Veterans Affairs minister says he doesn't owe Charlottetown another meeting

Dave Stewart
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MP Julian Fantino says he already met with Mayor Clifford Lee but councillors say there's no documentation from meeting

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino answers a question during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa last month. FILE PHOTO

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino isn’t apologizing for declining an invitation from Charlottetown council to meet over job cuts and the closure of the district office.

Fantino responded Monday to a recent story in The Guardian that stated he refused to meet with council.

City council passed a unanimous resolution last month calling on Fantino and Island MP Gail Shea to meet with council and explain the decision to close the district office and trim more than 200 jobs. Coun. Mitchell Tweel, who moved the resolution, wants the meeting open to the public and media.

However, Fantino said there was no need to meet with all of council after he had “a frank discussion’’ in January with Mayor Clifford Lee, administrative services chairman Cecil Villard and chief administrative officer Roy Main.

“Mayor Lee is the elected representative of the City of Charlottetown, which is why it was appropriate for me to meet with him,’’ Fantino said in a letter emailed to The Guardian. “But, if other councillors don’t believe he is able to effectively represent the city, that is an issue for Charlottetown council to resolve.’’

“Mayor Lee is the elected representative of the City of Charlottetown, which is why it was appropriate for me to meet with him. But, if other councillors don’t believe he is able to effectively represent the city, that is an issue for Charlottetown council to resolve.’’ Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, in an email to The Guardian

Tweel wasn’t happy at all.

“I have to question the federal minister . . . maybe he doesn’t know how local government functions,’’ Tweel said, clearly upset. “We have 10 equal councillors for the 35,000 citizens who live, work and pay taxes in this city since 1855.’’

Tweel also questions whether Fantino truly understands the impact of the job cuts and decision to close the district office.

“We are elected (politicians), just like he is. That is why we want to sit down and discuss the issue.’’

Coun. Danny Redmond, who asked to comment on this story, said he doesn’t appreciate Lee and Villard meeting with the minister behind council’s back.

“There is no documentation (from that meeting),’’ Redmond said. “We have no idea what they talked about. You would think there would be a paper trail back to council.’’

Fantino reiterated his original point, saying the City of Charlottetown needs to decide who speaks for council.

“While Charlottetown council and Mayor Lee can publicly squabble about who truly represents the city, I will continue my work to ensure that veterans get the services and support they need,’’ Fantino said.

Organizations: Charlottetown council, Veterans Affairs

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Debbie
    February 26, 2014 - 11:20

    To "Garth Staples", Harper is making fools of all Canadians, especially Atlantic Canada and as far as most Atlantic Canadians are concerned THAT IS A FACT.

  • John Ely
    February 26, 2014 - 01:06

    Mayor Tweel, I'm truly sorry to hear Mr. Fantino has declined your invitation to dicuss the closing of your VAC office. I'm sure it must be very frustraing for you and your council.. Now that you are aware of how he avoids answering legitimate questions in an open forum I'm sure you'll have a better understanding of how we, Canada's Veterans, are feeling having Mr. Fantino as our advocate, parliamentory representative and the person mandated to assist us in our time of need. As for his demeanour don't take it personally. He looks down his nose at anyone who even dares think of challenging him with regards to a decision he made or was told to make. If you really want him to visit Charlottetown simply put up a Memorial to Veterans and invite him to speak. He'll move heaven and earth to be there for the photo opportunity. Best regards, WO John D. Ely, CD (Ret'd)

  • Unimportant Maritimer
    February 25, 2014 - 20:32

    Take note everyone how unimportant we Maritimers and our Veterans are to our Harper Government. Why should he meet with city council? Why not! they were elected to make our city better so don't hammer them because they are at least trying to take care of city business. City business, that's right, if the VAC buildings in Charlottetown close, and don't be surprised if they do, downtown will close. So if you belong to the 'must be great' club who bashes Government employees who in reality are only jealous because they don't have a Government job then at least think about all the non Government employees and store owners in Charlottetown who could lose their livelihood . And we the taxpayers who voted this excuse of a politition (and Gail Shea too) has an obligation to talk to us about concerns that affect us and our Veterans. Our poor disrespected Veterans will soon be reduced to calling 1 800 numbers to get any help. Maybe if our children in school were educated more about death, the unbelievable pain and destruction our Veterans suffered they would take more of a stand against our country being 'harpooned' by a tyrant who has no positive agenda for his own country. Lets not forget that right after the election he closed a lot of satellite Service Canada offices in the Maritimes. But what most of you don't realize is that he closed all of these offices in constituents that elected Liberal or NDP. Check this out!! Is that democracy? Does a father only take care of some of his children? Does a good leader make yellow bellies out of his workers? Does a leader with integrity stand in a foreign country and gives praise and support because the US does to one part of a nation and not offer support to the other part of the nation who lives in refugee camps? Think about these questions, the answers should be easy. So thank Mayor Lee and his team for at least showing an effort. I'm ashamed of our Federal Government.

  • scott
    February 25, 2014 - 18:05

    Garth Staples, you tired old tory hack... the only time we hear from you is to champion the tory cause..... Are you a reformer like Harper, or a Progressive Conservative? The only time we see your comments is to toot the Harper horn. Strangely, not a peep from you on Harpers prorogue of parliment, his many many broken promises, and lately, when when three of his appointees to the senate gouged the taxpayers. Oh, remember that promise Garth from Harper, to not have appointees, and abolish the senate? Hows that working for you? You are just a tired old party hack, hoping that with enough comments to the Guardian they might give you that L. Govenors job. Good luck with that Garth . The liberals booted you, and the Torys laugh at you.

  • JP
    February 25, 2014 - 15:08

    Gotta side with Fantino on this one. Why would he waste his time re-meeting with Charlottetown when they can't seem to get their act together. This story shouldn't be about Fantino not wanting to waste his time (and our tax dollars) to have the same meeting twice. It seems to me this is more an issue of city council squabbles over who's more important, who should be in meetings, and whether or not Lee and Villard are being transparent.

    • Regular Joe
      Regular Joe
      February 26, 2014 - 10:26

      @ JP . Really you seriously think this is a waste of Fantinos time . Last time I checked he was a minister in our federal Government and has a duty to speak with city councils when they ask him too explain business and decisions by him that affect their cities . Just another arrogant minister following in the shadow of the puppet master Harper who calls the shots . Funny how quick they forget who they represent when they get a little power under their belt . This Government is on the way out and doesn't care what the people want anymore as they know their toast .

  • Debbie
    February 25, 2014 - 15:02

    And this coming from the Veterans Affairs Minister? So much for our veterans spilling their blood for our country. Absolutely no respect from this federal government for anybody, let alone our veterans. Harper should be ashamed of himself for allowing Fantino to be in his cabinet. Arrogance at its best!!

    • Garth Staples
      February 25, 2014 - 17:38

      The Fed Govt increased the budget for Veterans programmes by 1 billion dollars. Get a grip on your facts.

    • Debbie
      February 26, 2014 - 10:03

      Garth, Harper is making fools of all Canadians, especially Atlantic Canada and as far as most Atlantic Canadians are concerned THAT IS A FACT.

  • Dundas Sue
    February 25, 2014 - 14:43

    Simply a sign of the arrogance of the Harper Goivernment. Shea can say what she likes in caucus but ouside of that she has to toe the line; that's how paraty politics works. While Lee should not have met with Fantino alone why aren't there records. What else are we going to lose ? Waiting for the other shoe to drop......

    • Garth Staples
      February 25, 2014 - 15:08

      The arrogance of your question is only exceeded by the misrepresentation of the facts.

  • vick
    February 25, 2014 - 14:30

    Here we go again...Tweel and Redmond upset go figure! Why would an elected Federal Minister meet with Mitchel Tweel or Danny Redmond...he'd be like "who"...I would love to see voting at large in the city and see how long these two guys stay elected......good job thy run in the districts they run in! If these guys are so concerned over the big issues put your name in the hat and run for Mayor or Provincial/Federal Politics????

  • Ndp
    February 25, 2014 - 12:14

    This Harper government has it out for pei.. That is why we need every islander to vote liberal or ndp... Gail Shea is a disgrace to pei for getting up during the Ei vote and walking out because she knew it would be the nail in her coffin either way .. Harper would have reprimanded her or islanders would have crucified her so she had to walk out.. And she supports the Feds stripping pei of all these federal jobs across the province.. Major money for the economy of pei... What kind of representative of our island would support this damage to our economy??? GAIL SHEA the only one there to fight for our economy and she bowed down to tyrant Harper to keep her portfolio.. Pei is sinking to the point people are gonna snap!!! GAIL you make me sick not once have you questioned any decisions Harper has made against pei and you yourself know pei was struggling as it was.. I hate to say I voted Conservative but as long as Harper and YOU are in there I'll never vote conservative.. I call on all islanders even the ones in Gail Shea's district that she's trying to buy votes from vote these cruel ba&$:(ds out for the sake of our island economy!!!

    • Hank
      February 25, 2014 - 13:50

      To Ndp, Why do you think the feds don't want to give to little old PEI other then in Sheas riding? Could the answer be that most every fool on the Island elected a bunch of washed up Liberals to sit with a majority Conservative government in Ottawa.... DUH Perhaps Islanders will open their eyes on the next federal and provincial elections and vote Conservative as I did, god willing. Keep up the great house cleaning Conservative Party of Canada.... You have my vote!

    • To hank
      February 25, 2014 - 15:10

      You are going to be in for quite a shock then come next election.

    • Reply to: To Hank
      February 25, 2014 - 17:42

      You wish!!!!

  • Concerned
    February 25, 2014 - 12:01

    Just more Fantino LIES.... Veterans, still serving members and their families deserve respect, this government should be ashamed of themselves. Why not cut the money you idiots are spending and making sure those who serve and served are taken care of.. For once make the right decisions.

  • mark
    February 25, 2014 - 10:48

    As much as I dislike Fantino, he is right on target with his comments about the city council.

  • johnthames
    February 25, 2014 - 10:29

    Villard cannot be trusted.

  • Summerside Resident
    February 25, 2014 - 10:20

    Just a gutless Politician. He tried to make a fool out of the Veterans that backfired on him now if thinks he is to good to meet with City elected Council. What a phony. Should have been fired over the Jets Project for his mistruths to Government and his bungled meeting with the Veterans. Harper sure can pick them. You are a disgrace Fantino, you past Police career identified that. Resign or someone better have the brains to see this guy is washed up.

    • Garth Staples
      February 25, 2014 - 11:20

      Pray tell how he made "a fool out of the Veterans"?

    • Christine
      February 26, 2014 - 13:42

      In Answer to Your Question" Pray tell how did Veteran's Affairs Minister Mr Fantino "..... "Make fools of the Veterans ~! "You ... Sir have got that Sadly Spun ~! May I ask you have you been Observing the News of Late ? Mr. Fantino did not "Make Fools of the Veterans " He rather made A "Public Fool of Oneself~!" The way he treated the Elderly Retired Veterans of War was Indeed a" Cry for Help" it was in certainly an "Eye opener to Canadians "the Veterans Affairs Ministers Dealing's & Meeting's with Veteran"s was to say the least Just Appauling ... Simply Arrogant Disrespectful & Showed the Veterans of Our Country & the Public just how Mr Fantino is not the Right Character for his Respectful Appointed Title he has been "Graciously Awarded "~! " Minister of Veterans Affairs " position would I would presume would be working "Closely in Harmony with his Veterans of War ~!" Not Against~! Respectfully!