PM Trudeau delivers remarks during a visit by the Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni
Good afternoon, everyone. Bongiorno, cari amici. Thank you for being here today. I’d like to say a few brief words about our guest, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. He’s new to his role as Prime Minister but has been a dedicated public service… servant for much of his working life.
As a member of the Italian parliament, he played an important role in many areas, notably in terms of oversight of the National Italian Broadcasting Agency. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he confronted diplomatic crises with calm and assurance. And now, as Prime Minister, he is ardently defending international commerce. I am very grateful for his support of the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement.
Citizens on both sides of the Atlantic can thank Prime Minister Gentiloni for the numerous opportunities and well-paid jobs that will flow from the full implementation of this major trade agreement.
Thank you once again, Paolo, for your support of CETA.
Of course, our meeting this morning and our meal here today is about more than just diplomatic and trade relations. It’s a chance for us to come together to celebrate a truly unique and special friendship. Canada, as you know, is home to just over 36 million Canadians, one and a half million of which identify as Italian Canadian. As I joked earlier today, the number seems to double every time the World Cup rolls around.
And that’s okay with me because our history shows that when Italians have made the difficult choice to leave their homeland and settle here, we’ve always been the better for it.
I experienced this first hand just yesterday when I had the chance to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario. I want to share a quick story with you because I think it says much about the connection that Italian-Canadians feel to both countries. Several business leaders, including Tony Gagliano and Tony Veroni, who are here today, brought together 26 different families who together raised $13 million to help build a new gallery space. What’s unique is that they didn’t want their own names on it. Instead, it was called ‘Galleria Italia,’ after the families’ beloved country of birth.
They wanted to honour the country they loved, a place that reveres art and artists while at the same time showing their love and respect for their adopted country of Canada. When the Italian government of the day heard about this, they awarded each family the Italian equivalent of the Order of Canada.
I am thankful as a father that my own children will be able to visit the Galleria Italia and better understand the connection between two countries that made it possible.
I’m also grateful that as Prime Minister I’ll have opportunities to spend more time with Prime Minister Gentiloni. We’ll have a chance to do that next month at the G7 Leaders Summit in Taormina followed by an official bilateral visit in Rome. After that, I will be making a visit to the Vatican City for an audience with His Holiness, Pope Francis. I’m especially happy that I’ll be bringing a number of prominent business leaders with me to Rome. They will be part of a business delegation that will accompany me, organized by the Italian Chambers of Commerce of Canada, and I know they will represent us very well.
So with that, I invite you all to join me in a toast. To the enduring friendship between Canada and Italy and to the many close ties that unite our people. May we continue to show the world what it truly means to be partners and friends. Cheers. Salute e buon appetito!