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Quebec premier outraged at federal budget, calls Ottawa a 'real predator'

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QUEBEC - An angry Pauline Marois accused Ottawa on Wednesday of acting like a "real predator" with its budget.

"I am outraged," the Quebec premier said. "They are impossibly stubborn and they are making Quebecers pay."

Marois was particularly incensed with Ottawa's insistence it will enforce the Canada Job Grant in just six weeks — with or without the co-operation of all provinces and territories.

The premier accused the Harper government of imposing a decision and not wanting to negotiate.

She noted the Conservatives want to spend money — "even though they don't have a system to manage it all."

Marois cast aspersions on the good faith of Denis Lebel, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Quebec lieutenant, who has said he wants to have discussions with the provinces.

She said Lebel, far from wanting to negotiate, is seeking to impose a federal vision on the province.

The Quebec premier also denounced a federal research fund that she complained allows for an overlapping by Ottawa in higher education, a provincial jurisdiction.

She said that instead of doubling up responsibilities, it would be more useful if Ottawa sent a cheque to the provinces.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty responded immediately to Marois on the Canada Job Grant, saying no province has any business telling the federal government how to spend federal tax money.

"The money that is being put into job creation, job training in Canada, is not provincial tax money," he said in Ottawa. "It is federal tax money.

"If it's federal money, then the federal government can spend it the way the federal government and its elected people choose to spend it. It's not an ultimatum to anybody."

Flaherty added that the provinces have their own taxation powers and can raise their own taxes.

"This is not a confrontation," he said. "This is a choice."

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