Sunday, February 14, 2010

Are Vancouver Olympics Melting Down?

So far it doesn't seem to be a very auspicious start for Vancouver's Olympic Games. The lack of snow is the over-riding element and has already played havoc with the scheduled events, but it is not the only problem.

Was Vancouver a mistake in the first place?

The death of Georgian luge athlete Nodal Kumaritashvili was tragic and sad, but paradoxically actually heightened interest in the Games, just as a good car crash brings out our ghoulish instincts.

Of course, no west coast event would be complete without an anarchist demonstration, bent on destroying property and generally adding a healthy dose of mayhem to the festivities. It's hard to understand exactly what they are protesting and I'm not sure that they know themselves.
Some complain that the games are being staged on Native land, but it seems that the Indians have been pretty happy about their role that they've been assigned at the Games.
Others protested that the money spent on the Olympics should have gone to social programs. From the looks of the demonstrators, I am sure the money could have been well spent on more safe injection sites. Perhaps the Olympics should have considered making one into an official venue.

That being said the opening ceremonies did not go off cleanly, with the failure of machinery to hoist some of the pillars that were to be lit with the Olympic torch.

While Montrealer Nikki Yanofsky gave a talented and jazzy performance of O Canada, it seems that it didn't sit well with about half the country, who were outraged at the liberties she took.

The lack of French throughout the ceremony was so pervasive that it was embarrassing to all Quebeckers, including we Anglos. Subtitles are just not acceptable in a bilingual country, VANOC seemed completely oblivious to that fact that Canada is almost one quarter French. Bobby Orr was a good choice to to be a flag bearer and Wayne Gretzky an excellent choice for flame lighter, but geez, what about Guy Lafleur?

The entertainment was an English only affair with just one performance in French. The fiddle number which featured Ashley McIsaac included performers from all over Canada, except Quebec, which has an excellent fiddle reputation. For me, that was the most insulting slight.

As for the controversy over Miss Yanofsky's rendition of O Canada, I never realized how picky Canadians can be.

I even read a post where a gentleman was outraged that the Canadian flag hoisted in the stadium was not regulation and had a distorted vertical element.
Sounds pretty petty, but he was right.

For those of you interested in what a bad representation of the Canadian flag is, here's a sample;

Don't see anything wrong with it? Neither did I, until it was pointed out to me that the following is the correct and official version of the Canadian flag;

Can you see the difference? Apparently VANOC can't either!

Let's hope things get better.


  1. I wasn't fond of Nicky Yanofsky's rendition of the national anthem. It was way too slow!

    While there was very little unofficial French language content related to the performances, I would guess that Vancouver wanted to showcase a lot of Vancouver and BC.

    The ceremonies had a lot of Aboriginal content. However, it is similar to schools presentiing Black Histroy Month assemblies and P.A. announcements in February. We'll forget about both of them after the evemts are over.

    People may complain about the lack of French language content at the at the opening ceremony. British Columbians are proud Canadians. At the same time, they are proud British Columbians. That means that they will define their own identity as they see fit.

    Specific dimensions of the Canadian flag

  3. If the winter olympics were held in Quebec City, how much of the English language and anglophones would be present in the opening ceremonies?Probably very little.

    I'm reminded of the two acts of Anglo-Quebecers at one of the musical celebrations at the 2009 Fete Nationale in Montreal. A sponsor threatened to pull out unless they were dropped.
    When they did appear, some members of the "Young Patriotes of Quebec," or the "Quebecois Hitler Youth," verbally harassed them.

  4. P.S. today (Feb. 15) is Flag day in Canada

  5. Those French language zealots have the audacity to complain to an event in BC while in the same breath they also complain about bilingual signs on St. Catherine Street and want to make CEGEP French only. Talk about hypocrisy!

  6. Hehehehe :) I love you quebecois-basher canadians... you're funny... Makes me wonder why you oppose to Quebec's sovereignty, you seem to want it done with us as much as we want out with you. Sweet irrationality... (the translation of Patriotes to Hitler is just golden. I wish your anti-quebec quotes could be well publicized in Quebec, it would surely help its hitlerean (sic) cause...)

    What would we have done with Olympics and languages... I think we'd been bilingual. But it's hard to prove. Oh wait, no it's not, we did have the Olympics! And gees... it was bilingual! Guess who officially opened the Ceremony... Za Queen Eliz II, our dearest (yours? Ontario's?) in both french and english! Need proof, well, thank you Youtube!

    Carriers of the Torch: Stéphane Préfontaine and.... Sandra Henderson from Toronto!

    That BC and Vancouver want to promote themselves, why not, does make sense. But the way you guys explain it just underlines the hypocrisy behind the official bilingual status of the Country, a great policy from anti-sovereignty PET from 1982 that aimed at saying that Quebec was one of many cultures in a multicultural Canada, and french was a canadian language rather than being mostly from Quebec.

    But internal politics/wars aside, I think it was irresponsible not to include French not because it's sensitive in "harmonious" Canada, but because French is traditionally an official language of the Olympic Games. They spoke more french in Beijing's ceremonies than they did so far in Vancouver's. Perhaps the closing ceremonies will change that.

    You can now thank Quebec for providing Canada with its first and only (as of now) golden medal ever won at any of the Canadian Olympic Games. Don't you love us? Of course you, but don't change, you look cute when you're grumpy

  7. The best thing that could happen to Canada would be the separation of Quebec. The wealthier provinces would no longer have to pour billions of dollars into the bottomless pit that is Quebec. In the past 15 years, Quebec has received 80 billion dollars of transfer payments from english speaking provinces, which is outrageous considering how badly it treats its english speaking minority.

    The Montreal Olympics were held in 1976, which was a long time ago. At the time Quebec was a bilingual province. A great deal has changed since then, with the election of the Parti Quebecois, the passing of racist language laws, referendums on separation, etc., etc.

  8. Hehehehe :) first part: couldn't agree more, best thing that could happen. We're sad together. For the money, sucks to be you, but I don't mean it badly, if it's unfair, it really does suck. Remains to be checked, but I was told in Univ that in the total transfer of taxes to the federal gov from Quebec and what comes back, we get something like a billion more than what we give. All that coming from calculation of the tax we send to Ottawa for services that Canada provides to Canadian (health and children day care for example) that we actually take care of ourselves on the provincial level. All in all, as a proud Quebecois citizen, I am not supporting getting more money from our neighbor country of Canadia. I'm not supporting all actions and policies from my government, as I hope you aren't following blindly Harper's policies and tactics. I'll have to verify this numbers thing, in the meantime, you're right by default, and I'll just save face by smiling and say "we played our cards well, heh? getting yer money in yer face like that! hehehe... Suckah!"
    I'm not against quebecois bashing, the principal source of wanting to split from Canada comes not from a rational cost calculation, but from a strong identity feeling, the desire to lead as we please, withough constant compromise with the West which has completely opposite values than us. Having Canadia spitting at Quebec just helps emphasize that we are not Canadians and encourages the development of the quebecois identity. I'm not anti-anglo or anti-canadian myself. Believe it or not, I even worked at the political section of a big Canadian Embassy abroad. My colleague was from Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal and he actually supported the Quebec independance movement! As for me it was a great experience where I got to learn a lot about Canadian culture. People from that country would ask me how do you do this and that in Canada, and I always had to check with my colleague to see if it was like in Quebec, and it usually wasn't. You can't agree to what you don't understand. And I know by experience that the quebec identity is usually not a concept that canadians are able to understand. It's a feeling, an emotion, not something you can just read and learn. And Quebec bashing helps this feeling grow, so keep it up!

    The anglo-franco war has lasted forever in Montreal, I find it ridiculous, and most Montrealers I know think so too. I have anglo friends, franco friends, and we're not debating like we're doing here, we're just living. And I believe life in Montreal is by far the best compare to anywhere else in Canadia, Quebec province included. Multicultural and bilingual, one of the few, if not the only one.

    Calling us racist and hitlerean fascist just make you (not you yourself, but quebec bashers in general) look like the Americans when they see any social policies as communist and evil. It's just plain dumb, and these comments really make us laugh, not even slightly angry, it's just so unbelievable that someone could be so ignorant that we can't help but laugh. Cute and grumpy Quebec bashers, quite a fascinating phenomenon.

  9. You really need to check your numbers. Quebec receives a huge amount of transfer payments from the other provinces. In 2008 alone, it received 8.4 billion dollars more than it paid in taxes to the federal government. You are the one who is ignorant.

    A separate Quebec will be nothing more than a Third World country without the massive financial support of the rest of Canada. You already have the highest tax rate of any jurisdiction in North America.

    If Quebec eventually does separate, perhaps the Americans will disagree with its heavily socialist policies and decide to invade. In the seventies, President Jimmy Carter had a secret contingency plan to invade Quebec if it separated from Canada. He later won a Nobel Peace Prize! The Americans probably still have an invasion plan. It would take them less than a day to conquer Quebec, because the Quebecois would probably run and hide in the woods like they did in both world wars.

    I was born in Montreal and lived there for many years. Life in Ottawa is much better, where my language isn’t restricted or banned. There are plenty of Anglo-Montrealers who have moved here, because they couldn’t stand it in Quebec either. The ethnic cleansing in Quebec has resulted in the exodus of more than 500,000 anglophones in the past 40 years. This is a huge number of people when you consider the fact that the population of Quebec is only 7 million. The father of Bill 101 himself, Camille Laurin, said he wanted to reduce the number of Anglos there. It looks like he succeeded.

    Canada bashing has been a provincial pastime in Quebec for decades. One of my cousins made the almost fatal mistake of going to a Saint-Jean Baptiste Day event wearing a shirt with a Canada flag on it. He was only 7 or 8 years old at the time, so he wasn’t aware of the sensibilities of proud Quebecois. They tore the shirt off his back.

    I think you are very angry, despite what you claim. That is why you’re on this website.
    I am watching the angry, almost hysterical, complaints in Quebec about the lack of French at the Olympic games with glee.

  10. on principle both official languages, especially if they are both official Olympic Games languages should be spoken at the games. It is in Canada's interest to have French spoken clearly.

    I identify myself more as a Montrealer than a Québecer but was embarrassed by just about everybody who tried to speak French, except Jacques Rogge (Belgian president of IOC) and the reading of the pledges for athletes and officials as well as Michaëlle Jean's officially opening the games.

    VANOC should have taken speaking French more seriously on principle so as not to embarrass themselves and CANADA. not Québec.


  11. oh, and the flag! how could you not use the proper flag? for every single medal ceremony etc.