Quebec’s François Legault speaks to Trudeau, Macron about immigration and religious symbols

Click to play video: 'Legault seeks to strengthen ties'
Legault seeks to strengthen ties
WATCH: Ahead of his official swearing-in next week, Premier-designate Francois Legault spent the week talking trade and immigration at the summit of the Francophonie. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, Legault spent a lot of time clarifying his position on immigration – Oct 12, 2018

Premier-designate François Legault will be sworn in as premier next week, but he’s already made his first international trip, accompanying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Summit of the Francophonie in Armenia.

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Legault said Quebec should be strengthening its economic relationship with France.

The premier-designate called it “an enormous potential” and an opportunity to decrease our dependence on the U.S.  While 70 per cent of Quebec exports go to the United States, only 14 per cent go to all of Europe, he said.

Legault is hopeful that discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron at this year’s summit of French-speaking nations will foster more partnerships. The two leaders will talk more when Legault makes a state visit in early 2019.

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READ MORE: François Legault doubles down on religious symbol ban after meeting with Justin Trudeau

Legault said the two men definitely hit it off — that is, after he clarified some things.

First, Legault said he told Macron that he rejects any association with the anti-immigration French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, who congratulated Legault on his victory via Twitter.

He said he put his proposal to reduce immigrants to Quebec in perspective.

“I repeated to him that if we compare immigration, taking into consideration the size of our state, at 40,000, we’ll accept more immigrants than France,” Legault explained.

Of course, this plan hinges on cooperation with the federal government.

“We are very open,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “(But) it’s a little early to explain plans that aren’t concrete yet.”

READ MORE: Legault stands firm on immigration, secularism in outline of CAQ priorities

However, Trudeau said he is completely against banning employees in authority positions — and teachers — from wearing religious signs.

“I don’t think it’s the role of the state to ban the wearing of anything in a free society,” he said.

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“We disagree on this,” Legault said in response. “But we won a strong majority and we had strong support in the election.”

Legault added that the plan doesn’t go as far as to outlaw religious signs in public places, so he thinks it will pass the test of the courts.

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