Everyone knows that the University of Guelph attracts some of the best in the world, so it might come as little surprise that a U of G professor could be brought in to an important position like the junior minister for agriculture in the Italian government.
But like a political satire in the vein of Canadian Bacon or Wag the Dog, the presence of Francesco Braga was not demanded in Rome, but rather it was Francesco Braga who was the new junior agricultural minister. Confused yet? So were a lot of people manning the offices of the fledgling Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.
The story broke today in the Toronto Star. U of G's Braga, willfully talking to The Star unlike other public figures, about his whirlwind experience being a highly sought after member of the Italian government. Long story short, Italian Agriculture Minister Mario Catania told the Italian news agency ANSA that he didn't know his new junior minister personally, but knew he was a business professor at the U of G. Braga, in his Guelph home, started being pelted with calls from not just the Italian government, but the Italian media as well.
But soon the powers that be realized that the professors who's spent 28 years living and teaching in Canada may not be the guy they were referring to. Instead, Franco Braga, a civil engineer that specializes in earthquakes, was the man of the hour. He had been recommended for the infrastructure ministry, but ended up shuffled to agriculture instead.
To make things even more screwy, apparently, the "real" Francesco Braga hasn't been seen and has yet to be sworn in to his new position. The U of G version of Francesco Braga, meanwhile, continues teaching and marking papers in his basement office at home during off hours.