McCartney urges Quebec to 'smoke the pipes of peace'

Sir Paul McCartney was expected to find the appropriate French translation for "Let it be" last night while headlining an outdoor concert in Quebec, in the hope of finally disarming francophone indignation over his invitation to help the province celebrate its 400th anniversary.

To the consternation of Sir Paul (and the rest of Canada), preparations for tonight's concert at Battlefields Park outside old Quebec City, billed as the highlight of the anniversary celebrations, were marred by protests led by a group of 30 francophone politicians and artists.

Sensitivities about its place in Canada and its French-speaking heritage never seem to die in Quebec. But the concert brouhaha prompted the former Beatle to suggest in an interview with Canadian radio that it was time to "smoke the pipes of peace and to just put away your hatchets". There was never any question of his pulling out and fans began queueing for last night's event on Saturday. It was not Sir Paul, after all, who chose the venue.

The celebrations mark the 1608 sailing of the French explorer Samuel de Champlain up the river St Lawrence to the rocky promontory where he and 30 others founded Quebec. But it was at the Plains of Abraham (now Battlefields Park) that in 1759, General James Wolfe defeated General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm to seize "New France" for Britain.

Nearly 250 years later, the ousting of the French lily by the English rose remains the moment that fuels the French separatism that still lingers in bilingual Quebec. It is the sentiment that informs the province's motto, carried still on car numberplates– "Je Me Souviens" ("I haven't forgotten").

Luc Archambault, a Quebec City artist, was joined by the other prominent city figures associated with the separatist movement, including two MPs, in writing an open letter to Sir Paul. "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," it began. Mr Archambault pleaded with Sir Paul to show as much respect to the "people of French Quebec" as he has to baby seals in the years when he has travelled to eastern Canada.

Sir Paul responded: "I'm very friendly with the French people that I know. I know people of all nationalities. Hey, I'm friendly with German people. By that argument I should never go to Germany or they should never come over here ]to the UK]".

In an editorial yesterday, The Toronto Star referred disparagingly to the "hysteria" whipped up by those objecting to Sir Paul performing in Quebec. "It's hard to fathom the ageing British rocker as imperialism personified," the paper said before adding: "Comparing supposedly downtrodden Quebecois to battered baby seals is certainly novel."

It was a grey-haired demographic surging into Battlefield Park yesterday. "This isn't just a concert," said Kurt Levins, from Edmonton. "This is more like a religious experience for me. " The only French he wanted to hear were the opening lines of "Michelle, Ma Belle".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks
tv

Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries

Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
techPerils of 'text neck' revealed
News
i100
News
Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt
peopleStonewall boss says many fear it could ruin their careers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

Isis takes a big step back

Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

How to shop politically

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

Sex on the brain

Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection