Uproar as artists turn backs on sovereignty
: Stars’ remarks a cause célèbre in Quebec (INGRID PERITZ, 4/14/06, Globe and Mail)

Artists have always been in the vanguard for Quebec independence. So when two of the province’s artistic luminaries questioned their sovereigntist faith this week, their remarks fell like a bombshell.

Michel Tremblay, the world-acclaimed playwright whose works have helped capture Quebec’s soul, declared that he was no longer a separatist. It was as if the Pope were renouncing Catholicism. Mr. Tremblay’s words were front-page news.

Then another light of the Quebec stage, Robert Lepage, enjoined that he, too, was “less convinced” about independence. The theatre director even admitted to ambivalence about his Quebec identity, since he considered himself Canadian when he travelled the world.

“When I’m here in Quebec, even in Ottawa, I don’t feel Canadian,” Mr. Lepage said. “But when I travel abroad, I don’t know what happens, I feel that Canada is a reality, and I’m part of it.”

The pair’s avowals had the entire province talking. And the backlash within independence circles, especially against the iconic Mr. Tremblay, was fast and ferocious.

Stop thinking of yourselves as a nation and you aren’t one.

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