There is plenty of French at the Vancouver Olympics

with 168 comments

Walking around downtown Vancouver yesterday I was thinking many things.  I was thinking it just might be Canada’s most beautiful city.  I was asking myslef if Vancouver was the first city to hold the Winter Olympics in the middle of summer.  I was thinking that if I was a crackhead I would also prefer to live in Vancouver than, say, Thunder Bay.   I also thought about Pamela Anderson a lot, but the fact that she is from Vancouver was only a pretext.

One thing I wasn’t thinking is : “This is a bilingual city.”

Montréal’s federalist media, Québec’s Premier Jean Charest, the Liberal Party of Canada’s Denis Coderre, the federal commissioner for official languages Graham Fraser, the Heritage minister James Moore are pissed off at Vancouver for not appropriately showcasing Canada only officially approved branding as a billingual/multicultural country during last Friday’s opening ceremonies.

“I am so proud to be a Canadian! It is with great pride that I realized that the organizers of the Vancouver Olympics truly understand the real Canada!”, wrote Réjean Tremblay–in English!–in La Presse. “I am so proud that I had to put some of my emotions in writing in this country’s “superior language” so that the bosses at VANOC would be proud of me.”

See…  I don’t get that.

God forbid Vancouver should present itself to the world as what it is:  one of the great Pacific cities like Singapore and Hong Kong and San Francisco, born of the fateful meeting of Asia and Great-Britain, of wandering Brits, Punjabis, Cantoneses, Hans, Scots and Malays.  A city where English is the common language.

Why do Canadians always feel the need to pretend we’re all living in northern Ontario, hunting moose and speaking bilingual under four feet of snow?  Over two thirds of Canadians live on the Pacific Coast and in the Great Lakes area!  French and snowstorms are as foreign to the culture of Canadians in Vancouver and Toronto as bullfighting yet English Canadians always seem obligated  to pretend they’re living in Kapuskasing!

You hear French all the time in Vancouver.  Walking the city yesterday I heard French spoken by squeegee punks on Granville and very chic Haitian ladies on the waterfront.  Some fluently French-speaking Anglo hipster on Commercial was able to explain to me how to purchase a six-pack.  I even talked French with a Sécurité du Québec police officer on loan to the RCMP.

But I also heard just as much Japanese, Cantonese and Punjabi.  I also heard kids who’s roots could have been anywhere in the world speaking English to each other.  That’s what Vancouver is:  a multicoloured (the concept incorrectly expressed as multicultural in Canadian English) city where people are educated and work in the commonly agreed upon language of English.

Kind of like the society the people of Québec have been trying to build for the last 40 years, except that because it’s being done in English instead of French, British-Columbia it is considered “normal”…

Vancouver is an English-speaking City and its Olympic Games and cermonies reflect that fact.  If anything, it’s the Asian aspect of BC culture that is absent from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic branding, not the French language.

Now, let’s just hope that if and when Québec City get’s to host it’s own Olympic games in 2022, the French language will be as visible as English in Vancouver…

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

168 Responses

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  1. AFG writes:

    And I suppose that the separatists are also to blame for the downfall of Detroit, Baltimore, Hartford, Kingston, etc…

    No, just Montreal.

    Tony Kondaks

    February 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm

  2. “Québec will be better positioned for the higher value work.”

    i hope you’re right about that – apart from the taxes and unions – quebec is a wonderful place – wouldn’t want to trade it for anything. it would be a good thing to raise the standard of living – no matter where anybody lives. but my point was india reduces poverty and is creating wealth at a rate that western countries cannot even dream about – and one of the reasons for this remarkable growth is government “getting out of the way”.

    and because you brought it up, camille laurin could never be characterised as someone who got out of the way. he was a major player in the collectivity and truly believed he knew what was best for everyone.


    February 22, 2010 at 8:08 pm

  3. edward,

    you have neglected to point out that the implementation of tarp stateside was the perverted version jammed in by the democrats who seem to think (much like the ndp here) that money grows on trees.

    i don’t want to appear contrary but at what point does a reasonable individual say to themself – gee, i can’t really afford that new car, condo, plasma tv or whatever. since when did creditors start accepting iou’s in lieu of payments?

    if individuals can make sound fiscal decisions why can’t governments? the simple answer is: because it’s not their money and they don’t care if it becomes a burden on you. yes you edward. repent!


    February 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm

  4. “Science is not democracy and “consensus” holds virtually no weight. These are things for politicians.” (TK)

    Consensus actually holds considerable weight in science. We have the peer-review process to determine whether a study is valid or not. The best studies are judged so based on their “impact factor” (i.e., how many other people refer back to those studies). And review articles, which cite and describe others’ work, are how most scientists get introduced to ideas outside their area of expertise.

    When esteemed scholarly bodies like the National Academy of Sciences of the United States or the Royal Society in the UK declare that global climate change is a serious challenge that must be addressed, it has to be taken seriously precisely because of the consensus of brilliant minds. This is not the same as some schmoe from a conservative think-tank bought-and-paid-for by Exxon-Mobile saying he has serious doubts about global warming.

    They could be wrong and they may even be politically biased, but I am all in favor of going with the crowd mentality when the mentality of the particular crowd is so exceptional.


    February 22, 2010 at 8:36 pm

  5. Johnny,
    I agree with you that huge government spending programs are inefficient and that throwing money at problems is a bad way to solve them (unless as in the particular case of the TARP the actual problem itself is a shortage of cash).

    I concur that the stimulus package is not a great idea in general since it is kind of a shotgun approach to getting the economy going and the more money that is out there the less people take seriously competing and proving their worth. On the other hand it is better than the typical GOP tax cut approach which is for all practical purposes just throwing money into the economy without even trying to target things that are useful. “Let the market decide what is useful” you say? Well that is what happened during the Clinton and Bush years when the market told investors that real estate was a terrific investment. The market can be irrational and brutal at times.

    What Obama is trying to do with the stimulus is to create jobs. That is what the economy needs. Without jobs, people don’t have money to spend and without spending the real economic engine is stalled.

    Ronald Reagan argued that we should cut taxes and watch the tax revenues come pouring in as the economy takes off. This is essentially what Obama is doing too. The stimulus is expected to pay for itself by getting people back to work and paying taxes again. It is borrowing in order to build a stronger foundation for the future.

    Is it the best way to do it? Maybe not, but doing nothing is like discovering your business is losing money and just sitting there and waiting for it to fail instead of buying advertisements and revamping the sign in front of the shop.


    February 22, 2010 at 8:54 pm

  6. Edward. I am so happy that there are still people like you out there that understand how science works.

    But what did you expect from the Toner? We already knew that he fears history, math, democracy and thinking in general, why did you expect him to embrace science?


    February 22, 2010 at 9:06 pm

  7. Gee,
    He’s a decent guy with his own way of thinking. I can respect that and want to understand where he is coming from. I’m sure Johnny would agree that we each have our own ideological record-skips.


    February 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm

  8. agf and yes you too edward (repent),

    the tampering with the peer review process is only one of the myriad problems facing the ipcc climatechange/warming/we are all going to die because the sky is falling science concensus debacle scams of the century. i know, you think i’m exagerating and foaming at the mouth in one of my typical irrational agf blogging moments but…..

    your defense of ridiculously poor science (and it seems you may be part of the last hundred million individuals on the planet to know about this) may be something you want to reconsider – i say this because i like you both an awful lot and it’s embarrassing to see you piss into the wind.

    there are only two questions that require scrutiny.

    1) is the warming since the last ice age unusual / does it pose a danger to mankind?

    scientific answer – no.

    2) has human activity been proven as causal?

    scientific answer – no.

    has it been proven that principal contributors to the climatechange/et cetera hoax have cooked the books.

    scientific answer – yes

    do i have to get down on my knees and beg you to do some objective research into this or are you just going to continue to make fools of yourselves?

    edward. repent. you too agf.


    February 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  9. edward:

    As I said, I’m not a scientist and really don’t have a stake in the global warming debate. But skepticism is part and parcel of science…and when it is discouraged, people should be very cautious.

    As for think tanks being funded by Exxon: I would be more worried about funding by the government (which probably represents more than 98% of all global warming funding) because, as we all know, government never has an agenda.

    Here’s a great talk on science and consensus by the late Michael Crichton:

    Tony Kondaks

    February 22, 2010 at 10:12 pm

  10. “Edward. I am so happy that there are still people like you out there that understand how science works.”

    Of course, as Michael Mann and Phil Jones of the CRU make science, attempting to conceal their lack of science with fudged numbers…Hide the decline….could be said for the french language which is in decline…of course there will be the deniers :)

    Hide the decline.


    February 22, 2010 at 10:43 pm

  11. [img][/img]


    February 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm

  12. edward

    February 22, 2010 at 10:56 pm

  13. edward, grey lady and wapo – now i gets it.


    February 22, 2010 at 11:06 pm

  14. Yes, my true East coast urban elitist roots are showing… and I don’t drink Budweiser either.

    One day, we can only hope, Rupert Murdoch, will buy my hometown paper and it can finally become fair and balanced, endorse Sarah Palin’s second term, and run profiles in courage for the Cuban liberation war vets.


    February 23, 2010 at 7:40 am

  15. Tony:
    > Of course it’s accurate.

    I’m not saying every French colonist learned every aboriginal language and started using one of them (which one?) at home. The French and Indians usually didn’t even live in the same communities in the first place. What I’m saying is that the French and the Indian nations opened bilateral relations, as people living close to each other typically do, and this required them to learn each other’s language, or at least a common language. You seemed to be under the misconception that the French had forced the Indians to use French, and that is inaccurate. Some Indians did learn it, but some French learned aboriginal languages, including Huron which was at the time already the lingua franca in the Great Lakes region. (The decline of Huron as a major language, of course, is largely due to their defeat at the hands of the Iroquois and subsequent displacement, rather than due to the increase in influence of French.)

    Even today, if you (general you) wanted, you could still move to Quebec and refuse to establish bilateral relations with the francophone majority. Speak only English (or whatever language) with those who’ll speak English to you, and ignore the rest. Of course, things have changed in the last 400 years: the Quebec government will still ask you to pay taxes even if you’d like to ignore it. Where you and I differ is that I don’t think the Quebec government, whether Quebec is a Canadian province or an independent country, should encourage you doing this.


    February 23, 2010 at 8:07 am

  16. “[Who spends their time clicking those stupid “thumbs up/thumbs down” icons all the time ?…]”

    I’ll take the heat on a handful of them. ;)


    February 23, 2010 at 10:06 am

  17. I just gave you a thumb down for that.


    February 23, 2010 at 11:20 am

  18. I gave myself a thumbs down as well :(


    February 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

  19. Tom Friedman : man of science and of exceptional mentality.



    February 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm

  20. and run profiles….

    yeah, that’s the ticket.


    February 23, 2010 at 7:15 pm

  21. re – mr. friedman

    mr ecoliberal lives in a 10,000 sq ft pile with a carbon footprint equal to or larger than al sasquatch gore.*

    *if you don’t count the tavel by private jet.

    nyuk nyuk nyuk.


    February 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm

  22. Beautiful, I thought. Just when you begin to lose faith in America’s ability to fall for absolutely anything—just when you begin to think we Americans as a race might finally outgrow the lovable credulousness that leads us to fork over our credit card numbers to every half-baked TV pitchman hawking a magic dick-enlarging pill, or a way to make millions on the Internet while sitting at home and pounding doughnuts— along comes Thomas Friedman, porn-stached resident of a positively obscene 114,000 11,400 square foot suburban Maryland mega-monstro-mansion and husband to the heir of one of the largest shopping-mall chains in the world, reinventing himself as an oracle of anti-consumerist conservationism.

    Where does a man who needs his own offshore drilling platform just to keep the east wing of his house heated get the balls to write a book chiding America for driving energy inefficient automobiles? Where does a guy whose family bulldozed 2.1 million square feet of pristine Hawaiian wilderness to put a Gap, an Old Navy, a Sears, an Abercrombie and even a motherfucking Foot Locker in paradise get off preaching to the rest of us about the need for a “Green Revolution”? Well, he’ll explain it all to you in 438 crisply written pages for just $27.95, $30.95 if you have the misfortune to be Canadian.

    yes, but at least he’s blessed with an “exceptional mentality”. That’s his carbon offset.


    February 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm

  23. VINCENT:

    First, let me congratulate you on the Voltaire reference; Bartlett’s Quotations is a wonderful reference source.

    Now, as to the more substantive (and I use the term advisedly in this context) issues raised in your recent posting, I shall forthwith attempt to offer a perspective I hope you may find elucidating.

    When I was born in to this wicked world, I received no assurance, neither express nor implied, that I would be spared the admittedly unpleasant but utterly survivable experience of being “offended” by something which one or more of my senses might one day perceive. In this regard, I have come to realize I was evidently deprived of a guarantee which was bestowed upon an ever-increasing number of my brethren. Therefore, I can well understand how a violation of one’s “right” not to be offended would itself be offensive-a compounded offense, if you will. In as much as I have been guilty of the aforementioned transgression upon the birthright of yourself and others who have been similarly blessed, I do unconditionally apologize.


    February 24, 2010 at 5:19 am

  24. RAMAN:

    My dearest “Raman”:

    I was so pleased to read how instructive you find my submissions. I too wish your grandfather had died, but what is past is past Raman. All we can do now is hope that fortune will smile upon you in the future.

    Oh, yes…apropos of nothing Raman, delayed gratification for sarcastic effect is all well and good however one must be careful that delay does not become denial.


    February 24, 2010 at 5:43 am

  25. OK I admit he may not be the right messenger, but the message is correct….by the way James, when did Friedman get elected to the National Academy of Sciences? I hadn’t heard the news until you reported it.


    February 24, 2010 at 8:41 am

  26. as far as I know Edward he’s never been elected to the NAS nor been the lead author of and IPCC report. (perhaps you were getting him confused with Richard Lindzen or John Christy), which is why I didn’t report it. If there’s ever an National Academy of Mediocre Posturing Hypocrite Journalistic Hacks however, I think his leadership chances would be nothing to sneeze at.


    February 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm

  27. I think they call it the Pulitzer Prize, and he’s already won it 3 times.

    I don’t usually agree with Mr. Freedman — his stance on invading Iraq was shameful in my view, but he has a quirky way of making his point. In this case the point was that the idea of Climate Change doesn’t live or die based on what at worst can be called the appearance of impartiality by a handful out of thousands of researchers who believe our frenetic fossil fuel consumption is harming the environment in ways that will come back to haunt us.


    February 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm

  28. …or Mr. Friedman (apparently his evil twin).


    February 24, 2010 at 2:24 pm

  29. I didn’t realize there was a Pulitzer Prize for achievements in atmospheric and earth science until you just reported it.

    Only shameful on Iraq was he? I thought that U.S. journalism’s largest untreated hemorrhoid had never met a U.S. war of aggression he didn’t like:

    You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too…


    February 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm

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