MP Julian Fantino says he already met with Mayor Clifford Lee but councillors say there's no documentation from meeting
© The Canadian Press
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.
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.