Maxime Bernier, Conservative Member of Parliament for Beauce – Quebec, sparked a conversation that is having an interesting effect on Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike. Some were quick to denounce his Twitter thread as racist, intolerant and divisive. Others found the topic worth exploring.
Bernier’s thread was based on “ever more diversity” or “extreme multiculturalism” as he called it. The issue he identified was a good one but he stopped short of identifying the root of the problem. Andrew Furey picked it up and managed to get a little closer but neither of them took it to its glorious end either by mistake or design.
“We’ve done a lot to redress those injustices and give everyone equal rights” Bernier says. Canada has certainly done that. A lot of people in Alberta since Bill 24, the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) Bill, and Canada since the Supreme Court decision regarding Trinity Western University, feel their religious freedom is under attack. The reaction to these two, among other things, has led to a backlash of religious groups becoming more involved in political organization. Some of these groups are organizing for the Conservative Party of Canada. Some of them are organizing for the United Conservative Party of Alberta.
“(D)oes being Canadian mean something?” It depends on who you ask. Zain Velji, former Stratigist’s Podcast moderator, Albertan, political strategist, panelist, volunteer and more, tweeted “Canadian identity is inherently pluralistic… I’m male. I’m Muslim. I’m Canadian. All three. At the same time.” Some of us are Albertan. Some Ontarians. Some progressive, some traditional. Some Liberal, some Conservative. Some of us feel more connected to certain parts of our identities than others.
“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… don’t make our society strong.” Referring to a geographical location as a “ghetto” insinuates that this is a community problem. A poor, culturally specific community problem.
Either by mistake or by design, these words were meant to suggest that the problem does not lie in our affluent or middle class or even poor white communities. Had he said “and want to live apart in their trailer park” or “gated community” it would have been equally targeted. And it’s misleading. This is not just a new immigrant problem. This is also a third and fourth generation Canadian problem.
“Political clienteles… bought with taxpayers (dollars) and special privileges”… do we even need to bring up tax exempt status for Jewish, Catholic, Presbyterian, Luthran, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon etc etc churches? Separate and private schools in Alberta with massive funding? What else would you need to describe a “special interest group”?
Bernier doesn’t go far enough. This can be a problem for newcomers to Canada and very likely why references to gay rights was included in Canada’s Immigration Guide. References Jason Kenney felt the need to remove while he was immigration minister.
It’s important for people coming from other countries, like Iran where Kenney brought groups of LGBT+ individuals who were facing the very real threat of death, to understand that our laws are protective of all citizens. Citizens whose identities are based on religious affiliation, sexual orientation, heritage and cultural background are citizens first. But this isn’t just information for immigrants to Canada; it should be instilled in all Canadians that protections exist for ALL Canadians.
“More diversity will not be our strength”. Like it or not, he is referring to diversity of opinion. Andrew Furey, Toronto SUN columnist, also took Bernier’s words and brought them closer to identifying the problem. “Does Trudeau mean that if you have, say, two people and one supports stoning gays and the other does not that we are somehow better off than if they both opposed the barbaric practice?” Furey, however, also fails to mention that these “diverse” views are alive and well, and being fought for, by second, third and fourth generation Canadians.
Bernier, a libertarian, does not care about the colour of your skin, your religion, whether you are gay or straight or how you choose to live your life; so long as you do not interfere with the rights of others. He is pointing out that some opinions and beliefs have no place in our society. You have a right to your opinion. That does not mean your opinion is right.
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