Julian Fantino would prefer that you refrain from pointing at him

A cabinet minister is confronted

by Aaron Wherry

The dispute—between veterans, one of the major public sector unions and the federal government—over the planned closure of several Veterans Affairs offices and the future delivery of services to veterans has been building for some time, but now the news networks have video of Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino in a rather contentious meeting with several unimpressed veterans.

Here is what the CBC aired and here is what CTV has shown. And now Thomas Mulcair wants Mr. Fantino to remove himself (or be removed) from cabinet.

Whatever the merits of each side’s argument (and setting aside the issues around the scheduling of this meeting and a debate we might have about what amount and kind of pointing a cabinet minister should have to accept) it’s at least interesting to see a politician captured on film in such a relatively unregulated encounter with the public. I’m reminded of Conservative MP David Wilks’ semi-famous encounter with constituents in May 2012. The most interesting moment of Justin Trudeau’s leadership so far (at least before this morning) might’ve been this exchange with a woman last September.

How often does this even happen any more? Possibly not enough. For four years after the Liberals formed government in 1993, the CBC broadcast an annual town hall meeting with Jean Chretien, during which Canadians could put questions to the Prime Minister. He had a bit of a rough go in 1996 and the exercise was never again repeated, but it’d be lovely to see it brought back.

Update 1:42pm. Mr. Fantino’s office has now sent out a statement from the minister.

“Yesterday, due to Cabinet meeting that ran long, I was very late in meeting a group of Veterans that had come to Ottawa to discuss their concerns. I sincerely apologize for how this was handled. Today, I am reaching out to those Veterans to reiterate that apology personally.

“I have been committed to having an open dialogue with the men and women who served Canada in uniform, but I realize that yesterday’s regrettable delay has brought that into question. Veterans across Canada should know that I remain deeply committed to meeting with them and listening to the issues that matter to them and their families, and to continue to do what’s right to support those who have stood up for Canada. Our country’s Veterans deserve no less.”




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Julian Fantino would prefer that you refrain from pointing at him

  1. Some big brave former police chief. Hiding in the basement from a group of elderly veterans. All bullies eventually show their stripes.

    • love it.

  2. The ironic and maybe revealing thing about that encounter is that Julian Fantino was pointing his finger at the veteran when he said that, so it came off like “I’m the one who points fingers around here.” And if you think about it, that’s what the Harper government does; it still functions like an Opposition, going around blaming other people for problems instead of taking responsibility.

  3. Mr. Fantino has shown no significant competence in any of the portfolios he has held. Surely we can find someone with sufficient abilities to lead such an important department as Veteran’s Affairs.

    • He’s the star candidate that wasn’t.

      • yup, and that crafty statement of his just made me throw up in my mouth a little. it’s always a fine day when an inveterate bully gets his comeuppance. beyond that, what a profoundly novice political blunder this has become. hubris has slayed many a dragon.

  4. Seeing this exchange with veterans immediately brought to mind a similar exchange involving Fantino when he was Chief of Toronto Police Services. In an open forum, ostensibly to repair police relations with segments of the so-called “black community” (a misleading term, but another story), Fantino rounded angrily and aggressively on a teenaged girl who expressed distrust of his officers. It was a disastrous performance on his part that actually further poisoned the force’s image.

    The man is reflexively brittle, defensive, arrogant, and utterly humorless, and should, under no circumstances, be exposed to those whom he purports to serve.

    • The last word in your post is the most important one: serve. I don’t know what he believes, or why, but you’re right, he doesn’t act like he is a servant, he acts like he is is a boss.

  5. fantino had to apologize because he knew full well he was at fault in that

    meeting which was set up and confirmed by his office to meet with those Veterans. When a Canadian war veteran tells Canadians not to vote for the

    Conservatives, Canadians get the message loud and clear. One can only hope that the Veterans will ensure that happens and it spills over to the rest of Canadians who are disgusted by what they are seeing and hearing.

  6. So ridiculous for Fantino to zoom in on the finger pointing instead of answering the question and dealing with the issue. Who does he think he is? His job is to serve. If he doesn’t want to serve, let him get out.

  7. I have been posted to bases like CFB Esquimalt and Garrison Edmonton, where
    the Veterans Affairs had two (2) offices set up in those cities, one in very
    expensive Downtown locations, and a detachment office on the nearby base.
    Military bases have huge expanses of infrastructure and office space available
    for housing Veteran Affairs Offices to save money. I thought it was great to
    have a small office on the base to go to speak about my Veterans Affairs
    benefits, change my address and contact info, etc. I actually wondered why they
    had the huge offices in the downtown core.

    Not some, but “ALL” of the Veteran Affairs Offices being closed on the
    list, have Military Bases and/or Reserve Armouries located in those cities. Some
    of these armouries are World War 1 or 2 era armouries built with huge
    infrastructure. They have all been modernized from the plumbing, firefighting
    systems, to electrical and internet wiring. I worked out of the Cartier Square
    Armoury in Ottawa, Mewata Armoury in Calgary, the ultra modern “Super Armouries”
    like Debney and Jefferson Armoury in Edmonton.

    The Union of Veterans Affairs Employees told CBC News it has been
    informed by the department that offices in these cities will be
    shut. In brackets is a nearby Base or Armoury in the city losing a VAC Office:

    Charlottetown (PEI Regiment)

    Corner Brook, N.L.(2nd Bn Royal Newfoundland Regiment)

    Sydney, N.S. (45 Engineer Squadron)

    Windsor, Ont. (Windsor Regiment)

    Thunder Bay, Ont. (Lake Superior Scottish Regiment)

    Kelowna, B.C. (British Columbia Dragoons)

    Saskatoon (Saskatoon Rifles)

    Brandon, Man. (CFB Shilo)

    The union said the offices would close on Feb. 28, 2014.

    I think that an alternate solution is possible. The Department of National
    Defence and Veteran Affairs talk amongst each other and their Infrastructure
    counterparts to come to a shared solution. Many of these Reserve Units only
    parade one (1) evening per week and one weekend per month. They also allow
    Cadets to parade in these building in the evening. Their is very much office
    space and/or room available in these very large armouries (with huge parking
    lots) to accommodate a Veterans Affairs Office or smaller Detachment, much like
    bases in Edmonton and Esquimalt (Victoria) currently have. In fact, when you
    drive to a downtown location to visit Veterans Affairs for an appointment, they
    reimburse you for the parking on a claim ($$). Parking on a military base is
    FREE!

  8. Hahaha, “This Hour has 22 Minutes” nailed it nice! Us Veterans have faced dangers from small arms fire, to artillery attacks, to IED’s, to potential Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare attacks. Hey Baby, I joined during the Cold War, the USSR was just on the other side of the wall, when we were in CFB Lahr and Baden, Germany, and Russia put Troops and HIND MI-24 Helicopter Squadrons on our continent, when El Salvador was being taken over by a Communist led Party. Canadian Forces Armour Defence Platoons (ADP) were being given quick training from U.S. Specialists on how to take out a “Flying Tank” if we had to engage MI-24′s. You are a former Police Officer and you feel threatened because a 77 year old World War 2 Veteran is pointing a “Finger” at you, so you run away? Wow, hope you don’t get Defence Minister Portfolio anytime soon Princess!

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