Quebec Premier Legault warns Liberal-NDP alliance will ‘run into a wall’ with provinces on spending

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference Feb. 8 at the Legislative Assembly in Quebec City.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec Premier François Legault warns that the new alliance between the federal Liberals and the NDP will trigger a confrontation with the provinces, particularly around health.

Legault’s comments to reporters on Wednesday were in reaction to the deal announced this week that would see the NDP back Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government until 2025.

In exchange for NDP support, the Liberals agreed to work with the party on several priorities, including a dental program for low-income Canadians and national pharmacare.

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But Legault says both of these potential programs fall under exclusive provincial jurisdiction, and he adds that the Liberals and NDP are “very centralizing” political parties.

He says the Liberal-NDP alliance “will hit a wall” if it tries to tell Quebec how to spend federal transfers on health, adding that Ontario Premier Doug Ford is d I agree with him that Ottawa should not try to interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction, such as health care.

The premier of Quebec warns federal leaders that they should expect a “very strong common front” from the provinces that would block any attempt to erode provincial powers.

“I’m sorry, but the federal government has no jurisdiction to say how much money we put into long-term care, how much we put into mental health,” Legault said.

Sonia LeBel, Quebec’s minister responsible for relations with Canada, told reporters that the federal government has an obligation to transfer money to the provinces for health care and that funding should not come with strings attached. She said that Quebec would not allow its powers to be eroded in exchange for money.

“Quebec is not for sale,” said LeBel.

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