WATCH: Martin Coiteux apologizes for National Assembly language misstep
Public security minister Martin Coiteux apologized for not responding to an English question in English at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
During question period, Quebec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir asked Coiteux a question in English about political financing in the Liberal party.
Coiteux answered the question in French, and before he did, he said — in French — "I am going to stick to tradition in this Assembly and I will answer in French."
That immediately raised the hackles of the Quebec Community Groups Network, the anglophone lobby group which, for one thing, took issue with the notion of "tradition" raised by Coiteux as his justification.
On the Leslie Roberts show Wednesday morning QCGN president James Shea demanded that Coiteux apologize, calling his action "an affront" to all anglophones — also pointing out that Coiteux represented the West Island riding of Nelligan, where two-thirds of the people are non-francophones.
At the Assembly on Wednesday morning, Coiteux made his apology before a group of reporters.
"I'm really sorry about what this produced. Perhaps my words were not well-chosen. I didn't want to offend anybody, and if I did offend somebody I'm really, really sorry," he said.
Asked if he would answer English questions in English in future, he said he would — at least in part, depending on the question.
Earlier this year, prime minister Justin Trudeau was made to apologize after refusing to answer an English question at a town hall meeting in Sherbrooke. The woman who asked the question, Judy Ross, was asking about English mental health services in the Eastern Townships.
Trudeau said at the time he refused to respond in English, because he was in a French province, but later personally telephoned Ross to apologize.