Speeches by Lawerence Greenspon and Pat Santini
Pat was born in Italy and came to Canada, at the age of 12 1/2. He literally spoke no English as he entered Grade 7, yet 6 years later, in Grade 13, he was head boy at St. Pius X. When his family arrived in Ottawa, Pat, his parents and 5 siblings lived in a basement apartment on Irving Street on the outskirts of Little Italy. The 6 siblings shared 1 bedroom and 1 bed. Both parents worked to keep food on the table and Pat immediately took a paper route, the revenue from which he used to pay the tuition a St. Pius, the school he was determined to attend. That same determination led him on to university and law school at the University of Ottawa. After graduation from Law School at Ottawa U, Pat worked at Hughes Laishley, doing exclusively insurance law. He was later courted, wined and dined, not by his wife Leslie, but by Larry Kelly. Word out is that Larry Kelly spent more time recruiting Pat than he did recruiting Steve Yzerman and Doug Gilmour combined.
Pat has never forgotten his roots. He loves to visit his home in the little town of San Giovanni in Fiori in the mountains of Calabria and when he does he stays in the very home he grew up in. I can just imagine him sitting there in the evening with a litre of vino de casa. When I first spoke to Pat about introducing him he said, “Lawrence, you know me, warts and all but go easy on the warts.” I said “Pat warts? Who knows you have any warts. By 9:30 in the morning you have a 5 o’clock shadow, who can see your warts?” While speaking to lawyers, judges, old law school classmates I received comments about Pat like: “ he should be on the short list for canonization” , “ he’s so exciting and controversial and daring... Not! “ , “ he should be the main character in a book called 50 Shades of Beige “ I should tell you that I tried getting stories from many sources but the fact is that outside of his kids, his wife, wine, carpentry, athletics, music, soccer, law, community, playing guitar, travel and all things Italian, he doesn’t really have any interests. In truth, he’s boring.
Pat and Larry Kelly have built one of the most respected law firms in the country but I have to say that Pat has really got the travel bug. He has assembled a team of excellent people to replace him in his absences which are frequent.
Pat gets along with everyone in our court system, support staff, lawyers and judges - in fact one judge I spoke to, told me about a trip to Italy where the persuasive Pat managed to have the judge massaging his back on a daily basis, in a public place, restaurants, parks, and on street corners. Fortunately neither Pat nor the Judge were arrested. Pat is an amazing vinophile who believes “in vino veritas”.
Unfortunately he is in the process of drinking the terrific collection he has assembled over the years as he gets ready to move to the new condo.
Poor Pat having to drink all that wine. Any of you been invited to his cellar lately? So in the categories of wine, women and song, we’ve done wine, we’ll move to song. Pat, if you don’t know this, is an accomplished musician. He plays guitar and sings and if you get enough grappa into him HE actually thinks he’s good. I’ve had the misfortune of hearing Pat insist on playing a guitar with 3 strings missing and the ones that were there, were out of tune.
Pat’s adventures and interests have been supported by his loving wife Leslie for many years. Their dedication to their 3 very individual kids, Scott, Lauren and Adam is a model for us all.
Pat is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a specialist in civil litigation. He is a guest lecturer and seminar leader in insurance law and trial advocacy at the University of Ottawa. He has been an Instructor for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Bar Admission Course for the Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility and Advocacy courses He is the Past president of the Risk Management Counsel of Canada.
In 2012, Pat received the Ontario Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Insurance Law and was admitted to the International Association of Defence Counsel.
I am very proud of my classmate and close friend Pascuale Santini. He has been a champion for those who face the challenges of Crohn’s, Colitus, and Colo- rectal cancer, tirelessly raising funds for research and treatment of the 3C’s.
He has enabled his law firm Kelly Santini to become one of the leading supporters of the Special Olympics. And his community commitment is reflected in the tremendous contributions made by each and every one of the lawyers at his firm.
As for Villa Marconi, I expect that now that Pat has picked out a condo on the top floor, he will continue his support of this residence. He has always been there to support the essential charitable work that is the lifeblood of our community. I am privileged to introduce you to my close friend, a terrific lawyer and most of all, a great human being.
In our current age of anxiety and uncertainty, I think of Italy, the land of la dolce vita, and it reminds me that the most important things in life are always close at hand, a home cooked meal , a glass of wine, the comfort and company of good friends and family, and that is all here tonight for me. Grazie mille, thank you so much for being here to support me and the Villa Marconi.
First I want to thank the organizing committee for granting me this great honour. It is very humbling for me to stand here and receive this knowing that there are so many worthy candidates, but i am happy that you chose me.
Second, I want to thank my wonderful and beautiful wife and family for the support they have given me all of my life. This is a testament to you and not just to me. It is a team award. And speaking of teams, I would be remiss if i did not mention the great support i have received from my partners, associates and staff at Kelly Santini. You have been there for me in good and bad times. Thank you. There are so many people to thank and for fear of forgetting anyone, you know who you are, and I thank you all.
I was taught early that when you are given the podium you should use the opportunity to make a difference. Today I want to talk to you about leadership In our Italian Community. The leadership of today and the leadership of tomorrow.
The great American author William Faulkner wrote that “tomorrow began 10,000 years ago”, meaning that the seeds of today and tomorrow were planted long ago and that the leaders of today and tomorrow were groomed by their predecessors.
I consider our parents’ and grandparents’ generation the greatest generations ever in the world. Generations that fought wars and made peace.
Some may argue that to fight wars means they also created them, but that cannot be said of those generations. Those wars were brought upon them by tyrants the likes of Stalin and Hitler. They were given no choice but to defend themselves and attack. And yet at the end of the wars even when they won they ensured prosperity for the losers by rebuilding their countries. Look at Japan and Germany today.
There is no argument that they were forgiving in success and that is what sets them apart from other generations and to me they remain the greatest generations ever. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations had courage. The type of courage to move families ½ way across the world to foreign lands. The courage to sacrifice their old lives by leaving families and friends behind.
The type of courage to start new lives from nothing but the shirts on their backs and in many cases debts owed in the old country to finance their trips abroad. And notwithstanding these adversities they succeeded and not only made new lives, but successful lives for themselves and their children. Us. Which brings me to our generation. We are the beneficiaries of our parents’ courage and sacrifices. We learned from them and I for one and many of you as well, maintained a connection to our old country because of them. Most of those my age were born and some were raised in Italy as I was, and this allowed us to maintain that connection to our roots, values and traditions. But the next generation that follows us and the one that follows them are farther removed from this connection. Most if not all were born here and their connection to Italy is vicarious through their family. Because of that distance they need to work harder to keep those connections. And that is where we come in. Our parents built places where our heritage and traditions could be celebrated. Places like St. Anthony’s church, St. Anthony’s hall and Villa Marconi. Places where they could gather to connect with their past and present. Our generation has heralded and nourished these places but we need to work harder and do more to allow our successor leaders of tomorrow to continue these traditions and allow them to flourish as our parents did with us.
I am truly honoured and humbled to have been considered a leader of our community today and to be part of a heritage that has honoured past leaders in many fields. Business leaders such as Luigi Mion, Mario Giannetti and our honourary Italian Lorne Kelly. Political leaders such as Bob Chiarelli and Julian Fantino. Medical leaders like Dr. Wilbert Keon, and last but not least my legal hero Mr. Justice frank Iacobucci of the supreme court of Canada. My membership in this group is overwhelming and humbling.
These leaders infiltrated Canadian society with their courage, passion and commitment. They and our parents made it their responsibility to build the leaders of today and it is our responsibility to ensure we nourish and pave the way for the leaders of tomorrow. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a ways to go. But our future looks good with young people like the Giannetti and Frangione clan, the Mion clan, the Bassi’s, the Russo’s, the Filoso’s, Lafelice’s and the Cuconato’s.
I see great promise ahead for our Italian community and we will be in good hands with them. Like our parents did with us, in them we entrust our community’s future connection to our Italian values and traditions and we need to ensure that they know they have our continued support.
Io sono felice di essere nato e cresciuto in italia, di essere italiano. Pero sono orgoglioso di essere diventato canadese. Questa combinazione di cultura del mondo vecchio, e la generosita canadese sono risponsabile per l’ uomo che io sono oggi. Un italiano-canadese che da credito alle due nazioni e culture. Una colloborazione tra il passato e il futuro.
Per questo devo ringraziare i miei genitori francesco e caterina santini per i loro sacrifici. Senza il loro coraggio per avere fatto il lungo viaggio di venire qui in una zona straniera, non avevo le opportunita che ho avuto qui in Canada.
I cherish and respect my Italian heritage every single day. I wasn’t just born into it or inherited it. I chose it as my own and i herald it daily. It sets me apart from others. It is a heritage that is carried on through our institutions like Villa Marconi and others. These institutions are not only gathering places. They are collectors, distributors and purveyors of culture, values and traditions.
Take Villa Marconi as an example. It not only houses and cares for our parents and grandparents, but recently it added the cultural wing, a setting that will always remind us and our successors of not only our past but of our future.
I urge our leaders of today to ensure our future with our leaders of tomorrow and instill in them the responsibility that our parents instilled in us to carry on what they started and make it even prouder and better. Membership in any society carries some responsibility and i for one will ensure that my children and grandchildren will foster and enhance what our previous generations started. We have a great community and our future is assured.
Grazie mille per questa opportunita di passare a voi un messagio che he importante per me e per la comunita italiana, e grazie con tutto il mio cuore per questo grandissimo onore.
Thank you with all my heart for allowing me to pass on a message that is important to me and our Italian community. And thank you so much for granting me membership in this wonderful society of leaders. It is truly an honour and a privilege that is granted to few. I promise that i will not let you down. In fact I promise that I will make you proud.
Grazie mille and thank you.