Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty warned the Harper government that provinces across the country will not pick up the tab for any new costs associated with the federal omnibus anti-crime bill that is expected to be passed into law.
The premier first spoke of his reluctance at paying for those costs Tuesday in Ottawa, the same day Quebec's justice minister said his province would not foot the bill for any new costs.
'It's easy to sit on high in Ottawa and pass laws.' — Dalton McGuinty, Ontario premier
McGuinty on Wednesday appeared to harden his stance on the issue, and suggested the federal government would run into opposition from all provincial governments.
"What we're saying at this point is that crime continues to come down in Ontario and I'd be surprised if any premier of any of the provinces and territories is prepared to welcome new expenditures being foisted upon us by the federal government because they've got some plans with respect to criminal law," McGuinty said.
He said the Ontario government is focused on issues like health care, education and transit.
"It's easy to sit on high in Ottawa and pass laws, but if there are accompanying costs, we're not prepared to accept those here in Ontario. I don’t think premiers across the country are prepared to accept those," he said.
"I think there's a corresponding responsibility on the part of the federal government to say if there are new costs, they are going to pick up the tab."
The omnibus bill combines nine pieces of legislation that were not passed in previous sessions of Parliament and it makes major changes to several laws, including those that apply to young offenders, and creates new offences in the Criminal Code.
It proposes mandatory minimum sentences for a number of new offences, which will mean more convicted criminals in jail and many concerns have been raised about the costs of higher prison populations.
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on Tuesday stood by the bill as it stands. He said the provinces receive transfer payments from the federal government to administer their justice systems and that rehabilitation falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces.