Horwath in Italy on cultural and economic “mission”

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Over 60,000 Italian-Canadians call Hamilton home, representing almost 12 per cent of the city’s population. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette


Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath is currently in Italy on a cultural and economic mission, according to a statement released by her office last week.

The mayor left Canada on Monday, July 3 and is expected back Friday, July 14.

She will be visiting the cities of Racalmuto, Abruzzo, Palermo, and Rome “to celebrate the friendships with Italy and its cultural and economic significance to the City of Hamilton.”

Racalmuto, which is located in Sicily, has been one of Hamilton’s “twin cities” since 1985, a relationship that has continued for over 30 years.

A City of Hamilton document from 2006 shows Hamilton has nine other twin cities: Shawinigan, Quebec (1958); Kaga, Japan (1968); Mangalore, India (1968); Fukuyama, Japan (1975); Ma’Anshan, China (1987); Flint, Michigan (1987); Sarasota, Florida (1991); Valle Peligna, Abruzzo, Italy (1992); and Monterrey, Mexico (1996).

Hamilton has a particularly close relationship with Racalmuto, however, since more than 25,000 Hamilton residents have roots in the Italian city. Part of Murray Street West in Hamilton is named Corso Racalmuto, recognizing the population.

Over 35,000 Hamilton residents have connections to other Italian cities, meaning that Hamilton’s Italian population comprises over 60,000 people and makes up almost 12 per cent of the city’s population.

According to census data, Italians are the fifth most populous ethnic group in Hamilton. English (24.8%), Canadian (23.7%), Scottish (18.7%), and Irish (16.6%) are Hamilton’s top four.

Horwath’s trip follows trips made by previous mayors of both cities. Mayor Fred Eisenberger visited Racalmuto in 2016 and Racalmuto’s mayor visited Hamilton in September 2022.

In terms of cultural events, Horwath will be in Italy for Festa Maria SS. Del Monte (St. Mary of the Mountain Festival) events, a major religious feast celebrated in Sicily.

Joining the Mayor is a delegation of 70 community partners including members of the Sicilian Cultural Society of Hamilton Inc., Festa del Monte Hamilton, and Fratellanza Racalmutese committees. The Mayor’s partner is also reportedly going on the trip.

City spokesperson Antonella Giancarlo said via email that the City is not covering the costs or travel expenses for the community partners joining Horwath or for Horwath’s partner.

Flights for the mayor will reportedly total $2,952.49 CAD, which includes a round trip from Toronto to Rome and two flights within Italy between cities. Accommodation will be $1,552.91 CAD, making Horwath’s total for flights and accommodation $4,505.40 CAD.

The delegation will be meeting with senior Italian government officials, touring key Italian cultural areas, and having a number of one-on-one meetings with Italian dignitaries, including Francesca La Marca, Senator of the Italian Republic and Sindaco Vincenzo Maniglia, Mayor of Racalmuto.

Giancarlo says that “this mission, as with many missions led by previous Hamilton mayors, is an important opportunity to further strengthen our relationship with our international partners and opens the door for future trade and economic development opportunities. Hamilton is home to many Italian-led businesses and this mission showcases how global cities are fully embracing face-to-face relations in the 21st century.” 

“Our hope is to build on our strong relationship with the Italian market to further attract investments and business partnerships,” she added.

However, some Hamilton-based political commentators take issue with the trip saying that it is inappropriate when the city is in the midst of debates about encampments and affordability.

Other pundits seem to object to Horwath taking any trip via airplane, saying that flying is irresponsible during a “climate crisis.” 

One person who weighed in on the debate is Hamilton political commentator and former News Director of CHCH TV John Best. He appeared on 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show on Tuesday.

Best marvelled at the cost of Horwath’s travel expenses, saying that $4,500 for flights and 11 days of accommodations in Italy is a pretty good deal.

Best added, “I can’t think of a country she could go to that would have more connection to Hamilton than someplace in Italy, particularly Sicily.”

“We can be very small about this kind of stuff but she’s got a bunch of people going with her. There are certainly some people there that are going to make some useful contacts.”


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