Quebec Education Minister Yves Bolduc told CBC Daybreak on Thursday that he never considered resigning after making — and then backtracking on — controversial comments about schools having enough library books.
Last week, Bolduc told French-language newspaper Le Devoir that children wouldn't die or stop reading if school libraries didn't buy more books this year.
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This week, he apologized for those comments and reinstated school boards' library budgets.
However, overall budget cuts were not reversed, leading Bolduc to tell CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty that now schools will be required to spend as much on books as last year, but will be faced with making a decision about where else to make cuts.
On Wednesday, CBC News reported that Quebec's education ministry said it never specifically asked schools to cut their school library budgets, and it won't be reversing previously announced cuts to school board budgets.
“We have a choice in Quebec. If we decide to have a good future, we have to make sure our public finances are fine, and we have two years to do it," Bolduc said Thursday.
The Lester B. Pearson School Board’s new budget includes a 37 per cent cut to libraries.
“I think what [Bolduc is] going to do is ask us to find money in our already very thin administrative budgets and that just may not be possible," said Lester B. Pearson chairwoman Suanne Stein Day on Wednesday.
The English Montreal School Board is facing an $3.8 million in cuts for the upcoming year.
Chair Angela Mancini said it's a challenge to find places to trim.
“Our administrative costs are some of the lowest in the province, especially within the English boards, so I don’t know where else you can cut," Mancini said.
Bolduc never considered resigning
Bolduc said he realized he had to apologize after reading the news over the weekend.
“On the weekend I read the articles and I saw that people thought I didn’t like books, which is not true," he said.
"I apologized because I love books."
When asked by CBC senior political analyst Bernard St-Laurent whether he considered resigning after a summer marred by two controversies — the first over his accepting government bonuses for taking on patients between ministerial stints — he said he never did.
He said he knew politics would be hard and that it's a matter of waiting out the storm.
"The lesson is that we have to work more and we have to [be careful]," Bolduc said.