MONTREAL - The Quebec government accused the feds of showing "contempt" for Quebecers by allegedly not inviting the provincial government to a major funding announcement in Quebec City.
On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced more than $100 million in federal funding for the reconstruction of a fire-ravaged historic armoury in Quebec City. Built in 1887, the Grande Allee Armoury was home to Quebec's oldest military regiment, the Voltigeurs, which still exists today.
However, the news was pre-empted by criticism from the Quebec minister for the provincial capital, Agnes Maltais, who said that the federal government should be embarrassed for not consulting or inviting her government.
"It's a bit contemptuous of the people of Quebec," she said on Thursday, a day before Harper was scheduled to announce the history armoury would be rebuilt with federal cash. "I think that (Ottawa) could have shown the minimum of politeness by consulting with us."
The Prime Minister's Office told QMI Agency that Maltais was formally invited to the announcement on Friday morning -- a day after she criticized Harper publicly. Maltais couldn't make the announcement due to a scheduling conflict, the PMO said.
No one other representative from the Quebec government was invited.
Friday's announcement was "100% federal," the PMO said, and added that it told the Quebec government of the event a few days ago.
Harper said Friday that Ottawa will spend a total of $104 million to reconstruct the armoury, a National Historic Site since 1986. The Voltigeurs were formed to fight alongside the British and against the Americans in the War of 1812. The Voltigeurs were not part of the British military, and were funded by the province of Lower Canada, which reinforced the professional soldiers' Canadian identity.
The armoury was heavily damaged by fire in 2008.
Harper announced Friday that the reconstruction will preserve the building's facade. The restored building will include governmental offices, a multi-purpose room with a 1,300-person capacity, as well as a museum which will commemorate the Voltigeurs regiment. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.