Montreal

Quebec TV personality out of a job after saying he'd like to 'hunt separatists'

Political analyst Luc Lavoie has been pulled from the airwaves, his employer says, while police look into a comment he made during an on-air discussion about the legality of hunting squirrels in Quebec.

Provincial police are looking into comments made by political analyst Luc Lavoie

Luc Lavoie was participating in a televised panel on La joute, a political analysis show on French-language network LCN, when he made a comment about separatists that has temporarily cost him his job. (Facebook)

A Quebec television personality has been temporarily relieved of his duties after saying on air that he would like to "hunt separatists."

While participating in a televised panel discussion, political analyst Luc Lavoie was giving his take on the debate surrounding squirrel hunting in the province.

It is currently illegal, but the Coalition Avenir Québec tabled a petition Tuesday to have the ban removed.

Lavoie referred to the ease with which some Americans can obtain guns, and said Quebecers could do the same to shoot squirrels. Then, he made the comment that has cost him his job, for the time being.

"Actually, I would have liked to hunt separatists, but it seems like that's not possible," he said.

Host Paul Larocque told him, straight-faced, not to make jokes like that. Lavoie, who served as a spokesperson for Brian Mulroney during and after his tenure as prime minister and is a former vice-president of Quebecor, cracked up.

Lavoie posted an apology on his Facebook page later Tuesday night, calling his comments stupid and offensive.

The management at TVA Nouvelles/LCN, where Lavoie worked, issued a statement Wednesday saying his comment was "unacceptable."

Hours later, they issued another statement saying a complaint has been made to the Sûreté du Québec, and that Lavoie would be "pulled from the airwaves" during the investigation.

However, SQ Sgt. Stéphane Tremblay would not say whether Lavoie is formally under investigation.

He confirmed that since last night, "many people" have called to complain about his comment and that investigators are in the process of analyzing whether a crime was committed.

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée condemned Lavoie's comments, arguing that if he had said the same things about Jewish, Muslim, or black people, he would have been fired.

Duelling squirrel-hunting petitions tabled

Earlier on Tuesday, Quebec politicians presented duelling petitions at the National Assembly on squirrel hunting.

Mathieu Lemay, the wildlife critic for the Coalition Avenir Québec, tabled two separate petitions calling for the ban to be reversed Tuesday.

The argument — if there are rules in place that allow hare and rabbit hunting, squirrels should be included too.

Combined, the pro-squirrel-hunting petitions garnered 1,571 signatures.

Parti Québécois MNA Sylvain Roy, the wildlife critic for his party, had two petitions of his own to present, both asking that the ban be kept in place.

They make the case that squirrels have enough natural predators, and they don't need more. Those petitions had 1,720 signatures.

It's unclear if the MNAs personally support the petitions they tabled.

A spokesperson for Wildlife Minister Luc Blanchette said the ministry will look into the request to allow the practice, but it's not a simple decision to make.

Squirrel hunting is legal in five provinces: OntarioBritish ColumbiaManitobaNova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

With files from Radio-Canada's Mathieu Dion