Quebec's Landry offended by $1.5 billion handout

The soon-to-be premier of Quebec doesn't like the fact Ottawa is going to give his province an extra $1.5 billion in equalization payments.

Bernard Landry, who will be installed as the leader of the Parti Qubcois this weekend, said treating Quebec as a have-not province makes no sense and that Ottawa has been short-changing the province for decades.

"Receiving equalization payments for more than 40 years in a row is clear evidence that the central government failed in redistributing real wealth," Landry said.

Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin announced he would hand out an extra $1.8 billion just a day after he told the Atlantic premiers he wouldn't increase the equalization payments.

The payments are given to the poorer provinces so they can provide comparable public services to those available in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia without having to raise their taxes.

Quebec is getting the lion's share of the bonus, because its economy grew at a slower rate than those of the other six provinces that qualify for the payments.

The PQ and Bloc Qubcois say Ottawa doesn't spend enough in Quebec on research and industry.

But Martin says the province's problems are of its own making or at least the separatists there.

"There's no doubt provincial governments that pursue political agendas as opposed to economic agendas certainly don't have the same beneficial results for their population," he said.

But Landry promises to put sovereignty back on the agenda when he takes over this weekend.

He says it's degrading to be treated as if the province needs handouts. Rather than being a poor province, Landry says Quebec will soon be a rich country.