Quebec’s Finance Minister Calls Flaherty’s Budget a ‘Veiled Threat’

Quebec’s Finance Minister, Nicolas Marceau, spoke critically against the federal budget presented by Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, on Tuesday and labeled it as “predatory federalism.” However, upon inquiry from a reporter if Marceau was asked by Premier Pauline Marois to speed up his budget preparations, Marceau’s press secretary hustled the reporter away from the news conference. Premier Pauline has previously said that her government does need to present a budget before calling an election.

According to anonymous sources cited by Radio-Canada, it has alleged that the PQ government is preparing to present its budget on Feb. 20, which will consequently set the stage for a March 31 Quebec election. While leaving the conference venue after having had asked that question, Mr. Marceau only mentioned that “I’m working on my budget.” It can be anticipated that Marceau expected Flaherty to relent on Ottawa’s plan for a new skills training program since it was opposed by all the provinces. Marceau intended to make Quebec opt out and instead use the federal funds for its own training programs.

Therefore, the Quebec minister openly stated that he feels that Mr. Flaherty has made a “veiled threat” to unilaterally impose the program on the provinces. It is suspected that Ottawa will make the same approach to the renewal of federal infrastructure transfers to the province, which end March 31. Commenting on that, Mr. Marceau mentioned that “we have not been consulted on the renewal.”

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