Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader François Legault has no intention of making Quebec grow to "10, 20, 30 million" inhabitants.

Speaking at a press conference Monday in La Pêche, in the Gatineau riding, he said there are advantages to staying small.

The night before, during a special broadcast on Radio-Canada, Legault had brushed aside questions about the demographic weight of Quebec in Canada, which could decrease in the coming years.

The CAQ proposes reducing Quebec's annual threshold of 50,000 immigrants. 

The Parti Québécois would reduce the threshold to 35,000, while the Quebec Liberal Party would maintain it at 70,000 and Quebec solidaire (QS) would increase it to 80,000.

Questioned about the issue again on Monday, Legault said Quebec should stay small.

"Take the Scandinavian countries: small countries, extremely rich, dynamic," he said.

"Being big, it can indeed be beautiful, but what is important is to have a quality of life for the people who live in Quebec," he added. "It's not a goal in itself to get to 10, 20, 30 million people in Quebec. We're 8.6 million people. I think that's a size that allows us to offer quality services."

The CAQ leader believes that Canada's desire to welcome more immigrants "is really going to the extreme" and invites "integration challenges" throughout the country.

Quebec must be particularly vigilant and "limit" the number of immigrants it receives in order to protect the French language, he said.

"I heard last night Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois [of Québec solidaire] say that he wanted to go up to 80,000. Well, I would have a question for him: how will he stop the decline of French?"

In response to businesses asking him to increase immigration to combat the labour shortage, Legault said he will rely on the requalification of the workforce already present in Quebec.


The CAQ also pledged Monday to give cellular network access to all Quebec regions.

A CAQ government would create a $3 billion fund to expand the cellular network, converting much of it to 5G technology as early as 2030 and providing access to fibre optics for all.

The party said there are still too many areas without access to a reliable network, compromising the safety of citizens on many roads and in many villages.

Earlier this week, Radio-Canada reported that several citizens of Saint-Elzéar, in Gaspésie, did not receive the alert from the Sûreté du Québec that an armed suspect was lurking in the vicinity due to lack of network access.

This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Sept. 5, 2022.