Apologies – Targeting an issue in the Italian Community

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives remarks at a reception held in honour of Italian Heritage Month in Vaughan, Ont., on Friday, June 14, 2019. Photo Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

The following issue showcases how particular topics can have a lot more weight within certain ethnic communities than in the mainstream media.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to apologize to the Italian community for the internment of hundreds of Italian Canadians during the Second World War received widespread coverage within the Italian ethnic media, a lot of which was critical.

The Montreal-based Il Cittadino Canadese newspaper reported that during his four-year mandate, the prime minister found the time to apologize to various ethnic communities, but not to Italian Canadians, and in making his announcement, he cited neither time nor place.

Il Cittadino Canadese said: “It all smacks of amateurism, like the primaries for the Liberal candidate in Saint Leonard-Saint Michel. The same goes for the failure to appoint an Italian Canadian to a vacant Quebec Senate seat. Whatever the case, anti-Italian prejudice must end. The PM’s silence in the past four years as to the way Italian Canadians have been and are treated speaks loudly.”

A separate article in Il Cittadino Canadese noted that: “The timing of this announcement appears suspect, as it comes a few months before the next federal election, giving some the idea it might be a way to get the Italian-Canadian vote. If that is the case, it might backfire as the Liberals can no longer take Italian-Canadian voters for granted.”

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Italian newspaper Lo Specchio said that while some say better late than never, others wonder why Trudeau did not do it right after he came to power in 2015 when instead he snubbed the Italian-Canadian community by not appointing a single minister of Italian descent. More importantly, the PM should make the apology without so much flashy PR, according to Lo Specchio.

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