values that Italian Canadians brought. They brought faith, a progressive faith. They brought the value of family and continue to reinforce that in their daily lives.

Of course there is food. I like to joke by saying that I never knew that most Canadian kids did not eat pasta every day until I went to school and saw what other kids were eating. I am proud of that, as I am proud of the many recipes that my mother brought, and I am proud of the language that I have passed on to my children, but I would also like to move beyond those and say there were values of intellect and ingenuity that came with Italian-Canadian immigrants. It is a vibrant, intelligent culture that applied its knowledge in a variety of different sectors in Canada, as well as its business acumen and know-how in order to help grow the Canadian economy.

Finally, I want to point out that it is the future that this motion points us toward. We need to be thinking about continued collaboration with Italy. Italy has an excellent record in terms of its universities and its innovative sectors. I had the good fortune, as a legal academic, to be a fairly common lecturer and professor in a number of Italian universities over the course of my academic career, with particular ties to the universities in Trento, Perugia, Torino, and Rome. Here I was witness first-hand to the ongoing collaboration between Canadian and Italian academics, scientists, and lawyers, etc. It is these innovative collaborations that will help us develop a variety of different sectors that we deem important in our economy as we move forward in this century.

My parents worked exceedingly hard. They made a number of sacrifices for their children. We in this House know how hard we work as MPs. I know how hard I work as an MP, but let me say frankly that I do not work half as hard as my parents did. For those of us in this House who had or are still fortunate enough to have Italian-Canadian parents, that example is critically important to the way we orient our lives and the service we give to our family, to our faith, to our community, and to our country. For that reason, I am so proud to support this motion brought forward today.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for King—Vaughan for this initiative. She has worked hard to ensure this motion was moved so that we can have a meaningful and vigorous debate about designating an Italian heritage month.

I am proud to rise as an Italian Canadian from Montreal. Today, not only are we recognizing the contributions of the Italian community to the culture of this great country of Canada, but we are also acknowledging all the work of the millions of Italian immigrants who helped build Canada.

As I just said in the other official language, we are celebrating all that the Italian community has brought culturally to Canada. That is something that we see every day in the restaurants, in the festivals, and in all kinds links through fashion and sports cars from Italy, but we are also commemorating, honouring, and celebrating the hard work of millions of Italian Canadians who built this country in different ways, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways.

In my own case, I would like to take a moment to pay homage to my grandfather, Francesco Scarpaleggia, who came from Italy with very little education. He came in through Ellis Island, as many people did at the time, and wound his way up to Montreal, where he was a downtown Montreal barber for many years. I even have a photo of myself as a young child sitting in his barber chair. He died in 1968, so I was very young at the time. I am very proud of what he brought to Montreal in a small but very dignified way. He had a son, my father, who went on to be educated and then to take on more responsible positions within the Montreal community. I would like to pay homage to them and also to the many Italians of my riding of Lac-Saint-Louis.

We have a very vibrant Italian community. We have the West Island Italian Association, headed by Mr. Egidio Vincelli. We have the St. Anthony's Seniors Club, headed by Maria Gervasi. We have, of course, the tireless Jack Ciampini, who makes sure that everyone is well taken care of in the Italian community. He looks after them and makes sure that they have the ability to participate in many activities at the community level.

I am thankful for this brief time to address the House on this important motion.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

May 15th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Deb Schulte Liberal King—Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a privilege to rise today to again acknowledge the importance of the Italian Canadian community in Canada and to thank all those who have participated in the debate on my motion to designate June as national Italian heritage month.

I would like to especially thank all my colleagues on the Liberal Italian caucus, many of whom had a chance to tell their very important stories during this debate. I would also like to acknowledge you, the Assistant Deputy Speaker, representing Nipissing—Timiskaming, for also being part of today's proceedings. It is a very special day.

It was nice to hear all the speeches in support of the motion. This broad support speaks to the importance of the Italian Canadian community all across Canada. We have heard speeches that have mentioned the early explorers from Italy who helped to discover Canada, and then heard about those who came to do battle here, first with the French and then the British, and stayed. We have heard about the craftsmen, the artists, the musicians, and the teachers who came in the 19th century, then the builders who helped to build our railways and our cities, and the farmers in the Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley who helped create the orchards, the vineyards and the vegetable farms.

We have also heard that it was not easy for many Italians who came to start a new life here, especially after 1935 when Italian Canadians were designated enemy aliens because Italy allied with Germany during the Second World War. Men lost their jobs. Shops were vandalized. Civil liberties were suspended and hundreds were interned at Camp Petawawa in northern Ontario. Many suffered. However, after the Second World War with the Canadian economy booming, Canada began again to be receptive to Italians.

Italians brought with them a rich cultural heritage, a dedication to family, and a strong work ethic that helped many to succeed. In cities where they settled, they tended to create ethnic neighbourhoods, little Italys, where the distinctive shops, restaurants, churches, and clubs were a magnet for other Canadians wanting to get a taste of Italy.

Italian Canadians have contributed greatly over the past century to growing this country. They have become community leaders, successful business entrepreneurs, and well-known artists. We have heard many of them mentioned today in the debate. I can think of many successful well-known Italian Canadians, including some from my own community. The mayor of Vaughan, Maurizio Bevilacqua, came to Canada as a young boy with his family from Sulmona, Italy, with very little. He became an MP at the age of 28, and served until becoming mayor of Vaughan in 2010.

For Italians, their families, religion, and close connection to their cultural history are at the core of their identity and a source of strength and pride. I live in a riding with the second highest percentage of Italians, and I am very proud of their hard work and their contributions. They have helped Vaughan grow into the very desirable community it is today.

Italian Canadians have the highest rate of home ownership, reflecting the importance of family and home as its centre. They are also exceptionally generous when it comes to those in need, building seniors facilities, donating to hospitals, and supporting many causes, helping not just Italian Canadians, but all Canadians.

We have many active Italian senior groups that work hard to keep seniors engaged and supported, and many of our community organizations have those same seniors on their boards and as volunteers.

The Italian Canadian press and media have also been strong promoters of social cohesion, and have brought their Italian constituency and the wider society together through the decades. Today we have the Corriere Canadese and several other Italian community newspapers. We have OMNI TV and the national cable system Telelatino Network that promote Italian culture and news. Italian and Chinese are the most widespread non-official languages in Canadian television and radio broadcasting.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to bring forward the motion and I am honoured to have the support of the Liberal Italian caucus, many of whom are here today. I want to thank all those who have spoken during the debate and for all the support received from both sides of the House. I also want to acknowledge the strong support from the National Congress of Italian-Canadians, the National Federation of Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association, the Order Sons of Italy of Canada, and the Canadian Ethnocultural Council.

I look forward to June when we will celebrate across this great country the contributions and accomplishments of Italian Canadians. On June 2, Italian Canadians will celebrate Festa della Repubblica, Republic Day, which is the Italian national day. On June 6, the Canada-Italy Interparliamentary Group will have its second Italian Day on the Hill, which will be a wonderful celebration of Italian culture and heritage right here on Parliament Hill.

Again, I thank all those who have supported me in bringing forward the motion. Grazie.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Yea.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Nay.

Italian Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 17, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.