01/12/2018 11:05 EST | Updated 01/12/2018 12:11 EST

Ex-Governor General Michaelle Jean Slams Reported 'Shithole' Comment As 'Disturbing'

The former governor general was born in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michaelle Jean, secretary-general of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, speaks during the 2017 UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference in Vancouver on Nov. 14, 2017.

Former governor general Michaelle Jean criticized U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday for reportedly using vulgar language to describe Haiti and countries in Africa.

Jean, who was born in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, called Trump's reported remarks "insulting.''

"It was so disturbing this morning to hear President Trump's comments reported all over the news calling my poor native land and African countries 'shithole' nations,'' Jean said in the statement to The Canadian Press. "It is such an insult before humanity.''

Trump was widely reported on Thursday to have questioned in a meeting with lawmakers why the United States would accept more immigrants from Haiti and ``shithole countries'' in Africa rather than from places such as Norway.

Trump tweeted Friday morning that he used "tough'' language at the meeting, but not the reported vulgarity.

Still, Jean, 60, who was Canada's governor general from 2005 to 2010, made no bones about her feelings.

"For the first representative of the United States of America to speak in such a manner is quite troubling and offensive,'' Jean said in the statement.

Jean, a refugee from Haiti who came to Canada in 1968 and was raised in Thetford Mines, Que., also noted that Friday was the eighth anniversary of a devastating earthquake that struck her native country. She is currently secretary general of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and co-president of a non-profit foundation.

Trump's purported comments have sparked widespread outrage, both in the U.S. and abroad, although some have defended his comments as straight talk.

Former Canadian prime minister Kim Campbell was among those denouncing the president's "abominable and ignorant'' views and statements.

"(I) have known many fine Haitians — including a former governor general of Canada,'' Campbell said in a tweet. "Trump is unworthy to speak of them!''

The African Union said it was "frankly alarmed'' by Trump's comments.

"Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,'' union spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.

Botswana's government called Trump's comment "reprehensible and racist,'' while Senegal's President Macky Sall said he was shocked.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress said the comments were "extremely offensive,'' while opposition leader Mmusi Maimane said the "hatred of Obama's roots now extends to an entire continent.''

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