The success of support vector machines (SVMs) for classification problems is often dependent on an appropriate normalization of the input feature space. This is particularly true in topic identification, where the relative contribution of the common but uninformative function words can overpower the contribution of the rare but informative content words in the SVM kernel function score if the feature space is not normalized properly. In this paper we apply the discriminative minimum classification error (MCE) training approach to the problem of learning an appropriate feature space normalization for use with an SVM classifier. Results are presented showing significant error rate reductions for an SVM-based system on a topic identification task using the Fisher corpus of audio recordings of human conversations.