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Could identity become the biggest issue in Quebec politics?

New Parti Quebecois leader, Jean-Francois Lisee holds his first caucus Friday at the National Assembly. Friday, Oct. 14, 2016., . Raquel Fletcher/Global News

With independence off the table for new Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisée, the PQ is working to define its position on identity.

During his leadership campaign, Lisée sometimes made provocative statements about identity issues. He talked about reducing immigration and he suggested banning the hijab in public.

“(For) reasons that were underlined by 10 European democracies. There are security reasons and there are reasons based on equality of men and women,” Lisée said during a press conference Friday afternoon.

Next week, public hearings will begin on Bill 62, the government’s religious neutrality legislation. Lisée said he will probably support it, but wants to make improvements. He was asked to clarify which aspects of his identity positions he might adjust.

“Too soon to tell,” he replied.

“What I know is that Mr. Lisée is trying to find a position that will have a consensus between all the members of parliament and I think that’s the right approach,” said Alexandre Cloutier, who Lisée named education critic Friday.

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On Friday, the prime minister of France and Premier Couillard signed a joint agreement to fight radicalization, but Couillard made clear his government is not interested in following France in banning the niqab or hijab in Quebec.

“France has its debates; Quebec has its own debates,” the premier said.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said they would stick to discussing mutual challenges like global climate change, terrorist threats and welcoming refugees.

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