Quebec national assembly adopts motion critical of federal budget
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 23, 2017 2:24PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 23, 2017 3:36PM EDT
QUEBEC -- The Quebec national assembly adopted a motion Thursday expressing the province's "great disappointment" with the federal budget.
It passed by a 95-0 margin, with two abstentions.
The motion to be sent to Ottawa highlights what is described as the absence of federal commitments in areas the province considers priorities.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau likened the initiative to a political "game" in which the federal government would inevitably emerge the loser.
"If I had said exactly how everything would be done, that we (the federal government) were going to do everything, they would have said, 'My God, it's not up to you to decide that, it's up to us,"' Trudeau said in Toronto.
"I understand the game being played."
The motion mentions specific areas the province wanted addressed in the budget: the extension of the Montreal subway system; the construction of an electric rail network in the city; softwood lumber; and compensation for Quebec cheese producers.
All the Liberal cabinet ministers and members of the legislature who were present voted in favour of the motion tabled by Nicolas Marceau of the Opposition Parti Quebecois.
Premier Philippe Couillard was absent, attending the inauguration of a pediatric centre northwest of Montreal.
The two members of the left-wing Quebec solidaire abstained from voting because they considered the motion too favourable to the notion of privatizing the public transport network.
In Ottawa, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said his relations with Quebec are "very good."
"What I can say is that we will continue with our program of working with the provinces, with Quebec," he said. "It's very important. We know that with our negotiations with the United States it's necessary to consider how we can improve the softwood situation. That is very important.
"There is nothing in the budget (on that) because the negotiations are ongoing.
"As for public transit, we explained yesterday (Wednesday) it is very important to have a way to work with the provinces to make sure the projects will be very good for the economy and for people all across the country."
Morneau said he hopes to be able to give Quebec a better idea of his positions on various subjects in six to eight months.