Language chief criticizes VANOC

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:42 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Canada’s Official Languages Commissioner blamed the Vancouver Olympic committee for mismanaging bilingualism at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“Most of the difficulties encountered were due to VANOC officials having insufficient knowledge or a misunderstanding of the official languages requirements, to which they were bound by the multiparty agreement," said Graham Fraser in a report released on Tuesday.

“Generally speaking, the French language enjoyed good visibility during the Olympic and Paralympic Games; however, the Games also had failures that overshadowed its successes,” he wrote.

Fraser said 38 of the 46 complaints received were about the lack of French-Canadian culture in the Feb. 12 opening ceremony. He said VANOC did not provide a post-Games report, so the actual number of bilingual volunteers is unknown. Fraser’s staff found several instances in which bilingual volunteers were not assigned to duties requiring bilingualism.

Fraser said VANOC did a good job with its bilingual website, venue signage and public address announcements. He said it was hard to find a French version of the souvenir program.

The “French aspect” was “virtually non-existent” on the British Columbia leg of the torch relay,

“Particularly in Coquitlam’s Maillardville, in Metro Vancouver, which has had a dynamic French-speaking community for 100 years,” Fraser wrote.

Ottawa gave VANOC $7.7 million in September 2009 for bilingualism. Only $3.4 million of the $5.3 million translation bureau budget was spent.

bob.mackin@sunmedia.ca


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