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Conservative MP Fantino vulnerable in Vaughan: Trudeau

Liberal leader unprepared, untested, uninformed, Fantino fires back
June 19, 2015
By Adam Martin-Robbins

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau appears confident - despite lacking a star candidate in Vaughan - that his party has a good shot at unseating incumbent Conservative MP Julian Fantino, should he run in the fall election.

That’s because voters are fed up with the Conservative’s style of politics, Trudeau said.

“One of the things that I’ve seen across the country is people are tired of a government that functions on nastiness, on negativity, on talking points,” he said during a brief stop in Maple Thursday afternoon to meet with local senior citizens.

And then there is Fantino’s controversy-plagued tenure as Veterans Affairs minister, Trudeau added.

“What Minister Fantino did to veterans over the past years was unconscionable and I know that that’s going to be on people’s minds here in Vaughan, but also across the country, when they go to the ballot box this fall,” he said.

Fantino served as Veterans Affairs minister from July 2013 to January 2015.

During that time, he was at the centre of a couple of highly publicized incidents that left many veterans feeling slighted.

In January 2014, he showed up late to a meeting with a group of veterans upset about the government’s decision to shutter several local offices that provided services to vets. Fantino got into a heated exchange with at least one of the veterans.

He was also heavily criticized when his department spent $4 million on an advertising campaign aimed at correcting “misinformation” about the government’s treatment of former soldiers.

Then, in May 2014, Fantino was filmed seemingly ignoring and walking away from the wife of a veteran as she repeatedly shouted questions at him about the government’s funding decisions.

Fantino’s office later said he didn’t realize the woman was there amidst the horde of reporters shouting questions at him.

Less than a year later, Fantino was moved from Veterans Affairs to the ministry of defence, where he now serves as an associate minister.

Fantino, who has not yet been officially nominated as the local Conservative candidate for the Oct. 19 federal election, came out swinging in response to Trudeau’s comments.

"I am glad Justin Trudeau came to Vaughan,” he wrote in an email to the Vaughan Citizen. “It gave local residents a chance to see what I see in Ottawa every day - an unprepared, untested, and uninformed Liberal politician whose top priorities include raising taxes on Vaughan families and making it easier for kids to do drugs. Our Conservative government has a record that Vaughan residents can trust, lower taxes for families, safer streets and increased support for seniors. I'm proud of that record and I'm going to keep fighting for Vaughan.”

The Liberals have chosen rookie candidate Francesco Sorbara to carry the party’s banner in the new riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge.

The 43-year-old father of two, a “distant relative” of former Vaughan Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara, works as a corporate bond research analyst.

Trudeau expressed his confidence in Sorbara during his swing through Vaughan.

“What we have is a wide range of Canadians across the country stepping up to form a great team at a time when people are very cynical about politics," Trudeau said. "And I’m proud of the incredible team we have, including Mr.

Sorbara, who is going to be an extraordinary member of Parliament. And I’m proud to have him."