Saturday, December 3, 2011

Canada: "University of Guelph Professor Mistakenly Named Italian Minister"

I do not see this a a reflection on Italy's ability to solve its economic and governance problems.

From the Ottawa Sun:
In what Italian media is calling a "comedy of errors," the Italian government mistakenly appointed a University of Guelph professor who has been living in Canada for 28 years as the new Italian junior minister of agriculture this week.
And even though the appointment was meant for another prof with a similar name, many say the Canadian-Italian man -- who happens to be an agriculture expert with connections to the Italian business industry --  is the better man for the job. And as a dual citizen, he would have qualified.
"I am absolutely delighted to be in Canada. I am in Canada by choice. But Italy is my birthplace. It would have been a great opportunity, an opportunity to serve one of my two countries," said Francesco Braga.
Braga was online in the wee hours Tuesday to find out who was appointed to the new Italian government when he saw his own name listed on the government site.
"I called my wife and said, 'Look at this,' and she said, 'Yeah, yeah, it must be someone else," said Braga.
Then he saw his picture splashed all over the Italian media. The minister of agriculture was quoted as saying he knew Braga by reputation and that he'd make a great addition to the team.
Braga's inbox got flooded with e-mails from "industry, friends and foes" congratulating him on his new gig.
Then he got an e-mail from the agriculture minister asking him to get in contact immediately. He needed to make his way to Rome for a swearing in. He even got permission from his university to take a leave of absence.
Despite all this, he couldn't get a straight answer from the government about whether he was really their guy. The agriculture ministry seemed sure at first, but then said there was "some confusion."
He called the Italian prime minister's office and a spokesman asked, "Are you the under-secretary of agriculture?"
"I said, essentially, you guys wake up and tell me," said Brago. "You are the government that is going to be preventing Italy from collapsing  . . .  and you seem to be confused."
Brago, a Roman Catholic, told the PMO representative: "May God protect Italy because you guys are a bunch of confused people."
"The guy was not amused," he said.
Turns out, the appointment was meant for one Franco Braga, an expert on anti-seismic building techniques at Rome's Sapienza University.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera pointed out it was an easy mistake to make, since the Guelph prof is a better fit for the job, actually having expertise in agriculture....MORE
The CBC interview is pretty funny. And the earthquake guy will be running agriculture.