Musings —02.23.2019 03:55 PM—
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.