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Maxime Bernier is challenging orthodoxy. He deserves a civil reply: Neil Macdonald

14 332 2955

To state the obvious, Conservative MP Maxime Bernier's attempts to irrupt into the liberal orthodoxy of identity politics is a bit rich.

Bernier is, after all, an MP from Quebec, where most people regard their language and culture as something ennobling and worthy of special status and protection, which is the original and biggest identity politics issue Canada has faced. It in fact nearly broke up the country.

That said, Bernier's contention – that identity politics promotes an endless splintering of the polity into ever-narrower shards of cohorts, all of whom believe their ethnicity or religious beliefs or sexuality merit special consideration – is worth discussing. Dismissing Bernier as a nativist, or white nationalist, or simply racist is just more of the reflexive, ad hominem groupthink that's currently so fashionable.

5/ Trudeau’s extreme multiculturalism and cult of diversity will divide us into little tribes that have less and less in common, apart from their dependence on government in Ottawa. These tribes become political clienteles to be bought with taxpayers $ and special privileges.

In any case, Bernier's is hardly a new argument. Todd Gitlin, a respected American public intellectual on the political left, made more or less the same case in the early '90s, complaining that his treasured Rainbow Coalition of the '60s and '70s had shattered, as its constituent groups broke away, intent on separating themselves and promoting their concerns above others. Gitlin argued that power lies in unity and collective will, and that the loss of a collective voice is a path to irrelevance. In retrospect, he had a point.

Maïr Verthuy, a prominent Quebec feminist and........