LIAM BRITTEN/FOR METRO Rocco Di Trolio at his East Hastings office on Tuesday.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said all politics is local.

For Vancouver, even Italian politics is local because of Rocco Di Trolio. He is an East Vancouver social worker and Italian immigrant running for the Italian senate.

Italy’s senate allows for six “overseas constituencies” to represent Italians abroad. Di Trolio is contesting the seat for North and Central America.

He said that many ex-pat Italians and their descendents are losing their connection to Italy thanks to government policies. He has helped many Italian-Canadians in his social work, especially with citizenship and pension issues, which are often a bureaucratic nightmare.

Perhaps most troubling for Di Trolio is the Italian government cutting funding for Italian-language schools abroad. He said this means future generations are being denied their heritage.

“In the west of Canada, we are losing the second, third generation, people who do not know anything about Italy,” he said. “And what they do know is the Italy of 50, 60 years ago, that they’ve been told by their parents.

The current representative for North and Central America is Basilio Giordano of Montreal. Giordano has held the seat since 2008 and is a member of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s People for Freedom party.

“He’s just sitting down to warm up the chair,” Di Trolio said. “[The government has] done so much damage to Italy’s image around the world. We need to change that … I want to bring my Canadian spirit into the Italian parliament.”

Local Italians voting in the election must have their ballots in to the Italy’s consulate in Vancouver by Feb. 21 before 4 p.m. The Italian election takes place Feb. 24-25.

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