Not enough French at Olympic opening ceremonies, critics say
Some Quebecers say they feel slighted after watching the Olympic opening ceremonies in Vancouver Friday night, and hearing very little French during the event.
Astronaut Julie Payette, race-car driver Jacques Villeneuve and pop star Garou were in the spotlight, but critics say it wasn't enough.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest said he enjoyed the show that kicked off the Winter Games but was disappointed with the use of French and francophone performers.
"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."
On Monday, talk radio host Benoit Dutrisac had federal Liberal critic for official languages Denis Coderre as a guest on his show, and blasted the federal government.
"They don't give a damn about us. That's your Canada," Dutrisac said.
Coderre said he agreed that the ceremonies did not truly reflect the country.
"The world was watching us and we truly missed an opportunity to make sure to reflect what Canada is all about," he said.
Organizers of the event, including VANOC CEO John Furlong, are not apologetic.
"We chose to celebrate an international artist from Quebec," Furlong said, referring to Garou.
Furlong said he felt the event celebrated French language and culture with passion.
But some Francophones interviewed by CTV Montreal's John Grant said they felt left out of the opening ceremonies, which was the most-watched event in Canadian TV history with 13.3 million viewers.
"As a Quebecer, I can't say I felt included in that ceremony," one woman said.
A number of Quebec MNAs also expressed dissatisfaction with Friday night's ceremonies.
"It was a big disappointment and like everybody says in Quebec, it's hard to understand the motivation to put aside French in the way that was so outrageous," said Veronique Hivon of the PQ.
Sylvie Roy of the ADQ echoed those sentiments.
"Francophones are forgotten all too easily," she said.
With files from The Canadian Press