02.23.2019 03:55 PM

Is Maxime Bernier a racist?

Is Maxime Bernier a racist?

It’s a fair question. For months, the leader of the nascent People’s Party of Canada has been giving us every indication that he just might be. So, let’s examine the available evidence, shall we?

On his Twitter feed, in interviews, in speeches, Bernier doesn’t often stray from red-meat conservative stuff. He’s for pipelines, he’s against supply management. He’s opposed to carbon taxes, he’s for tax cuts.

The usual. You could picture Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer saying a lot of the same things. In many respects, Bernier is Scheer, albeit with a better jawline and a superior fashion sense.

But it’s on race, generally – and immigrants and refugees and non-whites, specifically – that Max Bernier truly distinguishes himself. Over and over and over, Bernier’s words strongly suggest that, well, he just doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t look like him. It’s become a pattern, and the pattern has become impossible to ignore. It is unsettling.

At the outset, it should be said – and this writer has been saying it for thirty-plus years – that it is in no way racist to oppose increased levels of immigration, or accommodating more refugees. Those are legitimate topics for debate.

It is the way in which those subjects get debated, and described, that becomes problematic. And Max Bernier – because of the words he chooses, and those with whom he chooses to associate himself – is now indisputably piloting the same dark waters previously charted by the likes of Donald Trump and David Duke.

In fact, Maxime Bernier has separated himself, entirely, from the Canadian mainstream body politic. He isn’t shy about it: it’s his unique selling proposition.

• He calls diversity “nonsense” – and says he is the only politician who is “attacking” it. That’s certainly true.

• He says housing is costly in Vancouver and Toronto “because most immigrants move to these cities.”

• He declares that he is against “pandering to ethnic voting blocs” above a picture of a Chinese-Canadian woman.

• He told a Liberal MP, who happens to be black, that “you think the world revolves around your skin colour.”

• He regurgitates code words long favoured by the racist Right – ethnic “ghettoes,” “extreme multiculturalism,” “little tribes,” “cultural balkanization,” “the cult of diversity,” and so on.

• He says Canada should only let in people who accept “basic Western values” – which is nomenclature long deployed by the far Right to mean only white, European culture.

• He says there should be a “debate” about whether “there is too much immigration.” He thinks there is.

• He says that “extreme multiculturalism” promotes things like Pakistani independence – and Pakistani independence “led to one million deaths.”

A lot of his propagandizing is deliberately imprecise. And, it should be said, there is no known photo of Mad Max Bernier in a Klansman’s robes, cheerily setting a cross alight in a farmer’s field. He knows where the line is, and he is generally careful not to wander too far beyond it.

Until two weeks ago, that is.

Two weeks ago, B’nai Brith – a group that has advocated for human rights, and Canadian Jews, for more than a Century – issued a report on one of the folks who helps to lead Max Bernier’s feeding political party, and actually acts as its spokesman. His name is Martin Masse.

“Top Bernier Advisor Defends Nazi Sympathizers, Promotes Conspiracy Theories,” B’nai Brith headlined their report, and it was a doozy.

“An independent investigation by B’nai Brith Canada revealed that Masse has either made or supported a bevy of statements that may foment anti-Semitism, misogyny, and racism,” they wrote of Masse, who they described as “a long-time friend and advisor to [the People’s Party] leader, Maxime Bernier.”

Among B’nai Brith’s findings about Masse:

• He has called Zionism “just another fancy justification for killing and displacing Palestinians.”

• He defends neo-Nazis like convicted Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, and said that former French president Jacques Chirac “was controlled by notorious Jewish organizations.”

• He has published claims that LGBTQ groups simply want to establish “their own tyranny.”

• He has dismissed equality measures as laws favouring “femi-fascists.”

• He has said that Israel and the United States are to blame for terror attacks against them.

And what has Maxime Bernier called Martin Masse? Well, according to a CBC report about the creation of the People’s Party, Bernier regards Masse as his “top policy advisor,” a co-founder of his political party, and a close friend.

So, when he was asked by B’nai Brith to remove Martin Masse from his party, what did Maxime Bernier do?

He said no. He refused.

Is it necessary, at the end of all this, to label Maxime Bernier a racist? Do we really need to prove that he is a telegenic bigot who panders to the worst in people?

No. By his words, and by his deeds, we all know who Maxime Bernier is.


  1. Derek Love says:

    I dont know if he’s an actual racist, but he most certainly is an opportunist of the worst kind. In this case, I think his “brain trust” thinks xenophobia is a vote getter in certain parts among certain people.

    Full disclosure, I personally bought into his Libertarian-Lite Kool Aide during the CPC leadership race and marked him my 1st choice on my ballot (Scheer 3rd)…. my bad.

    Seeing his actions and behaviour since his loss, I’m of the mind now that the CPC is better off without him or his supporters from the fringe.

    Is he a racist? I dunno, but I do figure on him being politically irrelevant after this Fall’s election.

    • Des says:

      I commented this a couple of Warren posts ago that I’m sure as shit glad that he’s not the leader. Yes, I personally had Scheer as 1 and I had Bernier as 4. The reason why I had him at 4 was because I knew he was popular but didn’t think he could lead based on simply an online following. When it came down to the final ballot I thought I would be happy with either choice. Then, in the following days after, my position was VALIDATED. Man, was I happy. Hell, I had Brad Trost ahead of him at 3. Lisa Raitt was #2. Lisa is an amazing parliamentarian. I’d have her as leader any day too.

      We would be polling (and I don’t take as much heed in polling as others do) at like 20% with Max’s folks at HQ on Albert Street. They would be pushing all the wrong buttons (as they are on this obstruction of justice scandal) and running on an identity narrative. Sure, that’s a conservative position, but one to call out when it needs to be called out on. But, they would be so focused it that people like Michael Cooper who is a good interrogator wouldn’t be on the justice committee. Scheer has put together a team that fits. That issue is not to be focused on from a policy perspective. Sure, Scheer has a position of denying funding to universities that don’t endorse free speech. But, this is a position I totally support. Just look at the NDP base. They’re all 18-23 year old Bernie bros ie. university undergrads who believe anything their social science professors tell them.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      You can bet the farm on your last sentence.

    • BrentL says:

      Interesting. I am a traditional CON voter, but voted LIB last election as I felt Harper was becoming a dictator, and disliked some of the things he was doing (i.e. omnibus bills, CPP changes). I joined the CPC and voted for Maxime as first choice at the leadership convention, and Scheer as fourth. As we now know, if it wasn’t for the dairy cartel, Max would have won.
      Since then I have join the PPC, and I am a board member of my local EDA. Why?
      Maxime’s policies (no corporate bailouts, changing the equalization payment formula, using the constitution to force build a pipeline, etc) spoke to the way I think.
      Scheer on the other hand, seems to be coming more like Trudeau every day. I don’t want a “Trudeau -lite ” PM. I want a PM with traditional CON values. I don’t want an PM who panders to every group out there in order to win a popularity contest (election). I want an PM who has conviction in his policies, even though not all will be fully accepted or appreciated.

      • Edward Norland says:

        Bernier does not have traditional Conservative or conservative values. The old Progressive Conservatives did things like fight apartheid. Even Harper’s Conservatives didn’t act on their worst instincts on diversity. Bernier by contrast is an underpowered intellectual wanna-be who has callously seized upon garbage ideas to try to generate headlines and still a portion of the Conservative base. He will fail because most Canadians aren’t racists.

  2. Locke Duncan says:

    Max has responded to these allegations and refuted them then and still. The arguments made here are one sided, slanted hard to the left fellas. I think more of the same Ol is what ya want in your politics, I can’t believe anything a liberal or conservative says any longer. To much corruption and the author is part of the problem. Good luck in your continuous slander campaign. Karma sir is a bitch.

    • Housevader says:

      Look, we need to prop Bernier UP as much as possible. Why? Duverges Law / Strategic Voting.

      If you believe in Indigenous self-government, [Applause]
      If you believe in the promise of a 2nd majority Wilson-Rayboald government [Light Clapping]
      I mean…If you believe in the promise of a 2nd majority Trudeau government [Applause]…
      It is imperative that you stop trying to drive a wedge between the Tories and the princi-pale(d) Libertarians.

  3. JamesHalifax says:

    I get leery any time someone brings up the racist card. It certainly sounds like Max’s buddy has some issues, but the label is thrown around so often you have to look twice, then look twice again. Look at some of the parties in Europe who are gaining support from folks who don’t like to see the Muslim grooming gangs abusing young girls. Their opponents are labelling them as racists. So apparently, wanting to protect girls from Rape gangs of Pakistani origin means you are a racist.
    Look at Tommy Robinson of the UK. He’s been jailed on trumped up charges, castigated, physically attacked, and pilloried by the media. The public however, loves him and appreciate what he is doing. He is in no way a racist, but whenever his name comes up, it is always attached to labels like ‘|far right” or neo-nazi.

    I think we need to save these terms for folks who deserve them. |Otherwise, a racist is just someone winning an argument against a liberal. |(as the saying goes|)

    As an aside, I never really understood the reason for anti-semitism. There are white jews, Mediterranean jews, and even sammy davis junior jews…….anyone can belong to a religion.

    I was always curious; but never surprised, when I spoke with folks and the people who seemed to hate stephen Harper the most were the same groups who seemed to hate Jews the most.

    Very telling.

  4. Steve T says:

    Interesting comments above. I was a CPC member who put Raitt first, Bernier second, and Scheer third.

    To be honest, I wasn’t happy when Scheer won, mainly because of the pandering to the Eastern supply-management lobby. However, in hindsight, I realize what a myopic approach that was. Watching how Bernier has handled his new party is very telling, for the reasons you set out Warren.

    I am now an active member of our local CPC riding association (EDA), and we just had our election-readiness meeting yesterday. Sure there was a lot of talk about Trudeau, but there was also talk about Bernier. We all agreed that we need to be very careful to distinguish ourselves from his party, and also not spend much time discussing “red meat” topics. We need to promote a positive set of alternative policies; not a divisive fear-mongering manifesto.

  5. Karl-Milton-Marx-Friedman says:

    It is your moral duty as the husband of a Liberal Party member to compliment and support Bernier; here are some talking points from HQ:

    – Try to see this from Bernier’s perspective; a mark of true intelligence.

    – The hit job against Bernier’s associate has merit if you conflate Zionism with Judaism, and I’m sure words can be taken out of context. Or you want to police opinion in the Rest of Canada in English differently from French Quebec. But obviously it’s partially a hit job by the Tories via B’nai Brith designed to consolidate 300K Jewish Canadian votes against the PPC.

    – Racism and cultural protection are on a spectrum. Anyone will tell you that the French language is protected in Quebec by prejudicing that dominant north American language (you know, the other one, not Spanish…) in everything from career progression to signage. Now to some that’s racism others that’s cultural protection/engineering. So Bernier tries to argue there should be no cultural groups, but instead there should be moderate assimilation (perhaps generationally imposed) which is consistent with Quebec nationalism i.e. cultural groups need to prejudice other groups in subtle ways to protect their own language or traditions via political power; otherwise face the consequences of assimilation: for Eastern European immigrants from the 1920s, that means only perogies their have survived. Your charge of racism is another person’s cultural protection.

    – Assimilation and multiculturalism are on their own spectrum as well: the critique
    against Multiculturalism is a Quebecois centric one, after all Paul Yusyk (Ukrainian Canadian Senator!) crafted Multiculturalism in response to the Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission, to say, why can’t my Ukrainian community get language funding?

    – Pierre Trudeau entrenched Multiculturalism in ’71 in an abstract form without true teeth behind it (like Father like Son) to diffuse Quebec nationalism…same with abstract agreement around First Nations in the ’90 – ’10. Never give away anything concrete though Obvious to you, I should hope.

    – Then multiculturalism policy was used to grant Federal funding for cultural events, in what kinda looks like slush funds for a particular political party; which Bernier decried. He didn’t complain under Harper’s govt when the Tories copied the slush fund model to great effect since ‘immigrants are typically conservative’

    – Too bad the Liberals own that vote, suckas! Game theory, chase the multicultural vote in ROC and do the opposite in Quebec.

  6. BrentL says:

    On one hand you say “this writer has been saying it for thirty-plus years – that it is in no way racist to oppose increased levels of immigration, or accommodating more refugees. Those are legitimate topics for debate.”
    But at the same time you put Max down by saying, “He says there should be a “debate” about whether “there is too much immigration.” He thinks there is.” Debating immigration is not a sign of being a racist.
    Max supports immigration, but he thinks the Government is not able to properly support, and absorb into our cultural mosaic, the current number of immigrates. He proposes going from the current 350k, back down to the 250k of a few years ago. Let’s face it, privately sponsored immigrants aside, it is very costly to the government (i.e. taxpayers) to support immigrants. Charity begins at home first, and once we solve the outstanding problems here (health care, safe drinking water on reserves, etc) then we can increase immigration levels.

    • Fred from BC says:

      ” Debating immigration is not a sign of being a racist.”

      Until you try it, and they start screaming “RACIST!” at you…

      ‘Progressives’ are the most accepting and tolerant people out there (just ask them, they’ll tell you) until you express an opinion that differs from their own in any way.

  7. Miles Lunn says:

    As more of a Red Tory, my first choice was Michael Chong and although I knew he had no chance, I think that is the direction the party needs to move long term. Lisa Raitt was my second while my third was Erin O’Toole. I was originally planning to put Maxime Bernier third, but he fell to eighth and Scheer was seventh so my final ballot so counted towards Scheer. For Bernier I knew he was a bit of a loose cannon, but my concern was more libertarianism wouldn’t sell amongst the general public. Only when government gets way bigger than the optimal level can you run on dramatically reducing it and win and we aren’t at that point now. Thus I put him eighth more because I didn’t think he was electable.

    After seeing what has transpired, I think the party really dodged a bullet. This guy would be a disaster and in many ways and is like Tim Hudak in Ontario who in an easily winneable election did horrible due to stupid policies only worse. I am not sure if Scheer is the right choice, but at least with him I think the party can hold what they have now and make some minor gains. Whether they can gain enough to win or not, is tough to say. In some ways Maxime Bernier seems to be more sour grapes and puts Scheer in a tough spot.

    Scheer can move towards the centre to appeal to the Liberal/Tory swing voters, but then risks a split on the right with the more ideological elements going for Bernier’s PPC. Or Scheer can pander to the more right wing elements to keep the PPC in low single digits, but ensure the moderates stay with the Liberals and the Tories get stuck in the low 30s. And I think that is what Bernier wants, otherwise he is a sore loser and if he cannot be in charge he wants to ensure Scheer never becomes PM.

    As for whether Bernier is a racist or not, I am not sure he feels passionate on those issues, but certainly he has no problem with people who are racists and that is a problem. Simply not being a racist yourself is not good enough, one needs to have no tolerance for those who are racist rather than see them as having legitimate opinions. One can still criticize our immigration levels without being racist. Personally I support more immigration overall, but I believe we should find a way to encourage more to move to smaller cities and rural areas while fewer to the bigger cities as the large metropolitan areas have too many people in general overall while our country as a whole has lots of space so we need a much bigger population but more evenly spread out.

    • Ms. Platt says:

      So what you are saying is that we should shove the immigrants “out of sight, out of mind”? They want to come here because of the cities and the prosperity/safety we have to offer. Some people could label your statement above as racist. How does that make you feel?

      • Miles Lunn says:

        I don’t necessarily see this as racist and not out of sight, just our population is overall unevenly distributed and we should find ways for both Canadians and non-Canadians to encourage more to settle in rural areas and smaller centres. Atlantic Canada has a real problem with lots of young people moving westward so trying to attract more people to come there could help reverse this decline. In fact many premiers in this region have asked for the provincial nominee to be increased so they can get more immigrants. As for big cities, I think high prices just in general will act as a deterrent to people moving there as lets face it for many people Vancouver and Toronto are not affordable.

  8. Mark U. says:

    Sure, and the Liberal Party hand-picked Karen Wang. There is a mutually reinforcing dynamic between European racialism and Asian and African racialism. All of it is wicked. Pound for pound, there is as much of it in the Liberal Party as anywhere else. After all, your party is working around the clock trying to subtly demonize Aboriginals to take the wind out of Wilson-Raybould’s sails.

  9. JamesHalifax says:

    Warren, please write a letter to Marc Garneau. Tell him it’s time to take a shot at the leadership.

    Let’s dump the intellectual lightweight who has his head in the proverbial clouds, and get a guy who has been walking with the actual stars.

    They don’t let stupid people be astronauts. I wish we held the same high standards for our Prime Ministers.

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