Universal Music's Canada 150 compilation has some Quebecers crying foul

Universal Music Canada's 6-disc celebration of Canadian music is drawing ire because it includes no French songs. Céline Dion is featured on it, but it's one of her English songs.

Critics condemn 6-disc celebration of Canadian music that omits French-language songs

Céline Dion is featured on a relatively new compilation of songs, put together for Canada's 150th anniversary, but it's one of her English tunes. There are no French songs on the six-disc collection. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Universal Music Canada is finding out the hard way that what constitutes Canadian music is anything but universally agreed upon, especially in Quebec.

To mark Canada's 150th anniversary, the company released Canada 150: A Celebration of Music, a six-CD set of Canadian hits from the 1960s to now, at the end of June.

In a news release, Universal heralded the set as "offering something for all Canadian music fans to celebrate."

The only problem is, it doesn't contain any songs in French.

That omission is getting noticed in Quebec, home to more than eight million Canadians, of whom more than six million consider French their mother tongue.

In a news release issued in May, Universal Music Canada's President and CEO, Jeffrey Remedios, acknowledges the difficulty of capturing "a country as vast and diverse as ours, with rich histories from countless perspectives."
'Canada 150: A Celebration of Music' came out in time for Canada Day and has met with cool reviews in Quebec over its lack of French-Canadian songs. (Universal Music)

The compilation doesn't ignore Quebec, which is represented by Montreal singer-songwriters and bands performing in English, such as Leonard Cohen, Men Without Hats, Gino Vannelli and Corey Hart.

It does include a francophone artist from Quebec — Céline Dion — but she's performing her Titanic English-language hit My Heart Will Go On.

Marie-Andrée Paquet even reworked the cover of the CD set.

The lack of francophone content earned the box-set a 1.5-star review in Montreal's French-language newspaper, Journal de Montréal, and a heap of criticism on social media (in French).

Universal Music Canada replied with a statement on July 19 saying that it would take action to remedy the situation, calling "the absence of French-language repertoire" an "incomprehensible oversight."