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Quebec minister says she's sorry if she hurt artists' feelings for insulting red square

QUEBEC – A Quebec cabinet minister delivered a curt apology Wednesday for linking the symbol of the province’s protest movement to violence and intimidation.

“If people were hurt by my comments I’m sorry,” Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre told reporters in a brief scrum before heading into question period.

The minister had been fielding a barrage of condemnation from her opponents, and from artists, for comments she made earlier in the week.

She had tied the red square to violence and intimidation after a prominent artist had refused to come to the national assembly to accept an award — as knight of the National Order of Quebec.

Storyteller Fred Pellerin said he was bursting with pride over the recognition but that, after thinking about it for a while, he decided he would have felt guilty for accepting such a prize while Quebec was embroiled in a social crisis.

It was in reaction to Pellerin’s decision that the minister made the comments. Her opponents expressed outrage in the legislature.

There was also a front-page story in Montreal Le Devoir on Wednesday headlined, “Artists Outraged By Minister St-Pierre,” describing an unprecedented move by 2,600 artists to sign a public letter, demanding an apology.

There have been broken windows at protests and many scuffles with police — but the majority of demonstrations, and the vast majority of demonstrators, have been peaceful.