FREDERICTON - Serial killer Allan Legere -- the man widely known in the Maritimes as the Monster of the Miramichi -- will remain in the Quebec-based, special-handling unit that houses Canada's most dangerous offenders, despite published reports to the contrary.

New Brunswick's public safety minister, John Foran, said his federal counterpart, Stockwell Day, offered assurances that Legere is staying put during a phone call Tuesday.

"He's assured me that there's no way Mr. Legere would be moved back to New Brunswick, there's no way that his status in prison is going to be downgraded, and he's not being transferred," Foran said.

Officials at Correctional Services Canada declined to comment on Legere's status, citing privacy legislation..

Earlier reports suggested Corrections Canada was planning to transfer Legere from the super-maximum-security Special Handling Unit at Ste.-Anne-des-Plaines near Montreal, to a regular maximum-security prison in Port-Cartier, 70 kilometres west of Sept-Iles, Que.

The reports of the transfer prompted calls and letters of protest to Day from Foran and Miramichi Mayor Gerry Cormier.

"Surely the facts of Mr. Legere's criminal past warrant continued incarceration in the highest possible security facility available," Cormier wrote. "If he does not warrant such careful observation, who does?"

Legere is serving a life sentence for the grisly murders of five people in the Miramichi area between 1986 and 1989.

He was sentenced to life in prison for the 1986 murder of John Glendenning, a shopkeeper in Black River Bridge, but escaped from custody two years later and committed four murders while on the loose.

The manhunt came to an end in November 1989 when Legere surrendered to police near Nelson, N.B.

Foran, a former police officer in the Miramichi area, said he has a history of dealing with Legere that dates back to the early 1970s.

"Personally, I believe that he should never be allowed out when his time comes," Foran said. "He devastated my community and I don't want to see us go back to that."

Cormier said Day did the right thing.

"I feel that the people of the Miramichi, and the province, are happy and can maybe breathe a little easier because there was a lot of concern, and probably some fear," he said.