Summerside veteran was involved in confrontation with federal minister

Diane
Diane Crocker
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Paul Davis wants Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino to know that he doesn’t accept his apology for the way a meeting with the minister went Tuesday.  

Davis, 66, is part of a delegation of veterans from across the country that has been in Ottawa this week trying to prevent the closure of nine Veterans Affairs offices.

The group was supposed to meet with Fantino at 5 p.m. Tuesday, but the minister didn’t show. Instead, Fantino sent three of his parliamentary aides to meet the group.

Davis, who is from Summerside, said the group stayed as long as it could before moving on to another meeting.

“We were in a small room just ready to go out to meet the press and he walked in,” said Davis.

According to Davis, Fantino started talking about the closures and said he was going ahead with them.

“And we were hot enough that he didn’t turn up‚ (for our meeting), but what he was doing was he was breaking into our press conference.”

Davis said the veterans were mad and told Fantino what he was saying and doing was wrong.

“He was taking everything away from the veterans, what we fought for all these years ever since the First World War. In one sweep he was taking it all away from us.”

The exchange with the minister “got hot and heavy,” as Davis questioned him on some things. The roughly 10-minute meeting ended with Fantino walking out.

Davis said the experience was very upsetting for the group and some of the veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder broke down afterward.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Public Service Alliance of Canada issued a statement from Davis and delegation members Ron Clarke, Bruce Moncur and Roy Lamore. It said, “What the minister did yesterday was disgraceful. The only thing we want is a commitment to keep open the eight offices and reopen the Prince George office. Veterans have earned that respect.”

Fantino also issued his own statement apologizing for how the meeting was handled.

“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,” said the minister’s statement

However, Davis told The Western Star “we don’t accept his apology at all.”

Meanwhile, the incident has led to calls for Fantino to be fired.

Federal NDP Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer issued a news release saying, “Veterans and their families are legitimately concerned about the impact these office closures will have, but the best Minister Fantino can do is tell them not to point their fingers at him? That’s not good enough. Our veterans deserve better than to be brushed aside by the Conservatives.”

The Western Star

Organizations: Veterans Affairs, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Conservatives

Geographic location: Summerside, Ottawa, Canada Western Star Prince George

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Recent comments

  • James Brown
    January 30, 2014 - 13:41

    Having served both in the Canadian Military and RCMP I find the attitude of the Conservatives regarding veterans a complete let down. This is from pension claw backs to disengaging vets before they are allowed benefits. This government has even drawn from Veterans resources to use on other matter. This is not acceptable.

  • Stephen Baird
    January 30, 2014 - 11:32

    Fantino should schedule another meeting before any changes are made.

  • Anna
    January 30, 2014 - 11:14

    Another loser in the Harper tribe, I can't wait for these people to be shown the door in the next election. You don't think they can get any worse and then for one of them to be so ignorant to Veterans, how low can you go?

  • Geri
    January 30, 2014 - 10:32

    Absolutely disgraceful Mr. Fatino....where is your respect for these Veterans who risked their lives in order to keep us (including YOU and your relatives) free. What an insult, and how belittleing to those brave men and women who served our country in past war times...serving and fighting under deplorable conditions, never knowing if they would live to return to THEIR families. We owe these veterans MUCH more than a building where they can gather and support each other (plus they also do many good things for the community), that's the very LEAST we can continue to do for them. So Mr. Minister if you don't have enough balls to stand up for these brave, selfless souls, (many who are elderly and have lived with debilitating memories of what they saw for the remainder of their life)...please resign and let someone who will.

  • Artocrat
    January 30, 2014 - 09:34

    Fantino and Harper should take a vacation ...like this one.. How I Spent My Summer Vacation" by NL artist Bill Rose http://www.artocracy.ca/how-i-spent-my-summer-vacation/

  • Harold
    January 30, 2014 - 08:27

    I side with the veterans. "least we forget". come on people now is our time to fight for the people who fought for us, speak your mind, show you care. we have freedom today because of those who fought before us and for us.

  • New Veteran
    January 30, 2014 - 07:08

    So, the Minister is "committed to having an open dialogue with the men and women who served Canada in uniform." His approach as the Toronto Police Chief was the same, I speak and you listen. Notice the carefully crafted statement said the Minister "remains deeply committed to meeting with them and listening" which is hard to do when you are talking. He will continue to "do what’s right to support those who have stood up for Canada" because he thinks only the politicians have stood up for Canada and Federal tax dollars are for them. We had saying in the Canadian Armed Forces. "Nothing is too good for the men. Nothing is what they will get."