I found this op-ed from J. J. McCullough in the Washington Post on Canada’s bilingualism interesting. Here’s a snippet:
The conservative publisher Ken Whyte wrote a masterful and much-shared essay in the Globe and Mail last week, coolly debunking the conventional wisdom that speaking French provides an invaluable electoral edge to any would-be prime minister. What actually matters, Whyte noted, is whether the candidate is from Quebec.
The French-speaking province “isn’t attracted to bilingual leaders from outside Quebec,” he wrote — what Quebeckers want is a “favorite son.” Citing a half-century of precedent, Whyte identified two paths to winning Parliament: a Quebecker party leader who loses western Canada but wins Quebec and Ontario, or a non-Quebecker who loses Quebec but wins everywhere else.
“The record of Quebeckers in the west is at least as dismal as the record of non-Quebeckers in Quebec,” he concluded, so the two strategies are mutually exclusive.
Despite decades of good faith effort on the part of the Canadians and tremendous progress, it continues to be the case that Anglophones dominate Francophones in Canada economically, socially, and politically. However one tries to rationalize it, the median income of Anglophones remains higher than that of Francophones. That is true in every country in the world in which multiple languages are spoken—speaking a minority language means second class status. It is true in Switzerland. It is true in Sweden.
The main impediment to advancement of the “Quebeckers” is their insistence on conducting their business in French while the rest of the world is adopting English.