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Canada's French-English strife flares at Olympics

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The more things change the more that stay the same.

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The more things change the more that stay the same.

Or as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, 'plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose'.

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Yes, Celine Dion is one the greatest French-Canadian stars, ever!

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One problem I have with the French-Canadian whining is that Quebec makes a big effort at avoiding English signs. Are they now just trying to get the Quebecois angry for their next referendum. BTW, I never liked Celine Dion.

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I never like the Olympics...

No, waitaminute, I love the Olympics, especially the complaining.

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Hey, I'm sure a few of the Mounties who came out with the Canadian flag were french!

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Get with the programme Francophile guys, and speak English : The World Language! I'm sure most of these Quebecois can read/speak English quite well anyway.

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Pure political posturing. Or perhaps he's miffed because he couldn't find a French-speaking waiter at a Chinese restaurant in Richmond.

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this whole topic is one of the things I dont miss from back home.

More substance & less whining is what I wud prefer but we tend to get the the latter more

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Do French Canadians act like the French from France?

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What a crock! You know darn well that if the Olympics were held in Quebec (especially Quebec City), for example, they would do their darndest to have NO English whatsoever and use the Olympics as a podium to preach about Quebec as its own nation. At the very least they'd be sure to bury the English under heaps of French.

Compared to other Olympics, where French is still announced at all venues, etc., I'd say they're doing a good job of putting in MORE.

Like I said, though; this is a big platform, and the separatists are using it as a soap box to preach to the world that they are being wronged. It's just whining on a grand scale.

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Fortunately no, goddog, they generally don't.

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There's a reason French wasn't really used - it's a minor language. Why the Olympics still insist on using at all rivals why Latin is still taught in some schools. Quebecers, if you want to speak French, go to France! Oui?

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flaring strife? is that a slight exaggeration, perhaps?

I wonder what the writer of this headline would call the bottle throwing "spat" during speed-skating practice. http://www.ctvolympics.ca/short-track-skating/news/newsid=41665.html#bottle+throwing+spat+heats+asian+rivalry

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I read a lot of these comments with amazement, many of the comments here about "go live in France" and "minority language" etc... are coming from the same people who make comments on Japanese inability to speak English and often say remarks like "They get more then 6 years of English and then still can' understand anything"!

Well I ask the question in a country (Canada) that over a quarter of the populations first language is French and that french is taught in school for at least 6 years if not more and where French services and TV programing is available, none of these people can speak more then 2 words of French, as apposed to Quebecois most can speak English just fine but choose not to as is there right!

But go to Quebec city as a tourist and English or not they will treat you beautifully! As apposed to going out west and try speaking French and get ready to be insulted!

The thing that most western Canadians don't seem to remember is that the opening of the west was paid in large by the east and at that time the 2 largest contributors were Quebec and Ontario, So I think Quebec is well in its rights to request respect and equal time for French!

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Tarento;

I could take the same view, If you want to speak English, Chinese, Korean, Punjabi etc... as I understand they are the most spoken languages in Vancouver and in most places you can even get Government services in all these!

Then you should all go back to England, China, Korea and India And give what is Canada back to the native people!!!

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This is EXACTLY why most English speaking Canadians hate the French. They cry and whine about everything. I was shocked at how much French there was IN the opening ceremonies and how it was spoken BEFORE English. Wah wah cry. The olympics is in BC where almost NO ONE speaks French - Chinese speakers outnumber the French speakers. Honestly Canada get rid of this "We have two official languages" crap as we don't. English. That's it. Let them seperate.

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limboinjapan, a thoughful post. Thank you. One similarity with France is that most French can speak English but choose not to as their right.

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limboinjapan: You are right about one thing for sure. The majority French-Canadians can speak English quite well but people whose first language is English can only parler francais un peu. However, it sounds like there was a lot of French used in the opening ceremony so I don't know why they are complaining. They do also have to consider that the Olympics are taking place in a city where most people speak English.

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According to the French, the Quebecois don't really speak French anyway.

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I bet that the same people complaining about "not enough French", would be the same people complaining about "not enough English" in Japan (even though Japanese is the primary language here).

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I once asked a cashier at a Starbucks in Vancouver if they have baguettes. He asked, "What's a baguette?"

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The simple rule is that anybody who walks into this minefield is somebody who is looking for trouble. Doesn't matter if they are a French speaker or an English speaker. The separatist side is trying to use the Olympics to score some points, the same thing would have happened if the Olympics were in Quebec City, only in reverse. Been going on for decades, and assuming people don't become complete idiots and actually break things up, it will continue for decades.

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haoushokuhaki: I think you got that backwards the ones complaining about too much French in Canada are the ones who say ""not enough English" in Japan (even though Japanese is the primary language here)." When nearly 1/3 of Canada's populations primary language is French (we keep leaving out New Brunswick with nearly 27% and Ontario 11%)

Tarento; I rest my case about Western Canada! Even when I was living in California and New York they new what a "BAGUETTE" was! With 6 to 12 years of French classes and they don't even know that? After reading what you wrote NO Anglophone Canadian should ever have the right to criticize Japanese English ability!

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GJDailleult; 100% agree as long as the politician on both sides think they can gain a few points out of it and a few close minded hate monger feel they have some superior right, this will just keep going on and on. Thank goodness that most Canadians (and I include Quebecois in this) are level headed enough to ignore the jerks!

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limboinjapan: you haven't bothered to disclose where the Starbucks employee was from. Many people in Canada are from other countries; especially in Vancouver, AND not all Canadians get 6-12 years of French. A great many students these days are exempt, in fact, from studying French in school, so I don't think you should presume. Regardless, the Olympics are in Vancouver, where French is not spoken. I was impressed with the amount of French and Francophones in the Opening Ceremonies, and I'm genuinely puzzled at to what the critic wanted. If the Olympics were anywhere in Quebec - like smithinjapan said, you can bet there would be a very little amount of English being spoken. And thus the 'two solitudes'.

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The comments from the Heritage Minister was politically motivated even though he's from the Vancouver area. He was trying to save his ass because he approved millions of dollars to be spent on making the games bilingual. If he didn't complain first then you know the opposition party will lambast him and his party. Since VANOC is not a political party he figured they could take the blame of not utilizing the millions of dollars he threw at them. But truth be told, there is bilingual Olympic signage everywhere in Vancouver and Whistler. And on another note, French-immersion schools are getting more popular here than ever before.

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How did they decide to put French ahead of English (and above English on the signs) in the opening ceremony even though British Columbia is mostly English-speaking?

Was it a coin toss, or did the Francophones have some reason for being on top?

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I heard french before english translation during the opening cermony and now at each event. WOW !!! First time I seen Canadians complain about something. Very unusual !!!!!!!

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There is a joke in Vancouver, that it contains the world's longest bridge. The Knight St. bridge, they say, links China (Richmond) with India, the (Southern part of Vancouver City) where a huge Punjabi population lives.

Given that breakdown, French is a bit irrelevant that side of the Rockies. More people speak one of the 36 aboriginal languages in BC than speak French. Sorry to say, but it's the "laine-bleu" in Quebec whining again. What's new?

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French immersion is growing because you need to be bilingual to get a decent government job. I questions the 25% are native French speakers. Many of those will grow up in a bilingual house where both English and French are their first language.

And most folks from Quebec outside of Montreal and Quebec city speak crap English. Get out into the countryside and see for yourself.

As for the debate, Quebec has been crying since the birth of Canada. They had their chance, they lost the vote, their party blamed it on the immigrants (which to be honest probably HELP the number of French speakers increase) and here we are again. Why the heck should BC have to study French when no one uses it? Chinese would be much better in terms of jobs and whatnot. Get rid of the bilingual thing as we are not a bilingual country in terms of French and English. Many folks certainly are bilingual but the time has come to get rid of French being a national language, having the language police...

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Excellent points, tmarie, bang on the nail. Add to this that the official policy of the NATIONAL Gouvernement de Quebec amounts to linguistic apartheid and cultural ethnic cleansing. Try send your newly arrived immigrant kid to an English speaking school; it's against the law! The have a program to eliminate English from education and all other facets of public life. Vive Quebec Libre! (My astrolabe!)

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aedfed at 12:51 PM JST - 15th February

...perhaps he's miffed because he couldn't find a French-speaking waiter at a Chinese restaurant in Richmond.

Don't know if you can find an English-speaking waiter in Richmond! ...Interesting, I didn't know I'd see anyone here familiar with that area.

But seriously, as others have said, I don't see any reason to complain other than for political motives. If the signs are bilingual and Quebec has French broadcasting, what else are they asking for?

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What I didn't understand was why, at the opening ceremony, the names of the countries were written in French first, when it was obvious that the countries came out in English alphabetical order (apart from Greece and Canada, of course).

I'm not sure why Francophones in general get so defensive about using English. Spanish is spoken more widely but Spanish speakers don't get all worked up. The Dutch, Germans and Scandinavians' own languages are spoken in fewer places and they don't seem to have any problem with subtitled Hollywood movies.

I remember a French waiter in Nice was particularly nasty to a Chinese colleague of mine (in a Chinese restaurant, of all places), asking him why he couldn't order in French. My colleague is proficient in 4 languages but never found the time to fit a fifth in his studies. I had to help him order but didn't have the heart to tell him how rude the waiter was to him as he was having such a good time in France.

Having said all that, I do find the quebecois accent quite strange in a nice way. A French colleague once offended a Quebecois because he couldn't understand what he was saying and asked him to speak in French (obviously he didn't know this guy was from Quebec).

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I am far from a separatist and I believe in a united Canada, I am of mixed heritage (and when I say mixed be careful on the aboriginal remarks), but I do believe in the biculturalism of Canada and it seems that I at least took the time to learn about MY country!

The facts are if people think Quebec should leave Canada then it goes without saying that Quebec should get back what it gave in order to make Canada what it is today! That is (and you can check it if you like) in 1949 when English Canada wanted Newfoundland to joint Canada they pressured Quebec to give up a large part of what is now Labrador and to use Quebec's heritage fund (money the government had from large mineral rights and alcohol(prohibition was good for Quebec)) to pay of Newfoundlands dept in return for a great prosperous future! This great propensity never materialized and went the way of the cod. Ontario and Quebec who up to that point had been footing the bill for most of Canada's expansion thought that at least in the west sooner or later they would get their investment back but now all we hear from the west is how unfair it is to recognize Quebec as distinct and Ontario is privileged!

So if you think Quebec is to whinny and want it to leave then I hope you are ready to at least return the land it gave up and do remember that the St. Lawrence Seaway would be Quebec's to do with as it pleases!

And before accusing Quebec of linguistic or cultural apartheid read your HISTORY! The "English" Cities in Quebec that up until the laws in Quebec forced them to stop, had laws and rules forbidding French to be spoken or to live there (along with Catholics, Jews and other ethnic groups) not to mention the British estates in Vancouver that fought all the way to the supreme court in the 70's to try and preserve its "protestant of British decent only rules). So give me a break Quebec's laws may seem harsh but they are nowhere near as harsh as the laws they had to live with for more then 200 years! Before saying things look up your history Manitoba and Saskatchewan had laws not limiting French but outright making it illegal to speak or teach it and they also fought the repeal of these laws!

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FYI; French and English are the official languages of the Olympics and they tend to start with French ( out of respect to Pierre de Coubertin the founder or the modern Olympics) but on the occasion the alternate, a third language is added when the host country in not English or French speaking!

Again this is basic history learned in elementary school or at least high school!

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Visited Vancouver for about a month 10 yrs ago. Friends I met while I was up there explained to me that the "French" canadiens were all snobs who acted like a-holes when they travel outside of Quebec. Any truth to that?

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Sharpie; I think I made it clear to stay away from the first nations thing!

Unless you have first hand knowledge of how we ( well at least half my family) feel don't bring us into this!

PS. Cree is one of the Algonquin languages and would not make much difference to me but Innu (Montagnais) would be nice(_)!

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limbo, I like your responses. For me, it is all about politics. How can what a few people say about the imbalance between English and French equate to French-English strife? Having done a cultural exchange in Quebec, I can tell the world how incredible the Quebecois are as a people. I'm not talking about the politicians etc, who whether French or English, have their own agendas. I'm talking about the people. They are a nation. It is a great culture that is in danger of being sidelined and often times have to assert their position in Canada. That is where the posturing comes from. Sadly, many Anglo-Canadians take this as whining.

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biculturalism of Canada

Sorry what?? I don't know what part of Canada you're from but I'm from a MULTI-cultural Canada.

History? Sure. The French lost the war and England was being rather nice in allowing them to use their first language. Didn't happen a lot back then and certainly doesn't happen all that much now. Canada has bent over backwards for them. And just to add, I'm a quarter French Canadian and stick of the crying from the language police. If you look at how the French Candians treat English speakers and look at how they are with regards to English schools and whatnot it is shocking! More so when they cry about how THEY get treated. It is freaken BC!!

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MeanRingo; The saddest thing is that this whole English French thing was a total fabrication of the 60's and 70's! Prior to that the English (to put it lightly) speaking Irish and Scottish immigrants in Quebec were quite friendly with the French as they to could not go in to the "English zone" or get office job in banks or any other business owned by the "English"

The English, French conflict as we know it now was fabricated by special interest groups ( and powerful families) as a way to get and hold on to power! And that is still what we are seeing today in this, a way to keep power on both sides!

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When English-speakers start to become really uncomfortable at the amount of French they are seeing and hearing, the balance is just about right.

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Although I am of french-canadian heritage, I am so sick of french Canada's whining. It is never ending. I don't know what would make them happy, perhaps if the opening ceremony had been entirely in french without a single word of english that might have been enough? , -But no wait,- i expect they still would have found something to complain about, perhaps there would not have been enough french culture or french entertainers, - I know - maybe if the olympics had been held in quebec with the rest of the country footing the entire bill, but excluded in every other way , that might have been enough. THey seriously need to get over themselves, it is beyond tiresome. I thought the amount of french (language culture and artists) involved at the ceremonies was more than sufficient and tastefully done. However, I strongly believe that the the translation should have been in English first, not french. The. last time i checked Vancouver is located in BC, an English speaking -part of the country, and BC taxpayers are footing the majority of the bill for these olympics , not quebec. Ps and commenting to one of the earlier posts -a lot of other people built this country, besides french canada. Perhaps there should have been a nod to the CHinese as well who helped build the CPR over the rockies. -and there are many many others from all nationalities. as for the comment about Quebec taking their treasure with them, were they to leave, well i guess they could return all the billions of dollars they have received in transfer payments and take their share of the national debt too.

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Should Quebec separate from Canada? Fortunately, Canada is a federal state, and not a simple democracy. It is a constitutional democracy. The core idea of federations is that they have a tangible and legal reality that is more than the sum of their parts. It would be disastrous for constitutional negotiations to proceed on the premise that a province, if dissatisfied, can overthrow the state. No federation could possibly survive under such conditions. In federations, all serious matters are decided, not by the opinion of one half of any political party, or group, or province, but by the whole nation according to the law of the constitution. No province of Canada has the legal right to separate without the consent of the House of Commons, The Senate, and all the provincial Legislatures. Any other method constitutes a revolt against the government of Canada.

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Hey there Mr Limboinjapan

You seemed to have forgotten one thing in your equation on how if Quebec left they would require all they have put into making Canada back. That sounds like a great idea and while your at it you can get the goevernment of Quebec to cut the west a cheque for the billions upon billions of transfer payments that Quebec has been the beneficiary of. Not only that. Who gets the bulk of government funding for myriad of different things? You guessed it Quebec. Oh yeah one last thing....the sponsorship scandal. How many of billions were lost there?? All to Quebec based companies. I say this. Quebec needs to get passed the fact thatthey are "special". Pandering to Quebec has to stop!!!Will it in my life time? Not likely.

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To Concerned53.

You huitthe nail on the head my friend. I'm sick ofthe endless whining. James Moore, the Heritage Minister is looking at Stephen Harper's job. Why else would a politician with a riding in Vancouver pander to the minority french in this county. He's a butt kisser and is just looking to make in roads in Quebec on the backs of his Western Canadian electorate. I hope that the electorate in his riding rememberthis at election time and boot Mr. Moore's sorry ass out of Ottawa.

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Funny thing is of the scores of Canadians I know, only one is from Quebec and he hasn't lived there for ages. I always got the impression Quebecers were quite insular and didnt travel abroad (except to France, I hazard to guess) a much as the rest of Canadians. It is quite a interesting scenario the Canada has: the large minority stick to themselves in one region and are sore that they cant be independent so the shove it down the rest of the countries throat at every opportunity. Not much else to see here, move along...

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I switched to a French major in 1980 to try and get a job as a French as a Second Language teacher in Western Canada but all the 'real' French speakers from Quebec come over and snatched up all the jobs and that's how I ended up over here from '85 on as an English teacher. I also participated in French Immersion programs in Quebec during the referendum in 1980 and also studied in Paris in '82. The whole language snobbery thing was writ large: no matter how good your French was, you were still a loser as you weren't pure French. The French are kind of like the Japanese with their racial purity thing: if you ain't born French, you ain't French. My summation of all this is that most of the French are snobs and the Parisian French are even snobs over their less-pure Quebecois counterparts. I'm so tired of this that when I hear French spoken at the Olympic ceremonies it makes my blood boil. I dealt with this snobbery for years and it exists no matter what they say. The day they finally separate from Canada will be a tres bon day in my eyes. Vive la difference, my foot.

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The Vancouver Olympics? French spoken at home is like what, 5% for that region? If anything the second language for this Olympics should be Cantonese, either or Mandarin at this point.

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The thing that most western Canadians don't seem to remember is that the opening of the west was paid in large by the east and at that time the 2 largest contributors were Quebec and Ontario, So I think Quebec is well in its rights to request respect and equal time for French!

Are you for real?! Quebec has been a drain on Canada for decades and has practically held the country for ransom. Every time they don't get their way they threaten to leave. And when they make those threats they still don't give up on demanding things such as same currency, passport, resources, etc.

And let's not forget how many seats in Parliament they have and the political power they wield in the Senate. If anyone in Canada has a reason to separate it would be the West, particularly Alberta.

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Ah what a wonderful victim filled world we live in. What was it, 10 years ago that providing signers for the hearing impaired was all the rage? I didn't see one anywhere in the opening ceremony......and me, I didn't understand most of what the First Nation speakers were saying except the "Welcome..." part...where was my English translator then huh??

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