Canadians of Italian origin find justice in apology for internment during WW2

Somewhat one-sided account in favour of the apology as the more authoritative and critical analysis by Roberto Perrin, Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad, not cited (other recent critical view by Michael Petrou, The harm done by Justin Trudeau’s apology to Italian -Canadians might require an apology of its own):

After decades of digging through archival material and talking with the relatives of people of Italian origin detained in Canada during the Second World War, Montreal historian Joyce Pillarella says Canada’s long-awaited apology gives her family and others the moral justice they have been waiting for.

Pillarella started learning more than 20 years ago about the struggles of the more than 600 people who were interned when she found a postcard sent from her grandfather who was confined at a camp near Fredericton, N.B.

She then started combing through Canada’s national archive before she started talking to the families of those affected.

“When I was starting to do cold calls to try to find families, a lot of people didn’t want to talk to me,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“What I realize now is that they didn’t want to talk because they felt insignificant, their story was insignificant. They were afraid of being judged wrongly. There was the shame of the story.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to deliver a formal apology in the House of Commons Thursday for the internment of Canadians of Italian background during the Second World War for several years at three camps in Petawawa, Ont., Minto, N.B., and Kananaskis, Alta. The apology is not expected to come with individual compensation.

Justice Minister David Lametti, the first Canadian justice minister of Italian heritage, said the internment happened following an order-in-council that was promulgated by the then-justice minister Ernest Lapointe, and it resulted in taking hundreds of people of Italian origin from their families and declaring about 31,000 as “enemy aliens.”

“Not a single person was ever convicted, and in addition, people weren’t afforded due process,” he said in an interview.

“There wasn’t anything other than the fact that their name may have appeared on a list somewhere.”

Pillarella said the Canadian government asked the RCMP to prepare lists of Canadians of Italian heritage after Italy invaded Ethiopia in the mid-1930s.

She said Italian-Canadians had to do a lot of their business through the Italian consulates at the time.

“People had to be sympathetic with the consulate or at least appear to be, because otherwise they’re not going to get anything done,” she said.

Lametti said people were put on RCMP lists for having made donations to the Italian Red Cross or for being members of certain labour groups.

“It is true that the Fascist Party did have organizations in Canada but, in the 1930s, they were popular,” he said. “It didn’t mean that people were disloyal to Canada. In fact, Italian-Canadians generally were very much disappointed when Italy joined Germany in that war effort.”

Joan Vistarchi, whose father Salvatore Vistarchi was interned between June 1940 and March 1943, said the RCMP arrested her father in his Montreal apartment without giving him any reason.

“He was put on a train, and he didn’t know where he was going. Nobody would say where they were going, but he ended up in the Fredericton internment camp in New Brunswick,” she said.

Vistarchi noticed as a child her father would remain very silent on June 10 every year. She asked her mother what was wrong with her dad but her mother would wave it off by saying, “I just don’t think he’s feeling well today.”

When Vistarchi became a teenager, she learned that her father’s sadness on June 10 was because he was detained on that day.

“It was kept pretty silent for a long, long time, and then, only little pieces came out,” she said. “To his dying day, (my father) wondered why was he imprisoned or put in an internment camp.”

Pillarella contacted some 150 families across Canada to collect the stories of the people who were interned during the war.

She said the suffering of the women and the children left behind could be even greater than that of the men who were detained in internment camps.

“For the women in the 1940s, there were big families usually, I mean it was common (to have) six, seven, eight children. The breadwinner was gone,” she said. “Taking care of a household in the 1940s was a big, big job. … It’s not like today where we have appliances.”

She said families of Italian origin were stigmatized as “state enemies” and had to battle to survive as kids had to get pulled out of school, and women ended up finding domestic work on top of taking care of their big families.

“People didn’t want to hire Italians. They didn’t want to rent to Italians,” she said. “There were people that were afraid to help (Italian-Canadians) because they thought ‘Oh my god, the RCMP is watching. My husband’s gonna get interned also.”

Cinna Faveri said her father, Rev. Libero Sauro, was interned in September 1940 and was released in December of the same year. Four of his seven sons were serving in the Canadian military at the time.

Two of her brothers were airmen serving in England, and another one was a signalman fighting in Italy and Holland, she said.

She said her family, unlike most in the Italian community in Canada, was comfortable talking about what happened.

“Whenever I mentioned it to anybody, my close friends, my new friends, anybody, they’re shocked,” she said.

“They don’t know it. Nobody knows about it.”

Lametti said it’s critical to share the stories of these families through commemoration and education.

“We’re sorry,” he said, adding his message to families was “as your parents made sure that this stood as something that would make you better Canadians, we’re hoping to tell your story, so that all Canadians can be better.”

Faveri said the apology is necessary even if it’s too late.

“It’s far too late in coming. But, because for historical reasons, it has to come, even if it’s late.”

Vistarchi said the apology is important because the names of people who were interned are going to be cleared, and the descendants will be given some kind of closure.

“However, I really feel in my heart of hearts, as much as I really am grateful for this apology, that it would have been nice if one, at least one, of these internees had been alive to hear this. They’re all dead,” she said.

“Those are the ears that should have heard this apology.”

Source: Canadians of Italian origin find justice in apology for internment during WW2

Former Minister Marchi: Apologizing to Italian Canadians — maybe there’s a better way to make amends

Couldn’t resist posting this cartoon regarding the Harper government’s apologies:

Harper appology cartoon

That being said, there is considerable merit to Marchi’s arguments against apologies, even if the train left the station many governments before. But agree with his proposals to have broader discussions with all groups would be more integrative and inclusive than targeted apologies (and the one to Italian-Canadians is controversial as Michael Petrou’s article indicates The harm done by Justin Trudeau’s apology to Italian-Canadians might require an apology of its own:

Later this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to issue a formal apology to the Italian-Canadian community over how some of our fellow citizens were interned during the Second World War. This would his fifth apology for past injustices since being elected prime minister in 2015.

To be fully transparent, while I was an Opposition MP, I, too, argued for apologies towards Japanese and Italian Canadians, based on how they were treated during that war. But I feel differently today.

I have since moved towards former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s position. He argued that the obligation of a government is not to right the past. In the House of Commons, he stated, “It is our purpose to be just in our times.” He refused to play Monday morning quarterback. He instead encouraged us to learn from history, rather than apologize for it.

Source: Marchi: Apologizing to Italian Canadians — maybe there’s a better way to make amends

The harm done by Justin Trudeau’s apology to Italian-Canadians might require an apology of its own

Pandering. Good and needed reminder of the historical record (recall this from my time managing the historical recognition program):

Canada interned hundreds of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War “for the simple reason that they were of Italian heritage,” Liberal MP Angelo Iacono told the House of Commons on April 14, paving the way for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce that Canada would formally apologize for doing so in May.

Mr. Iacono’s claim is remarkable. It suggests that Canada perpetrated a massive violation of human rights among members of that ethnic community. But if they really were interned simply because of their heritage, surely tens of thousands must have been thrown into camps – far more than the 12,000 Japanese-Canadians pulled from their homes on the West Coast and interned during the war (in addition to the thousands more forced to work on farms). There were, after all, more than 100,000 Italian-Canadians in 1940.

And yet, if we don’t count the 100 or so Italian sailors in Canada who were caught off guard by Italy’s declaration of war in 1940, the number of internees totals about 500, less than 0.5 per cent of the Italian-Canadian population. There must have been something special about them. What, one wonders, could it have been?

Fortunately, historians have studied this topic in some detail, so we have answers. Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad, edited by Franca Iacovetta, Roberto Perin and Angelo Principe is a comprehensive takedown of the claim that Canada waged a “war against ethnicity” when interning Italian-Canadians.

Instead, the book finds that Benito Mussolini’s diplomats in Canada aggressively promoted fascism among Italian-Canadians and met with some success – although only a small minority of Italian-Canadians were involved in fascist organizations. Such people caught the attention of the RCMP, which compiled what historian Luigi Bruti Liberati describes in the book as “a detailed picture of fascist activity in Canada, from the largest urban centres to the most distant mining camps.”

Mr. Liberati notes there are valid reasons to question the accuracy of the RCMP’s conclusions. But they were based on evidence, however imperfect, rather than on blanket assumptions about the entire community.

Mr. Liberati compiled his own biographical database of the internees. He found police had detailed dossiers indicating involvement in fascist organizations for at least 100 of them. Even 500, however, represented a small fraction of the 3,500 Italian-Canadians known to have been members of local fascist groups.

“[M]any who later professed their loyalty to Canada had in fact been fervent Fascists and had maintained their positions even during their internment,” Mr. Liberati writes.

Were some wrongly accused? Certainly, and the harm from that injustice persisted. But Ottawa’s actions were not comparable to those of a police state, he concludes. “This judgment seems to ignore the fact that fascism was well founded in Canada and that a certain number of Italian Canadians had supported it actively, not hesitating on occasion to resort to acts of violence against co-nationals and anti-fascists.”

That last detail underscores the greatest damage done by Mr. Trudeau’s planned apology. To claim that Italian-Canadians were interned because of their ethnicity suggests that they were representative of the entire Italian-Canadian community. They were not. Suggesting otherwise erases the history of Italian-Canadians who fought fascism, at home and abroad, instead of cheering its murderous advance.

Take, for example, Charles Bartolotta. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, when Mussolini sent soldiers to fight and die alongside the Nazis’ Condor Legion, Bartolotta left his home in Hamilton, Ont., to fight the fascists in that prelude to the Second World War. A member of the International Brigades, he was killed in action in September, 1938.

Or consider Frank Misericordia, a father of four who was working at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel during the Second World War when he was recruited by the Special Operations Executive to infiltrate German-occupied Italy and liaise with anti-fascist partisans there. Five attempts to secretly land him on the Italian coast were unsuccessful, but they took their toll, as one of his superiors noted in a 1944 memo: “In this case a pension from S.O.E. would hardly be any recompense, and I recommend that his services and the aggravation of his illness through the many courageous attempts he made to land in enemy territory be recognized by a one-time bonus when he leaves the country.”

Consider, finally, all those Italian-Canadians who joined the Canadian Armed Forces during the war. They recognized fascism for what it was and stood against it. It’s their story, and Bartolotta’s and Misericordia’s, that should be celebrated. Mr. Trudeau has instead chosen to subsume their heroism in a false, overly broad narrative of ethnic victimhood.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-harm-done-by-justin-trudeaus-apology-to-italian-canadians-might/

Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

Remember well the challenges Canadian Heritage’s historical recognition program uhad in working with the Italian Canadian representatives during my time there, as well as some of the academics who challenged the community narrative (Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad):

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue a formal apology next month for the treatment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War.

The government said in a news release that 600 Italian-Canadian men were interned in camps in Canada after Italy allied with Germany and joined the war in 1940.

Some 31,000 other Italian-Canadians were declared enemy aliens.

Trudeau told the House of Commons Wednesday that his government “will right these wrongs” by issuing a formal apology in May.

In 1988, Canada formally apologized and offered $300 million in compensation to Japanese-Canadians, 22,000 of whom were interned in camps during the Second World War.

Trudeau did not say whether there will be compensation for Italian-Canadians.

He announced plans for the apology in response to a question Wednesday from Liberal MP Angelo Iacono.

“During the Second World War, hundreds of Italian-Canadians were interned for the simple reason that they were of Italian heritage,” Iacono told the Commons.

“Parents were taken away from their homes, leaving children without their fathers in many cases and families without a paycheque to put food on their tables. Lives and careers, businesses and reputations were interrupted and ruined, and yet no one was held responsible.

“Italian Canadians have lived with these memories for many years and they deserve closure.”

Trudeau replied that Canadians of Italian heritage “deal with ongoing discrimination related to mistakes made by our governments of the past that continue to affect them to this day.”

“I’m proud to stand up and say that our government will right these wrongs with a formal apology in the month of May.”

The government’s news release said that in 1939, the Defence of Canada Regulations gave the justice minister the right to intern, seize property and limit activities of Canadian residents born in countries that were at war with Canada.

The regulations clearly targeted Canadians’ fear of “the foreign element,” and not a single person was ever charged with any crime, the release said.

In 2018, the RCMP issued a statement of regret for their involvement in the internment.

The government’s formal apology will pay tribute to and honour the families of each of the 600 interned as an act of respect and an acknowledgment that an injustice happened, the release said.

Canada is home to over 1.6 million Canadians of Italian origin, one of the largest Italian diasporas in the world, and they have made immeasurable contributions to the social, cultural and economic fabric of the country, the release added.

A joint statement from 10 Italian-Canadian members of Parliament, including Justice Minister David Lametti and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, said many residents suffered irrevocable harm.

“They may have been Italian by heritage, but they were Canadians first. We as Italian Members of Parliament thank those members before us who brought attention to this injustice and helped bring this apology to fruition for these families in our Italian-Canadian communities.”

Source: Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

Trudeau Turns the Page on #Immigration. About time! : Corriere Canadese

The Corriere Canadese and its editor, former Liberal immigration minister Joe Volpe (Martin government) has been advocating for Hussen’s ouster for some time (the criticisms are overblown IMO).

We will never know whether these concerns played a role in his replacement by an Italian Canadian, but as noted before, there has been tension for some time between traditional and newer immigrant groups supporting the Liberals. For example, the Saint Léonard-Saint Michel Liberal nomination contest between Italian Canadian and non-Italian Canadian candidates being a recent example.

The program actually plays little attention to citizenship or country of origin, contrary to what is asserted in the article. Moreover, Express Entry dramatically improved processing times for economic class immigrants. And visible minorities have formed close to 80 percent of all immigrants over the past 20 years.

But a good example of tension between historic and newer groups of new Canadians, and how they perceive their relative influence on Liberal immigration policies:

The first signs are positive. Justin Trudeau has decided to intervene in the immigration department chaos with the replacement of the now exminister Ahmed Hussen by promoting Marco Mendicino to the delicate post. During these last two years, Corriere Canadese has strongly denounced the systemic inconsistencies in the management of migration flows by the Executive – the Minister -responsible for those flaws, the contradictions and the endemic problems that have permeated the immigration sector in our country.

Our survey of the last two weeks has documented with numbers, data and statistics – all provided directly by the Ministry of Immigration – the poor state of health of the entire system, the absurdity of the results produced, the imbalances among geographic origins of the immigrants, the bizarre bureaucratic, linguistic and regulatory obstacles of the Express Entry.

The question was/is very simple: is the current system able to provide a trained and qualified workforce to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market in a timely fashion? The answer was/ is equally simple: absolutely not.

As it is structured, the system itself pays more attention to the citizenship of the newcomers than to their professional preparation, to their work experience or, above all, to the requirements requested by Canadian companies and businesses. It goes without saying that it is necessary to turn the page, intervening with significant structural changes – and not mere cosmetic operations. If that is not enough, then one should consider a complete repeal of the Express Entry program.

This program, envisioned by Harper conservatives, Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander, Conservative Cabinet Ministers, came into force in January 2015.

It has become quite clear that even the Current Prime Minister has not been overwhelmed with enthusiasm by Ahmed Hussen’s work in the two and a half years in offiŽce. His demotion from a key department of government to a previously non-existent Ministry without a portfolio is a clear signal that even Trudeau realized that the management of migration flows in the previous legislature represented a weak point in government action.

Moreover, it was a source of controversy and internal splits creating friction with many communities, starting with Italian Canadians.

The appointment of Mendicino, Eglinton-Lawrence’s MP of Italian origin, represents a clear and precise response to the complaints we have supported – by giving space – for Hussen’s work.

That said, we must point out that, in our opinion, the decision to appoint Mendicino Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is not the goal but a starting point.

He will face a huge amount of work and many problems to solve: the Express Entry, as we have said, but also the thorny issues of undocumented foreign workers – “resolved” by his predecessor with a cynical rise shrug of his shoulders – the inconsistencies of the family reunification system, those of the hasty deportations that violate any principle of common sense and the delicate relationship with the various Provinces on demographic matters.

That sometimes, it is right to point out, they also put their own. Just look at what happened in Ontario, where Prime Minister Doug Ford after the victory of 2018 had the “brilliant idea” – one of many, to tell the truth – to eliminate the Provincial Ministry of Immigration and to entrust its competencies to the Minister for Children and Community and Social Services, a position currently held by Lisa MacLeod.

So, in wishing the new minister good work, we also ask that the government have the strength to turn to ensure that Immigration returns to being one of the strengths of our country’s economic, social and demographic growth.

Source: Trudeau Turns the Page on Immigration. About time!

Marco Mendicino appointed new Canadian immigration minister: Backstory?

A possible backstory for this appointment is that there has been considerable discontent among some Italian Canadians over their relative under-representation in key posts (see the Saint-Léonard Saint-Michel Liberal nomination where a non-Italian, Hassan Guillet, won what was viewed as an Italian Canadian seat before his candidacy being revoked by the LPC and being replaced by Patricia Lattanzio).

More notably, former Liberal immigration minister in the Martin government and current editor of Corriere Canadese, Joe Volpe, has been particularly strident in his critique of Ahmed Hussen:

“Corriere publisher Joe Volpe exhorts Anne McLellan, advisor to Justin Trudeau, to tell the Prime Minister to get rid of those federal ministers who never should have been called to government, first among them Ahmed Hussen. As Immigration Minister, Hussen has been a complete disaster. Nonetheless, approximately 300,000 new entrants, as well as international student visa holders, refugees, and the more than one million undocumented workers (and their families), are at his mercy. Closer to home, he has not lifted a finger to make use of the human resources potential of Italian emigrants ‘young, educated and skilled’ who are leaving Italy each year, going everywhere except Canada. Dismiss him before he causes more damage to the country’s demographic fabric and the Liberal brand, Volpe says.” (1 November, Italian, Corriere Canadese)

—-

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Marco Mendicino as Canada’s next Minister of Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada.

Mendicino has an extensive background in law. For nearly 10 years he worked as a federal prosecutor, during which time he put members of the “Toronto 18” terror group behind bars. He also worked at the Law Society of Upper Canada, and was the President of the Association of Justice Counsel, where he served for two terms. Mendicino has also advocated for better laws on organized crime and access to justice before the House of Commons and the Senate.

At the time of swearing-in on November 20, he was serving as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. He was involved in advancing government green infrastructure and social infrastructure in Toronto and across Canada.

He was re-elected as the Member of Parliament in the Eglinton-Lawrence riding on October 21, 2019 with 53 per cent of voter support. Before being elected in 2015 he developed a lunch program for families with children going into kindergarten or the installation of a new turf field at John Wanless Public School.

In 2017 he served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, where he helped to advance federal priorities such as Criminal Justice Reform, Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and Restorative Justice.

The new Minister of Immigration also sat on a number of boards and has been involved with the John Wanless Childcare Centre, John Wanless Public School, North Toronto Soccer Club, COSTI Immigration Services, the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee and Heart & Stroke Canada.

Mendicino will be replacing Ahmed Hussen who lead Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) since 2017. Hussen will be taking over the role of Minister of Families Children and Social Development.

Source: https://www.cicnews.com/2019/11/marco-mendicino-appointed-new-canadian-immigration-minister-1113215.html#gs.hcxcwg

Liberals dump Quebec candidate after B’nai Brith, Conservatives allege anti-Semitic comments

Embarrassing that the candidate vetting process did not discover these earlier statements.

Suspect an Italian-Canadian may now be the Liberal candidate given the complaints by some Italian-Canadians in the riding that a non-Italian-Canadian won the nomination:

The Liberals have dumped a candidate in Quebec after B’nai Brith Canada accused Hassan Guillet of making a number of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements.

“The insensitive comments made by Hassan Guillet are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada,” the party said in a media statement.

“Following a thorough internal review process that has been ongoing for a few weeks, the Liberal Party of Canada has made the decision to revoke the candidacy of Mr. Guillet for the riding of  Saint—Léonard Saint—Michel in this fall’s election.”

Guillet, a member of the Council of Quebec Imams, gained national attention after delivering a speech in Quebec City honouring victims of the Quebec mosque shooting.

In a statement on its website, B’nai Brith Canada said Guillett praised a Hamas-aligned activist, Raed Salah, and had a history of making anti-Semitic comments on social media. The group said it reached out to the Liberal Party more than a week ago to make it aware of their allegations against him.

In a post on his Facebook account earlier today, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “do the right thing, immediately condemn these anti-Semitic comments, and fire this candidate.

“Anti-Semitism is unfortunately all too real in Canada and threatens the safety and security of Jewish Canadians. As political leaders, we need to speak out and condemn it at every opportunity.”

In a statement issued Thursday — before being dropped as a candidate — Guillet apologized for some of his past comments regarding the Middle East, without repeating the comments or detailing what they were.

“If these statements could be considered offensive to some of my fellow citizens of Jewish faith, I apologize. My intention was not to offend anyone. The lack of sensitivity of these statements does not reflect my personality or my way of being,” he said in French.

Source: Liberals dump Quebec candidate after B’nai Brith, Conservatives allege anti-Semitic comments

Douglas Todd: Idea of federal apology splits Italian Canadians

For some context. One of the files I worked on under the Conservative government was the historical recognition program which provided funding to communities who had been affected by wartime internment or immigration restrictions (Chinese, Ukrainian, Italian, Indian and Jewish Canadians).

Italian Canadian stakeholders were difficult and in the end, then Minister Kenney, engaged Conservative Senator Di Nino to help steer the discussions regarding projects to be funded. (For more details, see Multiculturalism: The Case of Historical Recognition in my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias:Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism):

Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already offered his apologies to many different Canadian minority groups, some Italian Canadian media outlets have been aroused to express anger that their ethnic group has not yet received one from him.

The Italian-language media, which has 25 different outlets in Canada, has been simmering this summer about Trudeau, who has made it clear he will formally apologize only after the Oct. 21 election for the internment of a relatively small portion of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War.

“Almost 80 bitter years later, the federal government appears ready to apologize to Italian Canadians for the humiliation, suffering, arrest and internments of hundreds in 1940. … While some say better late than never, others wonder why he did not do it right after he came to power,” said Lo Specchio newspaper.

“The fact Justin Trudeau has ‘promised’ just before the fall election to apologize in Parliament for the internment of Italian Canadians … raises questions about the prime minister’s sincerity,” said Corriere Canadese newspaper.

“Anti-Italian prejudice must end,” declared one writer in Il Cittadino Canadese.

Trudeau’s promised apology has become a key political issue in ridings with large Italian and other ethnic groups.

And it’s sparked debate among Italian Canadians and others over whether such an apology is warranted, since the detention of 586 suspected Fascist Italian Canadians was different in many ways from the mass internment of 22,000 Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

Andres Malchaski, co-founder of an organization that monitors electoral issues among Canada’s ethnic communities, said many Italian-language newspapers are pushing for Trudeau to say he’s sorry because, like other ethnic groups, they’re “using apology and redress issues to establish their political and cultural identity in Canada.”

Italian Canadians are “particularly aggressive … because they have a history of political participation and leadership and a need to defend that space against other ethnic lobbies,” said Malchaski, whose website, diversityvotes.ca, monitors hundreds of ethnic-language media outlets in Canada.

About 1.6 million Canadians are of Italian ethnicity, including almost 100,000 in Metro Vancouver, 280,000 in Greater Montreal and 490,000 in the Toronto region. Malchaski says many are involved in nomination competitions in ridings which have a changing mix of ethnic voters.

In his four years in office Trudeau became the focus of academic studies for his frequent “apologism,” for the way he regularly, often tearfully, expresses regret for historical wrongs to certain groups, including Sikhs, Indigenous people in B.C., Jews, Inuit and LGBTQ people.

As a result many Italian Canadian media outlets are suspicious about why he’s holding off until after the election to apologize for what occurred in Canada during the Second World War, when Canadian soldiers joined the Allies battling against Nazi Germany, imperial Japan and Fascist Italy.

Part of the reason for Trudeau’s delay could have to do with the uncertainty and controversy that continues to burn among Italians and the wider public over whether to apologize to offspring of the those Italian Canadians detained as suspected collaborators with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s Fascists.

Canada was “not wrong or malicious” to try to protect the country by detaining certain Italians in the country at a time of war, says Patrick Luciana, an Italian Canadian who is a senior fellow at the University of Toronto’s Global Cities Institute.

“To have done otherwise would have shown an extraordinary dereliction of duty to Canada and its people …. What government wouldn’t take precautions against potential enemy subversives?” Luciana recently wrote, noting such precautions were the norm among Allied countries.

“How can we as Italian Canadians ask for an apology when 5,000 Canadian men and boys are buried in cemeteries throughout Italy, who died to rid ‘our’ ancestral home of fascism and naziism?,” Luciana said.

“If we want anything, it’s to avoid having this episode in our history forgotten. But that’s in our hands, not the government’s.”

Another prominent Canadian historian, Jack Granatstein, told Postmedia he thoroughly endorsed the views of Luciana, who argued it’s insulting to ask for an apology today from the descendants of Canada’s leaders in the 1940s, who were predominantly Anglo-Saxon.

Historians often make many distinctions between the targeted Italian Canadian arrests in Eastern Canada and the way that, after the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong and Pearl Harbour, most Japanese Canadians were removed from the West Coast, had their property confiscated and were interned.

Former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father, opposed collective apologies in general. And at least two other Italian Canadian scholars – Franca Iocovetta and Roberto Perin, who edited the 2000 book, Enemies Within – have also expressed skepticism about the Italian redress campaign, according to Christopher Moore, a contributing editor to Canada’s History magazine.

“In the 1930s, there were pro-Fascist organizations in most Italian-Canadian communities, often sponsored by Italian consulates loyal to Mussolini’s Fascist regime. The roughly 600 Italian Canadians interned, out of some 112,000 Italians Canadians, were mostly associated with these pro-Fascist organizations,” Moore said.

On the eve of the Second World War, the Italian Canadian population was split by duelling pro- and anti-Fascist organizations, noted Moore, a prolific writer and former Vancouver resident whose father wrote a biography of Angelo Branca, a leading B.C. lawyer, judge and Italian community leader.

Moore says Branca’s standing among Italian Canadians was “eventually enhanced by his determined resistance in the 1930s to the encroachment of the pro-Fascist movements.”

Regardless of whether Canadians support or oppose an apology, Machaski, whose website translates the Italian-language media into English, said the fight of some Italian Canadians “for an apology is more of a fight for political space for the community than a campaign for redress that might kindle old animosities.”

In advance of this fall’s election, Malchaski is on to something when he maintains the campaign to make sure Trudeau says he’s sorry is mostly about trying to conserve a sense of Italian identity among younger generations and to hold onto some political influence.

Source: Douglas Todd: Idea of federal apology splits Italian Canadians

Le Canada s’excusera auprès des Italo-canadiens

This has been a long festering issue among some in the Italian Canadian community (former PM Mulroney made an unofficial apology at a luncheon in 1990, not in Parliament):

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a indiqué que le gouvernement fédéral s’engage à présenter des excuses officielles aux Italo-canadiens maltraités au pays au cours de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

« Nous devons faire face au chapitre sombre de l’histoire de notre pays, a-t-il déclaré vendredi. Les Italo-canadiens vivent avec ces souvenirs depuis de nombreuses années. »

M. Trudeau en a fait l’annonce vendredi à Vaughan, en Ontario, lors d’un événement visant à célébrer le Mois du patrimoine italien.

Il a affirmé que pendant la guerre, les familles et les entreprises italo-canadiennes avaient souffert et que personne n’a été tenu responsable.

« C’était une période durant laquelle leur patriotisme était mis en doute et leurs vies plongées dans le chaos, a-t-il soutenu. Pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, des centaines d’Italo-canadiens ont été internés. »

M. Trudeau n’a pas révélé quand les excuses officielles seraient faites, mais il a dit qu’elles aideront à panser les plaies de la communauté.

Il a également annoncé que le gouvernement fédéral ouvrirait un centre d’affaires permanent à Milan, en Italie.

M. Trudeau n’a pas fourni plus de détails, mais il dit que le centre veillera à ce que l’avenir soit brillant entre le Canada et l’Italie.

Source: Le Canada s’excusera auprès des Italo-canadiens

Well-known former imam wins Liberal nomination in Montreal riding, becoming its first non-Italian nominee

Of note. Those of Italian ancestry are 22.5 percent of the population, compared 16 percent Arab and 17.3 percent Muslim (2011).

Full riding demographic, economic and social characteristics can be found here: 24069 Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel.

A former imam who gained international attention for speaking at a funeral for victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting has won the Liberal nomination in the Montreal riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, the first time the party has nominated a non-Italian in the Liberal stronghold.

Hassan Guillet said the Liberals were reluctant to have him run in Saint-Léonard, afraid of antagonizing the large Italian community. But he pushed ahead, and insists that he represents the community “better than everybody else,” pointing out that the riding is increasingly diverse and is now home to sizeable North African and Haitian populations as well.

“The Muslim community is as big as the Italian community,” Guillet told the Post in an interview. “The demographic changed enormously.”

Guillet claims to speak six languages, including Italian, and said he was the only potential candidate who could speak to the majority of the riding’s constituents in their mother tongue, whether it be French, English, Italian or Arabic.

His nomination ahead of the fall federal election marks a dramatic shift in the Montreal riding, which has been represented by members of the Italian community since its creation in 1988. The seat was held until 2002 by Alfonso Gagliano, a central figure in the Quebec sponsorship scandal, followed by Massimo Pacetti, who was expelled from the Liberal caucus in 2015 over accusations of sexual misconduct. The riding went to Nicola Di Iorio in the last federal election, who announced his resignation in April 2018 but didn’t officially resign until the end of January 2019.

Last fall, CBC News reported that Di Iorio had expected to hand-pick his successor, and changed his mind about resigning when he was told there would be an open nomination process. Ultimately, he vacated his seat late enough to prevent a byelection from being held before October’s election.

Guillet said he approached the Liberals when Di Iorio first announced he planned to resign, thinking he would run in a byelection. He doesn’t live in the community, but said much of his family does, and the idea of running in a Liberal stronghold was appealing. “The Liberal party is the party that is closest to my ideals, to my principles, to my way of life,” he said.

Guillet said the Liberals were interested in him, but suggested he run elsewhere. “They had a dilemma. On the one hand, they wanted me to be there,” he said. “But they didn’t want to alienate the Italian community, because historically it was always run by an Italian. … They cannot imagine losing Saint-Léonard.”

But Guillet’s mind was made up. He competed for the nomination against city councillor Patricia Lattanzio and Francesco Cavaleri, a notary and friend of Di Iorio’s. On Monday night, he won the nomination, with more than 1,200 members casting ballots. “Everyone was telling me it was unprecedented,” he said.

In a statement, Liberal Party spokesperson Braeden Caley said Guillet is “well-known for his long record of community leadership” and that “Liberals are looking forward to running a positive campaign focused on Justin Trudeau’s progress to strengthen the middle class, grow the economy, protect a clean environment, and make life better for Québec families.”

Guillet said he’d heard that his competition didn’t take him seriously, and that he remained “nameless” for much of the campaign. “I wasn’t even a person,” he said. “I was ‘the imam.’ ” He said he delivered his speech before the vote on Monday night in six languages, and fought throughout the campaign to prove he was “not the enemy.”

He also said the working assumption in the riding was that Arabic-speaking newcomers don’t vote, in part because many of them have immigrated from countries “where democracy was either non-existent or very badly practised.”

“My job was to open their eyes, to educate them and to make them participate,” he said.

Guillet received worldwide attention after speaking at the funeral of three of the victims of the 2017 shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. Part of his sermon, in which he referred to shooter Alexandre Bissonnette as a victim in his own right, was retweeted by author J. K. Rowling, who said his words were “extraordinary and humane.”

Guillet, who moved to Canada from Lebanon in 1974 and is a retired engineer and lawyer, stopped serving as an imam when he decided to run for federal office. Still, his background may prove a hurdle in a province where secularism is a live political issue. However, Guillet insists he had no religious authority as an imam, and that it shouldn’t stop him from “exercising (my) constitutional right.”

“I think the different facets of my experience will enrich debate in the House of Commons,” he said.

Source: Well-known former imam wins Liberal nomination in Montreal riding, becoming its first non-Italian nominee