11/21/2011 06:35 EST | Updated 01/21/2012 05:12 EST

Bill C-10: Federal Crime Bill Awaits Last-Chance Amendments From Quebec

QUEBEC - Quebec has one more opportunity to make a plea for compromise in the sprawling federal crime bill.

Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has agreed to meet Tuesday with provincial counterpart Jean-Marc Fournier, who has been repeatedly asking for Ottawa to soften elements of its omnibus Bill C-10.

A spokesman for Fournier says the meeting is a sign of openness on the part of the federal government and Fournier is approaching it in good faith.

The feds have resisted Fournier's recent entreaties, and the legislation is on the verge of being fast-tracked through the House of Commons.

Fournier recently told parliamentary hearings that Quebec would not pick up the tab for any additional prison expenses incurred by passage of bill, a position echoed by several other provinces.

Among its many measures, the bill would toughen sentences for a number of crimes, including drug and sex offences.

It would also absolve the government and law enforcement of some responsibilities when dealing with young offenders and Canadians jailed abroad.

Fournier has proposed amendments to the bill which would bring it into line with Quebec's preferred approach to young offenders, which has emphasized rehabilitation.

One thing Quebec wants is an opt-out clause that would allow provinces to ignore a section that could make young offenders' identity public.

It also wants more emphasis on long-term protection of the public rather than short-term punitive measures.

Robert Goguen, Nicholson's parliamentary secretary, says there's nothing in the proposed law that prevents Quebec from continuing its current practices regarding young offenders.