TORONTO - Ontario and Quebec are putting Ottawa on notice that they won't stand idly by if the federal government tries to lower its ballooning deficit on the provinces' backs - regardless of what political party is in charge after a possible fall election.
Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty says he wants a firm commitment from all four parties that they won't cut transfer payments to the provinces if they are elected.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest is going even further, saying he expects any federal government to respect current agreements, and warned he won't accept freezes even if there are no cuts to the payments.
Their comments come after Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Canada's deficit would be longer and deeper than previously thought and warned of painful spending restraints.
Neither premier would speculate about the likelihood of a fall election, but McGuinty says now was not the time.
Taxpayers in both Quebec and Ontario, he says, wants their provinces to focus on their roads, schools and jobs.