Flap brewing over presence of French at Olympic opening ceremonies
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.