Flap brew­ing over pres­ence of French at Olympic open­ing cer­e­monies

Cape Breton Post - - NATIONAL - BY DENE MOORE

Ire­land-born VANOC CEO John Fur­long ad­dressed the crowd in French, but Charest said he would have liked to hear more.

“ The open­ing cer­e­mony was mag­nif­i­cent,” Charest said in Whistler, B.C. “ They re­ally car­ried it off but every­one would have liked to see more French in the cer­e­mony. Yes, that falls into the wish cat­e­gory and what we’d like to see dur­ing the rest of the Games.”

Charest ac­knowl­edged that Man­darin has a big­ger pres­ence than French in Bri­tish Columbia, but he said more needs to be done to boost the vis­i­bil­ity of French be­cause it is an of­fi­cial Olympic lan­guage.

Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada fig­ures from 2006, there were about 1.2 mil­lion an­glo­phones in the metropoli­tan Van­cou­ver area, and 24,135 fran­co­phones, com­pared to 324,840 who iden­ti­fied them­selves as Chi­nese, 116,635 as Pun­jabi-speak­ing In­doCana­di­ans, 45,830 Filipinos and 41,235 Korean.

Of­fi­cial Lan­guages Com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Fraser likened French in Van­cou­ver to the dearth of snow in and around the city.

“Peo­ple had high ex­pec­ta­tions there would be some (snow),” he said in an in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press. “In some cases, it’s been pre­served in cer­tain places but it’s some­times hard to find.”

Fraser did not say he was dis­ap­pointed with the lin­guis­tic makeup of the cer­e­mony, but that the event was not what he ex­pected.

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