Sir Paul McCartney has tried to defuse the row about his forthcoming gig in Quebec City by telling his critics to "smoke the pipes of peace".
Referring to his 1983 song of the same name, the former Beatle told Quebec nationalists opposing his appearance at a concert marking the 400th anniversary of the city that it was a "show of friendship" and that they should let history remain in the past.
The controversy has arisen because of a British invasion of Quebec in 1790, with nationalists arguing that a performance by a UK artist was not appropriate.
In an interview with Radio Canada, McCartney said that the protesters' attitude was comparable to him still refusing to play in Germany because of the world wars.
He said: "I think it's time to smoke the pipes of peace and to just, you know, put away your hatchet because I think it's a show of friendship.
"I'm very friendly with the French people that I know. I know people of all nationalities and, hey, I'm friendly with German people and, by that argument, I should never go to Germany or they should never come here."
The argument began with an open letter to McCartney, printed in a local Quebec newspaper, calling for him to learn some French songs before the gig.
The letter read: "The presence of your English-language music on the most majestic part of Battlefields Park, as beautiful as it might be, can't help but bring back painful memories of our Conquest." ...
Separatists true colours come out.
This is what anglos and minorities have to put up with day in and day out in Quebec the petty disrespect and constant moanings of the French separatists. Canadian tax money funds their constant moanings btw. ... This time they have embarrassed themselves and Quebec tourism on the world stage in front of the world media. ... This is what they are like in Quebec all the time. Never happy and constantly wanting to make life uncomfortable for those not drinking their political ideology coolaid. ...Too bad our Canadian politicians don't have the same guts as Sir Paul did and tell these sad sack separatists to "smoke the pipes of peace already". No guts no glory. Sir Paul thank you for telling it like it is. All the decent and tolerant people of Quebec salute you and honour you excluding the bitter hate filled separatists of course!
It's Deja Vu All Over Again: Montcalm Versus Wolfe or is it Dion Versus McCartney? The Fight Over the Plains of Abraham:
A recount in the turf battle of the Plains of Abraham - set off when Céline Dion's husband-manager René Angélil objected that Paul McCartney would have 250,000 spectators for his free concert July 20 and Céline would only have 100,000 for her Aug. 22 performance - has resulted in a tie.
Each show now has room for about 200,000 spectators.
Daniel Gélinas, who heads the Société du 400é, which is managing festivities marking Quebec City's 400th birthday, told reporters yesterday that calculating three persons a square metre, and expanding the site, there will be room for 170,000 to 200,000 at the natural amphitheatre where the McCartney show was originally planned.
Using the same calculation, 350,000 could squeeze into the site planned for Dion's show. But he admitted not all those places have a good view.
So in addition to the 100,000 holders of free tickets, who will have reserved places, Gélinas said another 100,000 to 120,000 could see Dion's show.
Gélinas phoned Angélil in France yesterday and reported that Dion's manager is "very, very happy" with the the new arrangement.
KEVIN DOUGHERTY, The Gazette
Published: Wednesday, July 09