Quebec won't pay for omnibus crime bill: Fournier

Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier talks to members of the media in Ottawa on November 1,...

Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier talks to members of the media in Ottawa on November 1, 2011. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 1:10 PM ET

OTTAWA — Quebec won't spend a penny on the federal government's tough-on-crime omnibus bill, provincial Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier told MPs on Tuesday.

In combative testimony before the Commons justice committee, Fournier warned the province would have to bear the brunt of extra costs for justice, prosecution and the incarceration of criminals — a price tag he estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

Quebec, he argued, doesn't have the means to pay for it.

"This bill does not offer the financial support for these changes," he said. "Quebec refuses to absorb these costs."

Tory MP Robert Goguen questioned Fournier about a recent poll published in a Montreal newspaper that indicated 77% of Quebecers think criminals in the province aren't sufficiently punished, but Fournier said he doesn't govern based on public opinion.

"We have the obligation to act properly to protect the public," he said, arguing certain policies contained in Bill C-10, which wraps nine law-and-order bills into one, won't do anything to reduce crime.

"It is a short-term solution, bringing people back in front of the courts again and again," he said.

The Quebec National Assembly has raised concerns that provisions in the bill go against the province's interests and has called on the government to withdraw it.

But Fournier found himself at odds with two other witnesses who appeared beside him at committee — the president of the Canadian Police Association and the deputy chief constable of the Vancouver police department — both of whom support the legislation.

"These changes will go a long way to ensuring those criminals that our police caught as a result of our investigations face appropriate punishment for their crimes," said police association president Tom Stamatakis.


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