When I joined the CAQ, it was because I believed it was the party we needed to take Quebec out of the “question nationale” quagmire. I still believe this to be the case.

When I joined the CAQ, it was because I believed the party had the best proposals to reform Quebec’s education sector, our health system, and our poltical system. I still believe this to be the case.

When I campaigned for the CAQ in 2014, I said publicly from the beginning that I was uncomfortable with the party’s position on official secularism, but I believed the “Bouchard-Taylor-plus” proposal was the most pragmatic solution to moving past this divisive debate to focus on the real issues, mentioned above.

Unfortunately, the identity issue has now gone from an irritant to the dominant issue and I can no longer support the party. This is where I draw the line:

caq-instapost-chador

I’m not going to accuse party leaders of being xenophobic because I know many of them personally and they’re not. But this is blatant exploitation of xenophobia by the CAQ and goes much, much too far.

Muslims are not the enemy of Quebec. Religion is not the enemy of Quebec. The real enemy of Quebec is the kind of thinking that led us down the question nationale spiral and suffocated us for a generation while our infrastructure crumbled and our economy fell behind.

I’m just one person and I’m not going to pretend my decision to withdraw from the CAQ because of its exploitation of base-level identity politics is going to change anything. I know people high up in the party are paying attention, so perhaps I can make a small difference, but it will probably take an overall push from the CAQ’s members and a rejection at the ballot box in Quebec’s upcoming by-elections to really make a difference.

The CAQ has so much good to offer and if it shifts back towards the economy, towards overhauling Quebec’s bureaucracy, towards reforming our education and health systems, and quits this identity rhetoric, I can see myself coming back.

But as long as any minority is being exploited for electoral gain, I can’t be involved.

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