July 5, 2008 / 8:10 PM / 9 years ago

Canada sorry for offensive French fries invitation

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s U.S. embassy apologized on Thursday for a party invitation that featured a prominent figure in Canadian history brandishing a large plate of French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.

The dish -- known as poutine -- is often looked down on as a kind of staple fast food in the French-speaking province of Quebec, where some nationalists are quick to take offense at what they see as unfair treatment by the country’s English-speaking majority.

The e-mailed invitation to a Canada Day party on July 1 showed Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who founded Quebec City on July 3, 1608, holding a plate of poutine.

Jean-Paul Perreault, president of the Imperatif Francais group, said the invitation was an outrage and an insult. He demanded an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and said Foreign Minister David Emerson should resign.

“If they wanted to make a joke it’s a really bad joke and if it wasn’t a joke, well, it’s worse,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., saying the invitation was equivalent to using a hot-dog to promote English-speaking Canada.

“The embassy of Canada changed the invitation to its Canada Day celebrations with Samuel de Champlain. It was not intended to offend anybody and we apologize if it offended anyone,” said embassy spokesman Tristan Landry.

He added that contrary to initial reports, the invitation had been e-mailed out in both English and French.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway

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