Minister Fantino sorry for behaviour at meeting with aggrieved veterans

OTTAWA – Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino extended an olive branch to aggrieved veterans angry about the impending closure of eight of the department’s regional offices.

It’s an attempt to stem the tide of political outrage among a core Conservative constituency.

Fantino, who arrived late for a meeting with seven ex-soldiers, says he’s sorry for the way it was handled and doesn’t want it to be seen as a reflection on his commitment to the men and women in uniform.

Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair joined the veterans in demanding Fantino step down — or be fired.

On his way to a caucus meeting, the NDP leader called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to issue a “sincere apology” to veterans who took part in a meeting with the minister Tuesday night.

The minister has rejected pleas to keep the offices open.