Quebec’s energy minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said on Monday that the number of cars currently on the road will need to be reduced by 50% to help facilitate a green transition.

“I’m one of those people who believes that electric cars… Everything has to be electric. But you have to have half as many,” said Fitzgibbon in a press conference.

His comments come amid Quebec pursuing a net-zero agenda, which includes a ban on the sale of all new gasoline cars in 2035 – similar to those pursued by the federal government. 

Ministry spokesperson Rosalie Tremblay-Cloutier later clarified Fitzgibbon’s remarks, claiming the Legault government does not have active plans to reduce the number of vehicles owned by Quebecers.

“The government has no plans to reduce the number of vehicles on our roads,” Tremblay-Cloutier told Le Journal de Quebec.

“We also want to offer Quebecers other transportation options that are just as efficient, if not more so, than the automobile. We are investing like never before in structuring public transit projects,” she added.

Nevertheless, Fitzgibbon’s comments were the subject of criticism.

Conservative Party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime wrote on X (formerly Twitter) “the CAQ officially declares war on the car,” adding that they “are completely out of touch with the real world.” 

“How do you think the CAQ is going to get rid of half the cars on our roads?” he asked. “There aren’t 50% of Quebecers who will freely choose to abandon their car because Minister Fitzgibbon asks them to.”

“I can assure you, however, that the Quebec Conservative Party will fight to ensure that you can continue to own your car. It’s not the government’s place to judge you and try to get rid of you. The road belongs to all Quebecers,” Duhaime added.

Fitzgibbon previously made headlines after it was revealed he billed taxpayers almost $60,000 for a trip to Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

The WEF has also called for a reduction in the number of cars on the road amid a transition to electric cars, claiming the latter is necessary to limit the world’s reliance on critical metals . 

“This transition from fossil fuels to renewables will need large supplies of critical metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, to name a few,” the non-governmental and lobbying organization said in a July 2022 report.

“Shortages of these critical minerals could raise the costs of clean energy technologies.”