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Online Petition Calls For Stompin’ Tom Connors To Receive A State Funeral
March 11, 2013
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There's a new push happening to honour the late Stompin' Tom Connors with a state funeral.

Kenneth McGrath, one of Stompin' Tom's biggest fans, has launched a petition on change.org asking the Prime Minister to consider the request.

McGrath, who's originally from Prince Edward Island, first heard Connors music when he was a kid and has been hooked ever since.

"Like so many other Canadians, I've always felt a connection to Stompin' Tom through his music and travels," he said. "He had no pretensions, always stuck to his principles, and his songs appeal to Canadian patriotism at a very sincere, grassroots level."

State funerals in Canada have always been reserved exclusively for Prime Ministers and Governor Generals, although former opposition leader Jack Layton did receive one in 2011.

McGrath believes Stompin' Tom is worthy of one as well - a point other Canadians have raised on Twitter.

"Stompin' Tom is an example from our musical industry of an artist who remained outspokenly and proudly Canadian," McGrath said.

"His appeal spanned geography and political sensibilities as he focused on aspects of Canadian life, traditions, and folklore that we can all identify with. A state funeral in honour of one of our great cultural icons would demonstrate this reality in a symbolic and dignified manner."

As of this writing, nearly 850 people have signed McGrath's petition.

A private memorial will be held in Connors honour tomorrow and a public one on Wednesday in Peterborough, Ontario.

Peterborough is where Connors got his Stompin' Tom nickname in 1967 during a show at the King George Hotel.

Connors died last week at the age of 77.

Today, a spokesperson said the nature of his illness gave Connors about two weeks to help plan a way for his fans to say goodbye.

"Oh, nobody knew exactly what he wanted more than he did, and that's typical Tom, through and through," Brian Edwards told The Canadian Press.

"I mean, nobody would expect anything less. Right down to some things that will happen there on Wednesday night, he's written all over it -- there's no doubt about it."

Edwards said he worked personally with Connors to arrange the event and come up with a guest list.

He said it will be a mix of live music, video clips, and never before seen photos along with guest speakers, including Ken Dryden and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson.

Among those performing will be former Rheostatics frontman Dave Bidini and folk singer/songwriter Sylvia Tyson, with more guests to be confirmed.

If you didn't see the opening of Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday night, they paid tribute to Stompin' Tom with this video montage.

Connors became legendary for classic Canadian songs like The Hockey Song, Margo's Cargo, and Bud the Spud.

The public service will be at the Memorial Centre hockey arena in Peterborough, which will hold about 3,800 people for the event.

"What's amazing is the people... the fans have come through just strong as ever," Edwards said.

"That's the whole point of his career and always was, the fanbase. It certainly wasn't based on the fact that he had too many hit records on the radio.

"It was based on the fans, and they're coming out in droves."

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