Quebec premier threatens referendum on immigration powers, calls out Trudeau

Click to play video: 'More fallout after Legault threatens immigration referendum'
More fallout after Legault threatens immigration referendum
WATCH: There is more political fallout in the immigration battle between Quebec and Ottawa. Opposition parties in Quebec City are accusing Premier François Legault of being all talk and no action. This comes one day after Legault threatened to hold a referendum on immigration if the federal government doesn't meet Quebec's demands by the end of June. Global's Franca Mignacca reports – Apr 10, 2024

Quebec Premier François Legault is calling on Ottawa to act, saying he hasn’t ruled out holding a referendum on immigration powers and accusing the federal government of meddling in the province’s affairs.

Speaking from the provincial legislature on Tuesday, Legault urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “listen to Quebecers” when it comes to concerns over immigration levels.

Legault’s comments come as the federal budget for 2024 will be unveiled next week and amid what the premier described as a “fireworks display of announcements from Mr. Trudeau in areas of Quebec’s jurisdiction.”

“What I say is that I don’t exclude that. I say it’s not in our plan short term,” Legault said when asked if he would hold a referendum on the issue of immigration powers.

“But what I want to tell Mr. Trudeau is that the majority of Quebecers they think that 560,000 temporary immigrants is too much.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Premier Legault threatens a referendum on immigration'
Premier Legault threatens a referendum on immigration

Legault argued the number of temporary new arrivals has “exploded” under the federal government’s watch, putting pressure on Quebec’s health and education systems.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“We don’t have enough teachers, we don’t have enough housing. So we really need to have some results,” Legault told reporters. “Mr. Trudeau finally said ‘Yes it was too much,’ it’s the first time he’s saying that so we expect in the next meeting that he promised me for no later than June 30th that he would come with results.”

Legault added the Canadian government has two options: to either reduce the number of immigrants coming into the province or to cede more immigration powers to Quebec.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau rejects Quebec’s ask for total powers on immigration'
Trudeau rejects Quebec’s ask for total powers on immigration

It’s the latest in longstanding tensions between Legault and the federal government over immigration targets and the arrival of asylum seekers in Quebec. In early March, the province stood firm on its cap amid Ottawa’s decision to process about 20,500 permanent residence requests in the family reunification program pending in Quebec.

Story continues below advertisement

Quebec has asked for more power over the control of new arrivals in the province, with Legault facing renewed pressure from the opposition Parti Québécois on the matter.

Legault recently called on the federal government to transfer all powers on immigration to Quebec, but was shot down by Trudeau last month. When Trudeau was asked whether that’s something he would be open to, he responded in French with a clear “No.”

At the time, Trudeau said Quebec already has more powers over immigration than any other province to protect the French language and that it’s not a question of jurisdiction but finding solutions by working together.

On Tuesday, Legault said that Quebecers are welcoming to new arrivals, but that the province has exceeded its capacity and “can’t do it any more.”

“I have a message for Mr. Trudeau: Instead of making announcements in Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction, well, take care of your own responsibilities, particularly immigration,” he said.

— with files from Global News’ Touria Izri, Annabelle Olivier and The Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'Battle between Quebec and Ottawa heats up over immigration targets'
Battle between Quebec and Ottawa heats up over immigration targets

Sponsored content