By Ahmad Khan
Maxime Bernier criticizes “Trudeau’s extreme multiculturalism” but is he turning hate into a political belief?
Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, stirred up a storm of controversy when he criticized Justin Trudeau of “extreme multiculturalism.” On Aug. 13 an article appeared on CBC that published a series of tweets from Bernier ….
“Trudeau’s extreme multiculturalism and cult of diversity will divide us into little tribes that have less and less in common. These tribes become political clienteles to be bought with taxpayer’s money and special privileges.”
The first question that comes to mind is what is a cult? And does this term have any positive connotation? One dictionary definition of a “cult” is a set of beliefs that only a small minority believe and the majority considers sinister.
Which majority is Bernier speaking of, or speaking to? Could this be dog whistle political wrangling intended to stir up people’s worst fears and exuberate prejudices?
Regarding his comment about minorities being “tribes” who can be bought with special privileges, is he accusing the government of corruption or nepotism? Or something worse? Is Bernier implying that the institutions of Canadian government are feeble?
One thing he seems absolutely clear about ideologically is the old adage of “Them vs us.”
He further tweeted, “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.”
Using abstract non-quantifiable, subjective terms while describing Western values is a common theme among the proponent of extreme assimilation and unconditional integration. To them acculturation is out of the question. Missing from this tweet was the historical context.
The fact that it was these exact values that resulted in internment camps for Japanese Americans in America, residential schools for the indigenous people in Canada, Apartheid in South Africa, and the systemic extermination of the native population of the Americas and Australia is beyond the point.
Bernier’s view will carry currency, especially for those who believe that societies that have contradicting values ultimately will have divided loyalties, and cannot function as a homogeneous unit. If these differences become extreme, Bernier suggests than social cohesion and societal consensus will not develop resulting in communities being divided against each other. Lorne Gunter, a former managing editor of the Alberta Report, and reporter with the Edmonton Journal, defended his views.
For Bernier diversity is good, however, divergence is not. Multiculturalism is good, as long as those cultures conform to certain codes of conduct, which are both defined and enforced by the dominant majority. Similar values and perhaps similar biology guarantee unity, and imposes automatic restraint on the definition of both assimilation and integration.
To Bernier internalization of values is the non-negotiable pre-condition for inclusion. This can mean the subjugation of minorities to the will of the majority, in not only visible outlook, but also cultural beliefs, societal attitudes, taste and preferences. Even articles of clothing are considered a statement and an unwillingness to conform to local culture.
On Aug. 22, John Duffy, founding principle at Strategy Corp, said on CBC Radio that this kind of racism could lead to the populism that’s apparent all over the world.
“So far conservative movement after conservative movement around the world has fallen into the hands of people and politicians who are advancing this xenophobic, borderline racist agenda of white nationalism and, so far, honorably, the Conservative Party of Canada has resisted this tendency.”
In a recent interview that was aired on CBC Radio on Sept. 21, Bernier attempted to explain his statement. He drew a comparison to Europe by pointing out that courtiers there were having challenges integrating new immigrants.
Bernier perhaps deliberately equated people forcefully displaced by war and aggression to those willing individuals who qualify for Canadian immigration through a global competitive point system.
Bernier has now legitimized his contempt at best and disgust at worst for minorities by bringing these views completely into the mainstream under the banner of his Peoples Party of Canada. It is precisely movements like these, under the veneer of populism and patriotism, that turn hatred into what Owen Jones, a columnist for The Guardian, called a political belief.