Advance View: Fantino not up to snuff

Why is Julian Fantino a minister of anything?

Fantino, currently under fire for his handling of Veterans Affairs, started as a controversy-courting cop in Ontario, heading up the Toronto police and then the OPP.

In 2010 he jumped to federal politics – a natural Conservative, as he was one of the few police chiefs in the country to criticize the Long Gun Registry.

Since then he’s held relatively minor cabinet posts, but he hasn’t exactly distinguished himself. He was an associate minister of defence when no one, not even actual minister of defence Peter McKay could answer questions about fighter jet procurement. He was Minister for International Cooperation when he forgot the difference between politics and government and posted anti-NDP screeds on the website for the Canadian International Development Agency.

To be fair to Fantino, problems with serving Canada’s veterans cropped up long before he took over as minister in the summer of 2013. 

But he certainly hasn’t done much to clear things up. Fantino has been in place for over a year, and yet this summer saw veterans gather to protest in Ottawa. We’ve also seen him bungle interactions with vets seeking a meeting on the closure of Veterans Affairs offices. He later claimed the vets were pawns of large unions, an utterly bizarre idea.

Most recently, he’s fumbled the $200 million pledged for veterans programs. After the big announcement, it emerged that the money is to be doled out over up to 50 years, but Fantino was caught flat-footed by questions on the money issues in Parliament. To rub salt in the wound, it was also revealed that overseas war graves were behind on upkeep. Neither living nor dead veterans were being served.

Fantino is either bungling the programs of his office, or he simply doesn’t understand them. He’s alienated his ministerial constituency of former soldiers. 

The opposition has been calling for his resignation, and it’s hard to see why he shouldn’t turn it in.

– M.C.

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