This is not his first controversial remark.
Quebec's immigration minister has backtracked on comments that a majority of immigrants in the province have a poor work ethic and aren't well-integrated into society. At a debate in Mauricie last week, Jean Boulet asserted, "80% of immigrants go to Montreal, do not work, do not speak French or do not adhere to the values of Quebec society." He apologized on Wednesday, following widespread backlash, saying he misrepresented what he actually thinks about immigrants.
"I'm sorry for expressing my thoughts poorly. The circulating clip does not reflect what I think. We must continue to focus on the reception, francization and integration of immigrants, who are an asset to Quebec," Boulet tweeted.
Statistics Canada reports that over 80% of immigrants to the province can speak conversational French, and over 66% use the language more than English in daily interactions.
\u201cJe suis d\u00e9sol\u00e9 d\u2019avoir mal exprim\u00e9 ma pens\u00e9e. L\u2019extrait diffus\u00e9 ne refl\u00e8te pas ce que je pense. Il faut continuer de miser sur l\u2019accueil, la francisation et l\u2019int\u00e9gration des immigrants, qui sont une richesse pour le Qu\u00e9bec.\u201d— Jean Boulet (@Jean Boulet) 1664373274
Quebec Liberal politicians were swift to denounce Boulet's rhetoric.
"What have you been doing since 2018? You are the outgoing immigration minister, your government has even implemented a values test. Tell us about your regionalization record instead of spreading your prejudices," posted Monsef Derraji, a representative for the Nelligan electoral district in Montreal.
\u201cLes fondements de l'id\u00e9ologie caquiste en lien avec l\u2019immigration en 10 secondes:\nLe m\u00eame modus operandi caquiste s\u2019op\u00e9rera: @JeanBoulet10 va s\u2019excuser, apr\u00e8s @francoislegault .\n\nNous sommes tann\u00e9s des pr\u00e9jug\u00e9s et les qu\u00e9b\u00e9cois ne m\u00e9ritent pas ce genre de leader. \n#qc2022 #polqc\u201d— Monsef Derraji (@Monsef Derraji) 1664373960
Meanwhile, Mayor Valerie Plante called on Boulet to take back his remarks. "Montreal is a welcoming place for immigrants, who contribute to the economic, social and cultural vitality and to the dynamism of French," she tweeted.
\u201cMonsieur Boulet devait retirer ses propos, qui vont \u00e0 l\u2019encontre de tous nos efforts pour int\u00e9grer les nouveaux arrivants.\n\nMontr\u00e9al est une terre d\u2019accueil pour les immigrants, qui contribuent \u00e0 la vitalit\u00e9 \u00e9conomique, sociale et culturelle et au dynamisme du fran\u00e7ais.\n\n#polqc\u201d— Val\u00e9rie Plante (@Val\u00e9rie Plante) 1664380411
Boulet came under similar fire last December after calling for the closure of Roxham Road, which he claimed had become a "sieve" for asylum seekers who were putting Quebecers at risk for COVID-19. He later admitted, "I don't have statistics that these people caused outbreaks."
Premier François Legault announced on Wednesday that, if re-elected, he would replace Boulet as Immigration Minister.