Quebec headed for independence? That's news to its premier

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - Is Quebec steadily drifting towards independence? That's apparently news to Quebec's premier.

There were some surprised reactions to remarks from ex-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who suggested in a BBC interview that Quebec and Canada are almost two separate countries floating towards a breakup.

That suggestion is being met with resistance from Quebecers who have fought for national unity.

In Montreal, Premier Jean Charest said a strong majority of Quebecers believe in Canada. He agreed with Ignatieff — that the country is a decentralized federation — and he said "important progress" has been made on that score since he took office nine years ago.

A poll on Quebecers' attitudes, coincidentally, appears in this morning's Montreal La Presse newspaper.

It pegs support for independence at 36 per cent — well below the historic highs of the early 1990s and even lower than the level in the first sovereignty referendum, more than three decades ago.

The CROP online poll of 1,000 Quebecers was conducted from April 18 to 23.