Minister says Olympic ceremonies lack French

CHRISTINA SPENCER, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

OTTAWA – Canada’s heritage minister says he’s “disappointed” at the amount of French in the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics Friday.

James Moore’s criticism was supported by the country’s official languages commissioner.

“I thought that the opening ceremonies were brilliant but there should have been more French, just period, full stop,” Moore told CBC.

While calling the opening ceremonies “a huge success,” he said he had hoped for “a better representation” of Canadian biculturalism.

He said he hopes the closing ceremonies feature more francophone culture.

Friday night’s opening extravaganza won plaudits globally. Among its themes was Canada’s aboriginal heritage, with a welcome and ceremonial dancing by dozens of aboriginal performers.

Francophone artists such as Garou were featured, and the athlete delegations were announced in both official languages.

Vancouver Olympics organizer CEO John Furlong spoke almost exclusively in English, but International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge spoke mainly in French. Governor-General Michaelle Jean opened the games in both official languages.

“At the countdown ceremony a year ago there was no French at all and we were quite concerned about it,” Graham Fraser, Canada’s official languages commissioner told CBC.

He said the organizing committee has since come a long way in terms of bilingual signage and translation but “the reflex isn’t there.

“There are times that I feel that French in Vancouver is a bit like snow: everybody in Vancouver was hoping it would be here but its sometimes hard to find.”

Christina.spencer@sunmedia.ca


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