Canadians of French descent speak French almost exclusively, unless they happen to live in predominantly English-speaking parts of Canada. In la belle Province
, French is required by law for public signs, including signs posted publicly by private individuals or businesses. The province of New Brunswick is the only province which is officially bi-lingual. Prior to 1759, the French were roughly divided between New France and Acadia. The English took over Acadia at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1713). Most of the inhabitants refused to swear allegiance to King George II, and the Brits had so much trouble with the Acadians, that in 1755, about 12,000 of them, those resident in what became Nova Scotia, were deported to Louisiana. Anyone familiar with the pronunciation of Acadien
in French will understand why those people, now residents of the United States, came to be known as "Cajuns." The remainder of the inhabitants of l'Acadie
became, eventually, residents of New Brunswick.
Nationally, Canada is officially a bilingual nation. Anyone who wants to be PM had better speak both languages. By an informal tradition, the Liberal party has usually offered an Anglophone candidate, followed by a Francophone candidate. But no matter the party, any candidate for the office of PM had better speak French. Recently, there was the bizarre spectacle of the PM, Stephen Harper, who speaks bad schoolboy French, actually speaking French better than his opponent, Stephan Dion (then, but no longer the leader of the Liberal Party) spoke English. As bad as Harper's French was, Dion's English was even worse.
There is constant conflict between the two cultural identities as you call them. There were bloody uprisings in the mid 1830s which were repressed with military force in both Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Québec respectively), and with particular brutality in Lower Canada. The British North American Act reorganized the provinces, and Upper Canada became Canada West while Lower Canada became Canada East. At that time, the birth rate in Canada East was sufficiently high that even the much higher rate of immigration to Canada West was unlikely to offset it. Although the population of Canada West was greater, the population of Canada East was likely to outstrip it (as actually did occur, for a time). So the two provinces of what was then Canada formed a joint Parliament, with a guarantee of numerically equal representation from both provinces. At the time that probably looked good to les habitants
, but it actually tended to protect Canada West. The English-speaking people of Canada West were concerned that Anglophones in Canada East weren't going to get an education at public expense, so they made a deal under which they agreed to fund Catholic schools in Canada West, in return for a guarantee that public schools would be funded in Canada East. This didn't mean that those public schools would necessarily be Anglophone, but it did mean that Protestants would not be obliged to attend the schools which would have otherwise been run by the Catholic church.
The result is that today, there are two parallel school systems in Ontario, the Public District Schools and the Catholic District Schools. There has been heavy Italian, Portuguese and Latin American migration to Ontario, which means that the province has had a growing Catholic District Schools system to pay for. This has been deeply resented by Anglophone Canadians. It created a situation which plagued the Tories in the last provincial election, too. The leader of the Tories, John Tory (ironic, no?) put his foot in his mouth big time by attempting to capitalize on this, saying that the province should fund all religious school systems. That didn't please anyone, especially the Anglophones, who thought government shouldn't fund any religious schools. The press moved in like sharks in a feeding frenzy, and wouldn't let Tory talk about anything else. Tory not only lost the election to the Liberals, he lost his own seat, and now is no longer the leader of the Tories.
The main political differences are that within the province of Québec, there is a "fourth" political party. It's not exactly a national party, since its members are only elected from the province, but it still sends the third largest set of delegates to the Federal Parliament. Within Québec, its called le Parti Québecois
and Federally, it's known as le Bloc Québecois
. The Bloc has, at least notionally, been a coalition partner in the past, but most politicians from the rest of Canada are loathe to align themselves with the Bloc. Recently, the ADQ (Action Démocratique de Québec) has challenged the authority of the PQ within the province. Stephen Harper, at least theoretically, used the Bloc as his coalition partner when he first came to power, but that's always a morganatic marriage, and it didn't last even a year. Thereafter, he has bullied the Liberals into voting for his budgets. The Bloc gave him a list of five non-negotiable demands, so Harper has, incredibly, relied upon Liberal votes to support the Tory budgets, and he's gotten them, too, because the Liberals haven't been prepared to go to an election.
I sincerely doubt that you'll find any Canadians willing to describe for any good things which they experience from living with the two cultures. The Anglophones mostly wish les habitants
would all drop dead, and the sentiment is cordially returned. License plates on cars in la belle Province
read "Je me souviens," meaning "I remember," but more properly meaning "I haven't forgotten what you people have done to us."