JEUX DE LA FRANCOPHONIE

JEUX DE LA FRANCOPHONIE
La journaliste Diane Francis s’en prend une autre fois aux Jeux de la
Francophonie 2001 déclarant que ceux-ci ne seraient qu’un perte d’argent,
sans compter qu’à son avis ceux-ci devraient se dérouler aussi en anglais.

(Le texte anglais suivant est extrait du National Post du 19 septembre 2000)

Federal cash being wasted on Games of La Francophonie: Bucks
could be better used to support real athletes

Diane Francis

Ottawa has contributed $415,200 to the Canadian Olympic Association to
help send our team to Sydney, Australia.

But the federal government will spend at least $12.1-million next year on the
Games of La Francophonie, which will be held in Hull and Ottawa. The
two-week event in July, 2001, is held every four years to showcase third-rate
athletes who speak French. It also holds a few French-language cultural
contests such as storytelling, busking and street performing.

This is nothing new. In 1997, Ottawa contributed $2.4-million to the Games of
La Francophonie in Madagascar and gave only $615,000 to send athletes to
the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

While much of next year’s price tag of $12.1-million has to do with hosting the
event here in Canada, facts are Ottawa always pays inordinately more for
these games, even when Canada is not host. That’s because the Mulroney
government back in 1987 agreed to pay up to 30% of the costs and France
60% because most of the 55 countries who comprise the former French
Empire are thoroughly impoverished and couldn’t afford them.

Even worse are indications that the $12.1-million will swell exponentially as
Crown corporations and agencies will be pressed into subsidizing this effort.
So will corporations doing business with the feds. The total price tag is
supposed to be $34.3-million, but it will probably amount to twice that.

For instance, this spring Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
gave the Games of La Francophonie $350,000 to help house the 2,600 artists
and athletes.

(In 1997, foreign aid agencies were pressed into providing funds for Canada’s
share of the games — money spent on a show instead of on food, drugs and
other provisions.)

Next year in Ottawa-Hull, some 2,600 athletes are expected to compete in
just a handful of sports: track and field (men and women); basketball (women);
boxing (men); soccer (men); judo (men and women) and table tennis (men,
women and mixed). There will be track and field for disabled persons, too.
Participants will also be able to "go for medals" in singing, dancing,
story-telling, sculpture, painting, photography and literature (poetry). Busking
will be a demonstration event.

These games will be on top of the $7-million spent by the feds in 1999 on
various festivities to celebrate the Year of the Francophonie including a few
million to host games in Memracook, N.B.

Then, to add insult to injury, the Parti Quebecois is now insisting that only
French should be used. In March, Louise Beaudoin, Quebec’s Minister of
International Relations, who is responsible for La Francophonie, was quoted
in newspapers as saying: "The principles state that French is the official
language of the Games of the Francophonie," she said. "We’ve said from the
beginning the Games will not be bilingual."

The feds are insisting that the games be bilingual with athletic events held in
both languages for the sake of athletes and audiences. But cultural activities
will be French only.

Clearly, the games are politics and a waste of money.

The decision to create them was made by the heads of state of the
Francophonie at the Quebec City Summit in 1987. Games are held every four
years in a member country, alternating between countries of the North and of
the South.

That’s when "Canada" stepped up to the subsidy plate. "Canada" is
also
represented by Quebec and New Brunswick, which are each allowed to
pretend they are heads of state of francophonie "countries." So far, three of
these games have been held. The last one, in Madagascar, was so
mis-managed by the local government that the World Bank had to step in to
stop the extravagance because the bank holds the country’s purse strings. If
that had not occurred, Canadian taxpayers would have been on the hook for
30%, or $4.3-million, instead of the $2.4-million spent.

By contrast, there’s little support from Ottawa for the anglophone
Commonwealth Games, which received $122,000 from Sport Canada this year,
according to the government’s Web site.

All this is clearly discriminatory, in my opinion. Ottawa is disproportionately
rewarding a particular group more than others on the basis of language. Even
though officials say that non-francophone athletes are allowed to compete,
the fact is only a handful do.

It is also too expensive. The cost of next year’s Games of La Francophonie
will be equivalent to 25% of the entire $52-million sports budget handed out
this year by Ottawa. That is the total spent building hockey arenas or
subsidizing kids and athletes all across the country.

It is all silly and unfair, coming at a time when funds are diminishing for real
athletes.

NDLR – L’adresse électronique de Diane Francis est dfrancis@nationalpost.com