CALGARY, Alberta, July 10 (UPI) -- The Calgary Stampede's decision to play the "O Canada" anthem in English only at the ongoing western-based festival has created more French-English acrimony.
The 100th anniversary of the stampede opened Friday and a bilingual version of the anthem was played at the grandstand before the chuck wagon races, the Calgary Herald reported.
Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser told the newspaper the failure of a large portion of the audience to join in the singing of the anthem prompted the decision to drop the French verses.
"Our community said they wanted to be able to show their patriotism during the anthem and that's why we made the decision to go back to the English version," he said. "We obviously want a lot of audience participation when the anthem is sung, and we weren't getting that participation Friday night."
Among the dignitaries at the opening night was a delegation from Quebec, the Herald said.
Ironically, Calgary and Quebec City have been twin cities since 1956.
Since the decision was made, stampede officials and federal heritage authorities have declined to comment further, The Globe and Mail reported.
The social media Twitter site saw a surge in critical postings from Quebec, accusing Albertans of being "rednecks," while many Albertans questioned why Quebec provincial law mandates store signs be in French.