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Lack of French at Olympic opening 'no big deal,' Moore says

Conservative Heritage Minister James Moore

DARRYL DYCK/Darryl Dyck/CP

Hot: French

Heritage Minister James Moore addressed the crowd in both French and English today at a ceremony marking the 45th anniversary of the Canadian flag.

This is important because Mr. Moore has set off a debate about the lack of French at the Games.

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He said in a recent interview that he was disappointed last Friday's opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games contained little French.

He had worked hard to ensure the Games were bilingual.

"We have invested great sums in order to make sure all Canadians feel welcome at the Games here," he said in an interview before the opening ceremony.

Indeed, the federal government contributed about $25-million for the opening.

However, at today's event, he said that it's time to "move on."

"It's no big deal," he said.

He said the opening ceremony happened four days ago and he has said his piece.

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He said his disappointment stemmed from the fact, he said, that the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee (VANOC) had reassured him that all would fine and good for the Games.

Not: Flag history

At the Olympic flag event today, Heritage Minister Moore was joined by one of the creators of iconic red and white maple leaf flag.

Patrick Reid was responsible for the design and production of the new flag. He said today he is one of the last of a very small team that actually created the flag.

And he recalled a wonderful story as to how the stylized maple leaf on the flag came to have 11 points.

An original maple leaf has 23 points and looks like a "blob", he said, acknowledging he had advocated for a stylized maple leaf, one that a child could draw.

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The original design had a 13-point maple leaf but that soon changed after he received a call late one evening in Nov. 1964.

The call was from the Prime Minister's Office, saying that Lester Pearson, the late Liberal Prime Minister, wanted to see what the flag looked like on a flag pole. Mr. Reid was told to have the flag up on the pole at 24 Sussex Dr., the Prime Minister's official residence, by the time Mr. Pearson woke up the next morning.

"We weren't ready," he said. And in order to make it all work, they lopped off two more points, bringing the points on the leaf down to 11.

"And I was amazed afterwards to find that schoolbooks in Canada (said) the reason we had 11 points was because of Canada and the 10 provinces … nothing could be further from the truth," said Mr. Reid.

"We got the … points in desperation at the last minute on the night of the 6th of November 1964," he said.

Prime Minister Pearson loved it.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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