Minister Fantino now scrambling to save his job

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Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino

Vets declare war on government following major fumble Tuesday

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino made a real mess of things Tuesday. A group of veterans from across Canada was in Ottawa to make one final plea to keep eight district VAC offices open. Those offices, including one in Charlottetown, are scheduled to close Friday and veterans are fearful that services and response times will be severely adversely affected. One of the delegates was an elderly Second World War vet in a wheelchair.

The delegation was first kept waiting, then the minister skipped the start of the meeting, showed up late as enraged vets were about to hold a press conference, reaffirmed there was no change in government’s decision, got into a shouting match and left abruptly. Video from the meeting shows Mr. Fantino and veterans trading testy exchanges. His office later issued a press release which claimed the minister and the vets had met in some phantom roundtable discussion. It was a public relations disaster from start to finish for Minister Fantino.

It certainly didn’t help when Prime Minister Stephen Harper answered a question in the Commons that afternoon, supporting the office closures, saying they were not very busy, but without offering any numbers as proof that was indeed the case.

If there is any group the government should pay close attention to, it is our veterans. They are the ones who put their lives on the line for us and the nation has non-negotiable obligations to them. This was all supposedly enshrined in a veterans’ charter passed by this government which has built its brand on being pro-armed forces and supportive of veterans. Now, veterans have declared war on the government and vow to campaign across the country in the next election.

To no one’s surprise, visibly upset veterans called for the minister to resign or be fired. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair repeated that demand in the Commons on Wednesday where PM Harper was scrambling to deal with the crisis.

In a desperate move to save his job, Minister Fantino has issued a full apology, claiming he was tied up in a meeting of cabinet. Meanwhile, his promise of open dialogue with vets lay shattered on the floors of the Parliament Building.

 

Province should close loophole

 

We have solid assurances our senior citizens are living in a safe environment in community care and nursing home facilities in this province. Sprinkler systems have been mandatory in such facilities – both provincially and privately operated - for the past 15 years. Provincial Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter is confident our seniors are well protected from fire.

But it would be a good idea, in view of the recent tragedy where more than 30 seniors died in a Quebec fire, to immediately inspect every such facility on the Island to check that those sprinkler systems are in proper working order.

It’s one thing to have them installed, as per regulations, but let’s ensure they will work in the event of a fire. Mr. Rossiter says P.E.I. leads the nation in this safety area and that inspections are done annually. But it’s best to be extra cautious.

In the meantime, the province must make sure that safety measures, like smoke and fire alarms, evacuation drills and sufficient overnight staffing, are in place. Sprinklers are not required in P.E.I. seniors’ apartments or buildings that don’t involve care. While these residents may not need nursing care, they are still elderly and would have some mobility issues. Could they escape a fire in the middle of a bitterly cold night? This is a loophole that needs closing.

Organizations: Veterans Affairs

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Charlottetown P.E.I. Quebec Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Jyll Valade
    February 04, 2014 - 15:24

    Ok, this is a feel good story opinion guy.. The truth is Julian is safe in his job since the PM will not do any thing so he isn't worried. He will be soon when election season comes around, will be all Canadian Veterans pointing our finger of DEMOCRACY AT HIM. I'm a Veteran, as my Wife is and my father and uncle. WE SERVED and we'll see that he learns humility ans service the coward hiding behind his PM, incidently another employee of ours.

  • Jyll Valade
    February 04, 2014 - 15:17

    Ok, this is a feel good story opinion guy.. The truth is Julian is safe in his job since the PM will not do any thing so he isn't worried. He will be soon when election season comes around, will be all Canadian Veterans pointing our finger of DEMOCRACY AT HIM. I'm a Veteran, as my Wife is and my father and uncle. WE SERVED and we'll see that he learns humility ans service the coward hiding behind his PM, incidently another employee of ours.

  • Gordon Parker
    February 02, 2014 - 05:47

    When will the government stop appointing mediocre or worse people to look after veterans. There have been very few Ministers of Veterans Affairs since the days of George Hees. What criteria do the wonders at PMO and PCO use to advise Harper on selections to fill the post of Minister of Veterans affairs? Certainly not a military background or understanding of veterans and their issues. Veterans deserve much better representation than Fantino and his hangers on.

  • Christine Cobb
    February 01, 2014 - 03:12

    Well I think that the the Unsigned Guardian Commentary is Right ~!Fatino should be Scrambling for his job ~!After All he is the Appointed Minister of Veterans Affair"s & it is A "Very Sad State of Affairs "he is creating ~! To Treat War Veterans with Such Disregard & Disrespect ~! First off ...How can He Run Constructively Veterans Affair's if he can not set his Own Schedules Correctly & Timely Re : Showing up for Veterans Meeting in Time Frame Late ..from Aproxiamately 45 - 70 minutes late for Meeting ~! ? Then his Blatant Disrespect to the Senior Veterans .. if You or I Held a job & tried this ? Where would we be? Dismissed . Fired ..Laid -off ?

  • Larry Jenkins
    February 01, 2014 - 01:53

    your comment section is a joke. what is with the gibberish code that most cannot read?

  • Larry Jenkins
    February 01, 2014 - 01:50

    This bum needs to finally get the boot. Classic example of promotion by failure. Talk about Catch 22 and how Major Major got all his promotions. This is the modern day Major Major Major. What a joke.

  • Lori
    January 31, 2014 - 16:19

    Right on Don! The way our government treats our Veterans should disgust every Canadian. Sad, pathetic and dome other words which aren't ladylike.

  • Justin T
    January 30, 2014 - 15:05

    Is this a surprise? This is the same way they are going to be treated by the new and improved Harpercare offices when DVA is shut down and the jobs goto his fishing budie riding in Nova Scotia. Ignored, yelled at basically made to feel like a person on EI. Gail Shea and the whole crew need to go in 2015!

  • don
    January 30, 2014 - 10:18

    you should be sent to war for 12 months no days off. and see what you think then. but in the old ways of war no place to sleep no hot meals you would be treated as our older vets were treated in the wars they fought just to give your lazy butt a nice job. you are a disgrace to canada.

  • Angus
    January 30, 2014 - 09:43

    An unsigned Guardian commentary's says Fantino is scrambling for his job? Oh well, we can take that as gospel I'm sure.