SAINT-EUSTACHE, Que. — The leader of the Parti Quebecois doubled down Wednesday on his claim Justin Trudeau's famous tweet welcoming the world's persecuted people into Canada is responsible for the influx of asylum seekers into Quebec.
Jean-Francois Lisee said Monday the federal government should pay for the costs of taking care of thousands of would-be refugees he claimed were "invited by (prime minister) Justin Trudeau."
Lisee reiterated the comments two days later despite criticism from within his own party.
"Anyone who came here to listen to platitudes came to the wrong place," Lisee told reporters during a caucus retreat north of Montreal.
"Me, I say it like it is; I am authentic and I say what I think."
Francois Gendron, the dean of the PQ caucus, said he didn't appreciate the remarks.
"I would have preferred those words not be used," said Gendron. "But on the subject of asylum seekers, I think it's a file that has been badly handled (by all levels of government) from A to Z."
Lisee said the thousands of asylum seekers — mostly Haitians — who have arrived in Quebec from the United States since June are "victims" of what he called the false hopes given to them by the federal government.
There are those who say we don't have the right to ask these questions but I am not one for political correctness.
He suggested Trudeau's tweet from last January is to blame and that Ottawa should therefore pay the bill.
One day after U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States, Trudeau took to Twitter.
"To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada," the prime minister wrote on Jan. 28.
Lisee said Quebecers are asking, "Where is the money going to come from?' And I say, 'it should come from who invited them."'
"I maintain that position, absolutely," Lisee said. "These are real questions. There are those who say we don't have the right to ask these questions but I am not one for political correctness."
Former interim PQ leader Louise Harel tweeted Tuesday she was "profoundly disappointed" by Lisee's choice of words.