Quebec's Charest welcomes $2.3B from Ottawa
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, March 19, 2007 7:10PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 5:54PM EDT
Quebec Premier Jean Charest, embroiled in a tough provincial election fight, welcomed $2.3 billion in federal money for Quebec and tried to take some credit for it.
"This gives us a lot of satisfaction in the sense that we have fought for this for a number of years, and now the federal government has moved substantially on this issue," he said Monday after the federal Conservative government's budget was released. "And Quebecers should be proud of the leadership we've exercised within the federation to accomplish this."
However, Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair was scornful. "It's the last chance for Jean Charest to save his skin," he said.
Boisclair's federal counterpart, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, has said his party will support the budget while saying the true fiscal imbalance is $3.9 billion.
Action democratique du Quebec Leader Mario Dumont gave political credit to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"I am worried that Jean Charest won't be able to do better with this new breathing room,'' he said.
Quebecers go to the polls next Monday.
Two Quebec analysts say the federal budget should help prop up the Liberal leader, who is in a tough three-way provincial election fight with his rivals.
"Stephen Harper really has come through for Jean Charest today," Antonia Maioni, a McGill University political science professor, told CTV Newsnet's Mike Duffy Live on Monday.
"This is certainly a budget that won't hurt Mr. Charest," added political analyst John Parisella.
The 2007-08 federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will direct an additional $2.3 billion to Quebec.
Much of the $2.3 billion has been previously announced. That includes health transfers from the previous Liberal government, climate change funding and infrastructure funding, which Ottawa says counts towards reducing the fiscal imbalance.
Charest, a federalist and former federal Progressive Conservative leader, is in a tough three-way fight with the sovereigntist PQ and the right-leaning nationalist ADQ.
Many had been speculating there would be a "Quebec surprise" in the federal budget that could help propel Charest to victory.
On Sunday, Charest tried to dampen expectations, saying: "I don't expect everything to be solved in a single budget."
Now that the numbers are out, it's hard to measure what impact the budget will have on the Quebec vote.
"The problem that we have now is that it's really hard to make a prediction because the polls are so close," Parisella said.
Charest needs three or four good media days this week, he said, adding the PQ seems to be regaining some of its support among francophone voters.
"The Parti Quebecois is going to remind people they were the ones who coined the term 'fiscal imbalance' ... and that they are responsible for a lot of this largesse," Maioni said.
"But, as Gilles Duceppe has reminded us, 'it's not enough'," the PQ will argue, she said. The sovereigntists will then say Quebec needs sovereignty to truly resolve the imbalance.
With files from CTV Montreal and The Canadian Press