Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vancouver Needs to Fix Opening Ceremony Gaffe

English Canadians are mighty sore at the uproar coming out of Quebec over the lack of French at the opening ceremonies of Vancouver's Olympic games. The comments sections of most Canadian newspapers are replete with anti-Quebec harangues that reflect Canada's impatience with what they perceive as more whining and complaining emanating from a province that always seems to want more.

For those who read my column faithfully, you know that I'm the strongest of defenders of Anglo rights and someone who spends a great deal of time denouncing the pettiness and vindictiveness of Francophone extremists.

That being said, it doesn't mean that I dislike Francophones, the opposite is true, otherwise I wouldn't live here in Quebec and in the case of the Olympic opening ceremonies I am going to come down squarely on the side of the whiners who said that French culture was under-represented.

First of all, the most virulent criticism coming out of Quebec came from people who already hate Canada, the ultra-nationalists, sovereignists and language extremists. These people want the games to fail and relish the fact that there was some English/French controversy. They'll do anything they can to inflame emotions and sow dissent. It is they who screamed the loudest using words like "contempt" and "humiliation. Unfortunately it is these people who get the news coverage and it's natural that Canadians react defensively in the face of cynical and cruel attacks.

But every time Canadians throw up their hands and say "To Hell with Quebec!" I get defensive.

I remind these Quebec bashers that in terms of numbers, there are more federalists residing in Quebec than there are in every single province in Canada, except Ontario!!!!
That's right!

In the last federal election 62% of Quebeckers voted for a federalist party and considering the size of it's population, versus every other province, Quebec cast more votes for federalism, than all but Ontario!

So when people write off Quebec because of what they hear from radicals, they are being disloyal to their fellow proud Canadians that reside in Quebec, both French and English and that includes myself.

The snub to Quebec at the opening ceremonies was hard to digest, not for extremists, who fed on it, but for loyal Francophone Canadians living in Quebec and across the country.

It's as though you go to a family function, a wedding, confirmation or Canada Day party and the host mentions all of the family except your branch of the family because you don't share the same language.

Was there a snub? Indeed there was, if you didn't see it, you are blind.

Quebeckers were every bit as excited as the rest of the country to host the Olympics, not one peep was heard about the Federal governments financial contribution and it's billion dollar security bill. The only ones complaining seemed to come out of the west coast.

Most Quebeckers didn't make a big deal of what happened, they wanted the games to succeed no matter what.

Quebec athletes are proud to put on the red and white and compete for a united team under the Canadian flag. Nobody can ever accuse our province of under performing when it comes to athletes and achievement.

If VANOC believed that the Olympic games belonged to Vancouver and British Columbia alone I could understand their actions, but they even failed on that account. If they wished to showcase their province alone, they excluded the Chinese and Indo-Canadian communities that far outweigh it's native population.

But from coast to coast, Canadians rightly believe these games are hosted by Canada and all it's regions and inhabitants. It was incumbent on the organizers to be inclusive and representative of all and on that account they failed miserably.

Instead of defending their actions for the debacle of the opening ceremonies, they should be re-tooling the closing ceremonies.

And a piece of advice to them.

Reduce the prominence of the Indians in the closing ceremonies, we've had enough of that farce.
Let's see the true face of Canada, which is 23% Francophone. Let us see and hear from Blacks, Browns, Chinese and Indo-Canadians as well.

Canada (and BC) is not just a country of English White Protestants and Natives, it is so much more.....
VANOC should show Canada for what it is, not what they wish it to be.


  1. I do not think that there is a need to represent Quebec.

    Quebec, as a political entity, is but a province in the Canadian confederation. There is no need to represent Quebec in particular as there is no need to represent Nova Scotia, Ontario or Saskatchewan. Same as Quebecers. Quebecers have no more weight than New Brunswickers or Albertans.

    What needs to be represented, however, is the Francophone community. And French representation at the OC was not proportional with its demographic weight. I do not like it when French Quebecers claim that Quebec equals French Canada. We have plenty of English Quebecers (like you and I) and there is also plenty of French non-Quebecer Canadians out there (like Jacques Martin and Jonathan Toews).

  2. BC Native representation a Farce! Wow, who has been brain-washed by the QC media? First Nations and the People of BC have taken a different approach which includes them from the beginning to the end of the Olympics and I take serious offence to that statement. Many of my native friends incidated to me how happy they were with the ceremonies.
    While growing up in BC I went to school at University Hill with several Coast Salish tribe members, here in QC it is very segregated due the QC govt faction that wishes to have only THEIR culture in the province (hence your blog title).
    Another point about BC that I have mailed to several people at La Presse about: the levels of bilingualism (as is obvious at the Ceremonies) in Vancouver cannot be expected to be that of Ottawa - that is the impression. Vancouver is an outward looking city to Asia-Pacific mostly (with Sino/Indo Canadians in much higher numbers than Francophones) and even if there are may bilingual schools (I went to l'École Bilingue btw) conversational French is a rarity. That's reality and geography combined - figure it out, not hard to understand.

    La Presse's Touzin bitched about Volunteers not being bilingual enough - and the above should explain why, but also THEY ARE VOLUNTEERS - so where the hell does this QC media agent entitle themselves to be so judgemental upon people who are giving up their time for VANOC for FREE!? Classy.

  3. "La Presse's Touzin bitched about Volunteers not being bilingual enough"

    Just like Quebecers to want to be accomondated everywhere on the continent,even when they retire in Florida, but expect everyone else to learn to read French before visiting Quebec to get around because they can't be bothered to post bilingual signs.

    The only gaffe and embarassment in this story is why on earth Quebecers would need bilingual volunteers and more French signage after living on a overwhelmingly anglophone continent for 400 years. What's up with that Touzin?

  4. Well, Anonymous, I don't know, but I wrote in protest to her attack on les bénévoles and had no response:

    I see a lot of appeasement in this post by my friend Leo, and I wish to remind him of what point of view he is forgetting to protect: I have not been brain-washed and will continue to fight this sense of entitlement from within QC itself.

  5. I must say I agree with every little bit of what you've said here. I feel exactly the same way.

    You know what? I felt happy when I saw Canada was getting closer to Norway for the 3rd position in numbers of medals. A few days before, I was talking about "them" when it came to Team Canada. And I suddenly heard myself say "we"! Then I got excited about getting more medals than any other country this year, and mental when "we" won the 14th one breaking records.

    When I say we, I see the nation of Quebec in partnership with Canada. Still, it's harmonious!

    But then I re-read some previous posts' comments and Quebec bashing broke that thin harmonious link that was newly created. Meh.

  6. Félicitations pour votre opinion sur le sujet :)!!

  7. I noticed speed skater Charles Hamelin mouthing the words to "Oh Canada" during one of the presentations when he won a gold medal. This must have sent the Quebec separatists into a tizzy!