Maxime Bernier rejects Liberal MP’s apology over ‘check your privilege’ Twitter row

Lost opportunity for dialogue.

Bernier, the son of a former MP, who represents Beauce, a rural riding with only 1.1 percent visible minorities and overwhelmingly francophone, and Caesar-Chavannes, who represents Whitby, an urban riding with 25.3 percent visible minorities, would each benefit from sharing their life experiences and perspectives, and being more careful with tweets that shut down rather than engage conversations:

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is rejecting an olive branch from Liberal counterpart Celina Caesar-Chavannes after the pair exchanged barbs on Twitter over issues of race and identity politics.

Bernier, Caesar-Chavannes and Liberal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen were going at each other over funding in the budget that Hussen described as historic for racialized Canadians.

The budget included money for a national anti-racism plan, mental health supports for at-risk black youth and funding to collect better data on race, gender and inclusion in Canada.

Bernier says targeting specific Canadians by race is divisive and contrary to the idea of being “colour-blind,” prompting Hussen and Caesar-Chavannes — both visible minorities — to accuse him of ignoring the fact that minorities are treated differently.

In a tweet today, Caesar-Chavannes apologized to Bernier for telling him to “check your privilege and be quiet,” suggesting they meet in person so they can try to resolve their differences on an important issue.

Bernier replied by saying he isn’t interested in a meeting because the two share no common ground, and says Conservatives should support treating everyone individually without any labels at all.

Source: Maxime Bernier rejects Liberal MP’s apology over ‘check your privilege’ Twitter row

Predictably, Anthony Furey of SunMedia picks up on this without understanding or acknowledging that systemic discrimination exists, it is not only about individuals:

Bernier, a former Conservative leadership candidate and well-known free-market advocate, was initially responding to comments posted by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who himself celebrated the budget as “a historic budget for racialized Canadians.” Hussen went on to applaud budget additions that included $19 million for black youth and mental health and $31.8 million for racialized newcomer women.

“I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same,” wrote Bernier. “Not to set some Canadians as being ‘racialized.’ What’s the purpose of this awful jargon? To create more division for the Liberals to exploit?”

It was these remarks that set Caesar-Chavannes off and veered the exchange into toxic territory. She called on Bernier to “do some research, or a Google search, as to why stating colour blindness as a defence actually contributes to racism. Please check your privilege and be quiet.”

She then linked to a column on race issues from The Guardian, a U.K. publication routinely mocked by critics for it’s divisive far-left editorials.

Bernier didn’t take kindly to being told to pipe down, responding on Twitter to say: “You are aware we live in a democracy with free speech as one of its building blocks, right?”

Clearly feeling the heat online, Caesar-Chavannes offered something of an apology, posting early Tuesday morning: “I am not too big to admit when I am wrong. Limiting discussion on this issue by telling you to be quiet was not cool. If you are willing, let’s chat when back in Ottawa. We are miles apart on this important issue and it is possible to come a little closer.”

Some apology. It seems she’s apologizing for telling him to shut it but not for hurling the privilege accusation, then sanctimoniously implying that she’d be willing to educate him out of his ignorant ways “if you are willing.”

It’s unclear which alleged privilege she was specifically referring to, but Bernier is a Caucasian male.

Caesar-Chavannes generated headlines in December when she complained that working in the House of Commons was like “death by a thousand cuts” due to the constant racist “microaggressions” she routinely faces as a black woman. One example she cited is how a woman in the washroom jokingly told her not to steal her purse, a comment Caesar-Chavannes took to be racially motivated.

For Bernier’s part, he wasn’t too charmed by her non-apology.

“Thank you for recognizing my right to air an opinion. I don’t think we can find much common ground beyond that however. You and Min Hussen implied I’m a racist because I want to live in a society where everyone is treated equally and not defined by race.”

He went on to say it’s important to address injustices but not in a way that divides people along racial lines.

That’s what you get when you throw a low blow at someone, as Caesar-Chavannes did. It’s difficult to come together after such a wall has been tossed up. It needlessly divides.

 

Source: FUREY: Toxic ‘privilege’ debate rears its head on Parliament Hill

 

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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