French rocker sparks outcry in Quebec

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A Quebec theatre troupe's casting of a French rock star convicted of killing his girlfriend in 2003 provoked outrage on Canada's campaign trail Thursday, as a former minister vowed to deny him entry.

Bertrand Cantat, the former lead singer of the rock band Noir Désir, was sentenced to eight years in jail after he beat his girlfriend Marie Trintignant to death in a Lithuanian hotel room in 2003.

He was paroled in 2007.

Montreal's largest theatre company Théâtre du Nouveau Monde announced this week he had been invited to appear in three plays by Sophocles directed by Wajdi Mouawad in its 2011-2012 season.

Josee Verner, a former minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government, declared that if her party is returned to power it would not allow Cantat entry into the country.

"I can tell you that our party would not grant him a special permit for entry to Canada," she said. "There will be no exception made for him under Canadian immigration laws."

The immigration act bans anyone convicted abroad of a crime that is punishable in Canada by at least 10 years in prison from entry. Cantat would have faced life in prison for the crime of manslaughter in Canada.

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe and several Quebec provincial politicians also decried Cantat's coming to Canada.

Théâtre du Nouveau Monde defended its choice, saying Cantat paid for his crime.

© 2011 AFP

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