A Quebec cabinet minister has told reporters that Anglophones never left the province in droves following the political climate of the 1970s and 1990s.
When challenged, the health minister Réjean Hébert later said that departures took place a long time ago.
The minister had been asked about yesterday's CBC poll, which says half of Anglophones and Allophones in Quebec have seriously thought about leaving in the past year.
"They could have anxiety but, you know, they will not leave," said Minister Hébert. "We should treat it as it is. An anxiety and not an intention to leave."
Hébert said Anglophones and Allophones in Quebec have already been through similar political climates in the 1970s and 1990s and they were always well-treated by the PQ government.
"This exodus of Anglophones and immigrants never happened, you know?" he said.
"Many years ago"
According to Statistics Canada, 200,000 Anglophones left Quebec between 1971 and 2001. The population hit a low-point 13 years ago, in 2001.
When a reporter pointed out to Hébert that thousands of people did leave, he responded "many years ago, OK?"
Hébert says he and his government can do little to calm anxieties among the non-Francophone population.
"I think people choose to stay in Quebec and they should be happy to be here."