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.