© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino speaks to reporters in Charlottetown in Jan. 15, 2014.
Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino is refusing to meet with Charlottetown City Council.
Council unanimously backed a resolution last month asking for a meeting with Fantino and Island MP Gail Shea over job cuts and a decision to close the veterans affairs district office in Charlottetown.
Fantino happened to be in Charlottetown the next day and did meet with Mayor Clifford Lee, administrative services chairman Cecil Villard and chief administrative officer Roy Main. While he agreed to that meeting, the federal minister declined to meet with council.
Main said his office always makes a habit of following up requests made by council and did so in this case as well.
Main said he wrote Fantino a letter, inviting the minister to meet with council but “I’ve heard nothing’’ since. The city’s chief administrative officer added that when Fantino was in town “he was insistent’’ that he would meet with only the mayor.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel wants the city to keep pushing for a meeting, one which includes all of council and the public.
“Veterans are very, very upset and I think the 10 councillors can help with that. The federal government needs to know that this council means business,’’ Tweel said.
Villard said he and Lee remain very active on the file, noting the city didn’t even know Fantino was coming to town last month until the Charlottetown Legion sent the word out to City Hall and the media.
Villard said they met with Fantino for more than an hour and the resolution that council passed last month, asking for a meeting, was passed on to the minister.
“It was a very open and frank discussion,’’ Villard said, noting that Fantino was on a very tight schedule and didn’t have time to stay and meet with council.
The city also sent letters to federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair.
Villard explained that he, Lee and Main clearly articulated the city’s concerns to Fantino.
Tweel wants the city to send Fantino another letter, requesting a meeting with council but Villard doesn’t think it would make a difference.
“I can’t force the minister to meet with council,’’ Villard said.