Maxime Bernier has had a busy year.
Starting out 2018 as a four time elected Conservative MP who has served as federal Minister within several departments of government, his association with the PC party imploded after a series of Trump-like tweets about multiculturalism and diversity got him in hot water with the head of his own party, Andrew Scheer.
Even Andrew Scheer, the head of a party which voted in a resolution to remove birthright citizenship from children born in Canada, thinks Mr. Bernier went too far.
Now Mr. Bernier has since gone on to announce the formation of a new party, The People’s Party of Canada, which he claims will be Libertarian and right of centre. Apparently, a party that wants to strip citizenship from first generation Canadians born to immigrants and refugees, just isn’t right of centre enough.
It’s as if we have learned nothing from the dangers of stomping on the principles of multiculturalism. It doesn’t matter that Mr. Bernier insists his views are not racist even though he uses the same sort of dog whistle politics that attracts racists like flies to feces.
He will, and is doing, exactly what political parties of it’s kind have done in the past. He has created an opportunity in the form of a political party for both closeted and loud and proud racists, to direct their misplaced anger at the most defenceless among us.
This is another crucial debate for the future of our country. Do we want to emphasize our ethnic and religious differences, and exploit them to buy votes, as the Liberals are doing? Or emphasize what unites us and the values that can guarantee social cohesion?
-Maxime Bernier “Why I Am Leaving the Conservative Party of Canada”
This isn’t about a political endorsement for or against Prime Minister Trudeau or the Liberal Party. What this is about however, is this persistent argument bandied about by right wing mouthpieces that respecting cultural or religious differences is somehow emphasising our differences. As if people who stand outside of mosques protesting (what exactly? Islam? Muslims?), needed Justin Trudeau’s help to emphasise their differences.
Like somehow recognizing the need for rules to ensure equitable hiring to counteract the years of inequity due to institutional racism, only serves to work against the ideals behind equitable hiring. This is basically the same spurious logic that would insist any party that supports respecting ethnic and cultural differences is buying votes verses emphasising what unites us.
If you don’t respect the ethnic or cultural differences of your citizens, how exactly do you expect to bring about this miraculous unity? Mr. Bernier, who exactly are you uniting with your “values” guaranteeing social cohesion?
Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn’t make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don’t make our society strong.
-Maxime Bernier “Twitter”
I have a lot of questions for Mr. Bernier. How do you make an argument against people rejecting “freedom, equality, tolerance and openness” while implying people who live in ghettos don’t want to integrate into society and weaken the social fabric?
Who exactly are these people he’s talking about who refuse “basic Western values.” Is he suggesting that the existence of a “Little Jamaica” or “Chinatown” is somehow anti-Canadian? Does “Little Italy” qualify as a ghetto? Is it crazy to assume that new Canadians who are figuring out their place in a new society would seek out the comfort of people who speak the same first language, and share the same faith or customs?
When you enter Canada, should you disavow all relationship to your culture, in order to integrate yourself into some White monolithic maple syrup identity of what it is to be Canadian?
As far as Western values go…does he know the history of the Western world’s exploitation of Black and Indigenous people’s across the world?
If Maxime Bernier fails in his bid to become the next Prime Minister of Canada (“If” because Doug Ford is running Ontario — who saw that coming?) somehow I have a feeling we will hear something very similar to the infamous words of another Quebecois politician, Jacques Parizeau whom, after losing a referendum to split Quebec from the rest of Canada, blamed “money and the ethnic vote.”
Mr. Bernier already believes both the Liberals and the PC’s are pandering to the ethnic minority for votes “by emphasising what divides us”, so the idea of him going there in a loss shouldn’t surprise at all.
Maxime Bernier’s stance on immigration, and his views on Canadian-ness or what/who is Canadian are so far, not very specific. One thing you can gather from what he’s expressed, as well as the support he’s inspired from anti-immigrationist elements in Canada is, as far as the “People’s Party” goes, if you aren’t a Christian Caucasian Canadian born citizen with English or French as a first language, you are very likely not invited to his party.
Unfortunately, you are just are not his kind of “people.”
Byron Armstrong is a freelance writer and lifelong Torontonian, raised in Jane-Finch and living downtown.