His Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with deep esteem and friendship that I address to you, to Your Excellency Madam Johnston and to this extraordinary Country, very cordial thanks for the warm welcome extended to me and to the Delegation accompanying me. I am particularly happy and honoured to be here with you, in such a significant year marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Canada and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations.
The quality and frequency of the visits exchanged, which have intensified during the past few years, testify to the vitality of a generous, sincere and solid relationship between the representatives of our respective Institutions and people, bound by a history that, also thanks to the contribution of the Italian emigrants who were welcomed in this Country, is of a very special nature.
Canada was and is an example of openness and authentic multiculturalism and we are proud that Italian immigrants were able to make a significant contribution to building this Country as we know it today; a contribution that, in another form, Canadians made to Italy in its fight to overcome the scourge of Nazi-Fascism.
Let us not forget - and we never will - the courageous commitment and the tribute in human lives that characterised the mission of more than 93,000 brave Canadian soldiers in Italy during World War II.
Between Canada and Italy there is a deep relationship built on the feelings that our peoples have been able, and have wanted, to hand down from one generation to the next.
This extraordinary legacy is present now more than ever in the one and a half million people who are proud Canadian citizens and appreciative of their Italian parentage and in the over one thousand Italian researchers who live and work successfully in this Country; in our youths' ever-more frequent cultural and study exchanges, in the variety and intensity of our bilateral economic, scientific and cultural relationships, which are facilitated by our traditional spontaneous inclination to understand each other.
The decision of Parliament to proclaim the month of June "Italian Heritage Month" strengthens our ties even more and makes them all the more unique.
Italy sees Canada as a precious ally with which to tackle the global challenges, numerous and difficult, that we are called on to meet. On the two shores of the Atlantic, the two Countries offer a testament to the policy of peace, respect for international interlocutors and cooperation.
This intrinsic harmony is fruit of the convinced sharing of the common principles on which our societies are founded: liberty, democracy, rule of law and solidarity.
These are the guiding principles that inspire our relationship, spreading confidence and hope among our citizens, assuring for all the possibility of developing their own aptitudes and skills and of acquiring the means necessary to live dignified lives.
Our Countries are the expression of open and inclusive social models in which solidarity, acceptance and assistance are terms that translate into tangible actions to assist the most vulnerable; models in which "diversity" is considered an element of cultural and social enrichment and not a cause of divisiveness and isolation.
Canada, traditionally attentive and currently engaged on the front of social inclusion, has welcomed thousands of refugees fleeing from martyrized Syria, giving many families a flicker of hope and opening for them a horizon for a future in this great Country.
Italy, on its part, is on the front line in the Mediterranean, rescuing thousands of human lives in a migration phenomenon that is epochal in its dimensions.
This is occurring on the borders with Europe, without however raising adequate awareness or sufficiently shared sensitivities in our Continent, which are the necessary prerequisites for common incisive action.
Solidarity, friendship and loyal cooperation between peoples are the values that we, Canadians and Italians, do not want to forgo (will never renounce).
These are not abstract enunciations but concrete commitments, as proven by the generous action of so many Canadians in favour of the families that were hard hit by the violent earthquakes in Central Italy.
A testament that has deeply impressed us and of which I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the people and Institutions of this great Country.
An open society is also characterised by the choices it is capable of making to bolster the growth of all of Humankind. Canada and Italy share the passion and commitment for different and important challenges, some of the most important of which are the struggle against climate change and the promotion of a free and equitable international economy and trade.
Ottawa's and Rome's convinced and reaffirmed support of the Paris Agreements on climate change and Italy's strong stand in favour of the implementation of the trade treaty between the European Union and Canada are the latest proof of the two Countries' traditional common commitment in this sense.
More generally speaking, there is a broad convergence - embracing almost all the "global" issues - that has assured a profitable cooperation under Italy's Presidency of the G7.
It is no coincidence that the priorities singled out by Canada in view of next year's Presidency are all constructively consistent with the recent results of the Taormina Summit.
It is in this spirit of friendly, constructive and deep-reaching dialogue that I would like to renew to your Excellency, to the Country's Authorities and to all Canadians, my most sincere and heartfelt wishes for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Canada, an anniversary that the Italian Republic has wanted to pay tribute to with the presence in Halifax, Montreal and Quebec of the Amerigo Vespucci, the training Tall Ship that is the symbol of the Italian Navy.
Being certain that our meeting today follows in the wake of the common intentions and principles that have always marked our bilateral cooperation, I invite you all to raise your glasses and join me in a toast to your personal wellbeing, to the prosperity of our friends the Canadians and to the friendship between Canada and the Republic of Italy.