François Legault in hot seat over immigration misstep

Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault came under fire Sunday over an answer he gave to a Radio-Canada journalist the day before about how long it takes for a new immigrant to become a Canadian citizen.

CAQ leader slammed by opponents for not knowing how long it takes to become a Canadian citizen

Coalition Avenir Québec's François Legault made the comment in answer to a question from a journalist on Saturday. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault came under fire Sunday over an answer he gave to a Radio-Canada journalist the day before about how long it takes for a new immigrant to become a Canadian citizen.

Legault answered "a few months," and was corrected — it actually takes at least three years.

Reducing the number of immigrants Quebec accepts annually is one of the main policies in the CAQ election platform, and other party leaders were quick to criticize his response.

On Sunday, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard took his shot, saying that "Legault wants to have a test for expulsion but fails the test of understanding, of knowledge."

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée said Legault had lost credibility.

"He doesn't know the basics of his own program," the PQ leader said. "He can't be premier."

Legault is proposing that Quebec reduce the present level of immigrants allowed into Quebec each year from 50,000 to 40,000.

Testing for French and Quebec values

The CAQ is also proposing compulsory courses in French and a mandatory Quebec values test for newcomers within three years after their arrival.

Quebec has some powers over immigration, and can grant a "certificate of selection" to newcomers, as a first step toward Canadian citizenship.

Legault is proposing that those who fail the French and Quebec values tests would not be granted a Quebec certificate of selection, blocking them from seeking Canadian citizenship.

On Sunday, the CAQ leader said he had read up on the subject.