I’m not naive. I get why some people in our community are hesitant. Francois Legault was once a PQ minister. The CAQ is hawkish on identity issues. These are tough issues for a lot of people.

As far as the sovereignty issue is concerned, look, it comes down to whether you believe someone’s opinions can evolve or not. If you don’t believe that’s possible, then the conversation is moot. I think that’s a little closed-minded, but I get it and respect that some people can’t see past the past.

For myself, Legault is crystal clear and this is a non issue:

“For me, it’s Quebec first. For me, it’s more important that if we create jobs, that we do so in Montreal than we do so in Toronto. It’s Quebec first, but within Canada.”

– Francois Legault in The Gazette

‘I want to be very clear — never, never will a CAQ government hold a referendum on sovereignty,’ he said on CJAD.

– From The Gazette  on Francois Legault

As for the identity issue, well, that’s a little tougher. The truth is, every party in the National Assembly has a black mark on the question of identity. The Quebec Liberals passed Bill 62 last session, which blocks people with covered faces from giving or receiving public services. But let’s call a spade a spade: Bill 62 is designed solely to exploit Muslim women to keep the identity issue on the front pages.

The Quebec Liberals have long made hay of keeping the issues of sovereignty and identity alive so they can play “good cop” during an election.

It’s time to call them on their BS. If they were truly interested in advancing the debate in Quebec, Bouchard-Taylor would have been passed and handled by the courts years ago. They want to keep this alive.

For the CAQ’s part, I’m not and never have been comfortable with the approach that state neutrality can only be achieved through isolating religious groups – primarily Muslims. I don’t care if a cop is wearing a hijab, a teacher is wearing a kippah, or a prison guard has a cross dangling from his or her neck – I believe people wearing religious symbols are perfectly capable of exercising correct judgment.

This brings me to a crossroads… do I support a party that goes against my fundamental belief in freedom of religion not only in private, but also in the public sphere? Or do I hold off my support because of this issue.

Well, first of all, there is no second option in this dossier other than scrapping my ballot. The Quebec Liberals exploit the issue of fear of the other, while the CAQ exploits the fear of the other itself. Both are bad.

So in the end it comes down to who has the best overall plan for Quebec, and I firmly believe that is the CAQ under Francois Legault. As they release the plans of the updated Projet St. Laurent and the 2018 electoral platform, I’m confident their plan is what we need to close the wealth gap between Quebec and Ontario and make us stronger within Canada.

It’s time to put the old debates aside and look at what Quebec needs to become a leader in the Canadian economy and society.