According to a report in the Vancouver Observer yesterday, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino may soon be making a move to municipal politics.
Speculation is that the former Chief of the Toronto Police Service and former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police could be considering a run at being mayor of Vaughan, Ontario, the city immediately north of Toronto.
Apparently, this speculation was prompted by robocalls that were received on May 15 by residents of the region asking whether they would vote for Fantino, or the incumbent Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. Interestingly, Bevilacqua had previously held the federal riding of Vaughan as a Liberal MP before resigning to run for mayor.
Although Fantino did not respond to media requests, Nicholas Bergamini, his press secretary said:
I don't know where you got it from. I don’t really care, and it is completely off base—don’t waste your time. This is categorically false. Minister Fantino has every intention to remain as the Member of Parliament for Vaughan, and in his role as the Minister of Veterans Affairs.”
This report has credence. I believe it means Fantino is, at least, testing the waters regarding a challenge to Bevilacqua, Vaughan’s current mayor.
Julian Fantino has not distinguished himself during his time in Ottawa. As an example, in February he was criticized as Veterans Affairs minister—and calls for his resignation were heard—because he showed up over an hour late for a meeting with veterans in Ottawa. That gaffe resulted in a career-limiting press conference during which the minister was lambasted by the veterans he had slighted.
I lost all respect for this minister during his term as head of the OPP and, especially, of his handling of the Caledonia land dispute back in the mid-2000s—an affair I saw as a black-eye for policing in Ontario. Moreover, he seems to be, at best, a mediocre minister of the crown. Should he run for mayor of Vaughan, I doubt he’ll be missed by many in Ottawa.
Read the full Vancouver Observer report here and judge for yourselves.