Veterans Affairs minister will not meet with Charlottetown council

Dave Stewart
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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.

Organizations: Veterans Affairs, Charlottetown council

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Billy
    February 22, 2014 - 09:45

    Charlottetown and summerside legions are just local pubs with the legion name. Pei gets over 50 cents of every dollar it spends from the Feds. What other province gets that. Ghiz spends it selling Anne books in Asia. The Feds don't have to talk to the city council to know what is going on here. The Feds are trying to save money and still provide a service, which they are doing.

  • Bill MacIntyre
    February 21, 2014 - 16:14

    I don't know what is worse - the way Harper and Fantino are treating the veterans or the way Garth Staples still supports them despite the shoddy treatment they are giving our veterans. It must be something in the DNA of right wingers here on the Island that they will support a government no matter how bad they treat Islanders who are their own friends, neighbours and even family. Gail Shea comes from a fishing family so knows better than many in the Harper caucus just what it means to live in a seasonal economy, but she is silent on the EI changes and even says it is good for the Island. What does Garth Staples say - "Don't you think it is about time PEI joins Canada?" Staples' nonsensical comment comes from a die hard Tory who is bereft of any intelligent solutions to the problems facing the Island and its people. All that he has left in his bag of "ideas" is partisan clap trap.

    • Jeff Carlson
      February 21, 2014 - 18:39

      Read a book. You're blathering Liberal Party talking points -- which are easily disproven by 5 minutes of research -- as if they're facts. It's silly. PEI has gotten more from the Harper government than they've ever received from the Liberals. That includes transfer payments to the PEI gov't which Sheridan and Ghiz immediately squander, tax relief to Island families, and direct federal spending in PEI. No matter how you look at it, we're getting more in every category from the Harper government. These are facts. Spend 5 minutes looking up the numbers. As for the issue of Veterans, yes they closed the office located in room 7 of the federal building and moved it to the Service Canada office located in room 4. The sky is falling, huh? The government also made it possible for Veterans Affairs staff to meet veterans in their own homes. There's no argument against the Harper Tories unless you're willfully blind, ignorant, and you consider nonsense to be more important than facts and common sense. We're better off with Harper. So, read a book, become a Conservative.

  • scott
    February 21, 2014 - 15:22

    Garth Staples, Dont you think perhaps its time your hero Harper treats PEI as an equal in Confederation and not just some backwoods poor relative with a "culture of defeat"? Maybe you should try championing the Island cause with your hero Harper, after all you seem to be the no 1 cheerleader on his squad. I'm sure you have more clout then Gail the way you seem to be more pro Harper then she is.

    • Mike C
      February 21, 2014 - 16:08

      Garth Staples, when you give your point of view I Guiz, I am with you. At the Federal level you lose me. You do know that Harper is not "Progressive" Conservative, right. That he is a wolf in sheeps clothing. He is The Reform/Tea Party North party. You can be non liberalism, but be careful how Right (wrong) you're willing to go.

    • Mike C
      February 21, 2014 - 16:09

      Garth Staples, when you give your point of view I Guiz, I am with you. At the Federal level you lose me. You do know that Harper is not "Progressive" Conservative, right. That he is a wolf in sheeps clothing. He is The Reform/Tea Party North party. You can be non liberalism, but be careful how Right (wrong) you're willing to go.

    • Garth Staples
      February 21, 2014 - 16:14

      Equal you say? PEI has had special treatment since 1873! Where have you been?

  • Garth Staples
    February 21, 2014 - 13:49

    Don't you think it is time PEI joins Canada?

    • Observer from the East
      February 21, 2014 - 15:15

      What an utterly ridiculous comment. Get serious.