Two Jewish candidates for CAQ sing their party’s praises
March 25, 2014 | Mike Cohen - Quebec Bureau Chief
The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), which held the balance of power in the Quebec National Assembly before the April 7 provincial election was called, has found two very enthusiastic Jewish candidates to carry its message.
Local journalist/businessman Noah Sidel and lawyer Valerie Assouline say they are proud to be running under the same banner as CAQ leader François Legault, a former Parti Québecois cabinet minister who claims to have renounced sovereignty. He created this new party before the last election in 2012 and won 19 seats, serving as the main reason why the PQ only came into office with a minority government.
Assouline said, “For decades, the old parties alternated to form the government of Quebec and yet they really have nothing to show for it – except to have exacerbated the morose and cynical voter sentiment with ever-increasing taxes and fees and a long list of broken promises.”
Sidel has spent most of his life in the NDG riding he is running in and is well-known for his involvement in sports and as a businessman and long-time writer for local weekly newspapers.
“I think the Jewish community can be confident to support the CAQ because we stand for stability,” Sidel said. “It is time we get away from the old Liberal-PQ situation. Our party is called a coalition…because we represent everyone.”
Assouline is running in the ethno-cultural riding of Laurier-Dorion, held by Liberal Gerry Sklavounos. She is the founder and president of SOS Lawyers, a firm specializing in civil and commercial law and immigration. As a member of the Jewish community and as a working mother of four young children, she said it was important for her to get involved in these elections.
“As a Jew, and an immigrant that came with my family to Canada from Morocco at an early age, it was also important to have a strong voice at the National Assembly to represent our values and experiences to better serve our population,” she said. “In the past, the Jewish vote was almost automatically a Liberal vote because no other appropriate option existed and the Liberals took that for granted.”
On the controversial Charter of Values, Sidel supports the CAQ position that the charter is necessary, but that the PQ ban on wearing religious symbols, such as Islamic veils, the Jewish kippa, religious turbans and large crucifixes, is “too radical.” Sidel sees nothing wrong with a ban of religious symbols limited to public sector personnel in positions of authority, namely judges, police, prison officers and teachers.
Assouline said that the CAQ’s position is the only one that both follows the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation and one that can be productive for a fairer society looking to avoid any sense of discriminatory actions by people in positions of power.
“As a lawyer, if my Jewish client is in court facing a judge with an Islamic veil, or vice-versa an Islamic client facing a judge wearing a kippa, and a negative decision towards my client is handed down, there might be a part of me asking if the decision was really impartial,” she said. “But any other law restricting further the access to government-related jobs as proposed by the PQ, such as a clerk at the local SAQ branch, a customer support rep at Hydro-Québec or a woman working at your CPE Daycare looking to integrate the workforce and find some financial autonomy, should be blocked because it would be counterproductive to its ‘supposed’ intent to bring more equality between men and women in our society. ”