Jacques SAADA

SAADA, The Hon. Jacques, P.C., B.A.

Personal Data

Brossard--La Prairie (Quebec)
Birth Date
November 22, 1947
businessman, consultant, school administrator, teacher

Parliamentary Career

June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  Brossard--La Prairie (Quebec)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada (July 16, 1998 - August 31, 2000)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
  Brossard--La Prairie (Quebec)
  • Chief Government Whip's assistant (January 15, 2001 - December 1, 2003)
  • Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party (January 15, 2001 - December 1, 2003)
  • Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)
  • Liberal Party House Leader (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)
  • Minister responsible for Democratic Reform (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
  Brossard--La Prairie (Quebec)
  • Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)
  • Liberal Party House Leader (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)
  • Minister responsible for Democratic Reform (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)
  • Minister responsible for La Francophonie (July 20, 2004 - February 5, 2006)
  • Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec (July 20, 2004 - February 5, 2006)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 116 of 117)

November 24, 1997

Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the government announced a reduction in employment insurance premiums, which represents a tax break of $1.4 billion.

Starting January 1, 1998, the contribution rate for workers will drop from $2.90 to $2.70 per $100 in insurable earnings. As for the employers' share, their contribution rate will drop from $4.06 to $3.78. These reductions are the result of more optimistic federal government forecasts relating to its public finances. The government, moreover, has indicated its desire to reduce contribution rates in future as much as possible.

This government action is part of a broader objective to take every approach possible to ensuring the growth of the Canadian economy. That growth is linked to job creation and the maintaining of optimum conditions for public and private investment.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
Full View Permalink

November 24, 1997

Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I will share my time with the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.

Every 22 minutes a person is killed or injured by a mine that goes off. In very concrete terms, this means that since this morning—I took my seat in this House at 11 a.m. and it is now approximately 7.10 p.m.—while I was taking part in this debate in this House some 25 people, mostly civilians and children, were killed or injured by mines. Some mines are even specifically designed to attract children. Take butterfly mines for instance.

Many of my colleagues mentioned the social and environmental costs of these mines. It is important to note that, in the final analysis, there is no proof that the use of mines has ever made a difference in any conflict. No conflict has ever been won through the use of mines.

I would like to read from a paper written by former US Foreign Secretary Cyrus Vance. He wrote this:

“With international attention focused on negotiations to destroy nuclear weapons and prevent a new nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula and in south Asia, some may think that land mines, those tiny weapons that can fit in the palm of the hand, are hardly a threat to world peace. In fact, while reducing the threat of nuclear war must remain the first priority of international arms control efforts, it is small weapons that are killing and wounding far more people every day. The U.S. Department of State has noted that land mines may be the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind.

“We are convinced that nothing less than a total ban on the production, possession, transfer and use of anti-personnel land mines will move us closer to the goal of completely eliminating this scourge. We believe the United States should take the lead to achieve this goal”.

The United States did not take the lead, but Canada did and we must be very proud of that. I would like to take a few moments to mention in particular the efforts made by the Prime Minister, by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, André Ouellet, by the current Minister of the Environment, and by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs who, as we all know, strove to pursue the great Canadian tradition of maintaining and promoting peace.

I would like to tell you briefly about my experience in Oslo. I was there when the treaty was negotiated. I was accompanied by the hon. member for Burlington and the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. The Canadian negotiators enjoyed a high level of credibility over there. These senior public servants from Foreign Affairs and National Defence were a credit to Canada. All too often public servants are criticized. But everyone should know how well they represented our country in Oslo.

As the treaty was being negotiated, NGOs held a conference. I visited the exhibition set up by these NGOs, across from where the negotiations were taking place. I was accompanied by a public servant. He introduced me to someone from the Red Cross as a Canadian parliamentarian. I do not know where she came from, but a young Cambodian woman appeared in a wheelchair. She had lost her legs when she stepped on a mine. She looked at me and said: “Well done, Canada”. That is an experience I am not about to forget. It is an experience that makes one extraordinarily proud of this country.

On September 9, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke before the conference of NGOs. I can tell you that the emotion in that room when he finished speaking was absolutely remarkable.

What I would like to say to all Canadians is this: Be truly proud of your political leaders. Be proud of this House, which is going to unanimously support one of the greatest humanitarian causes in recent decades.

As has been strongly emphasized, the Ottawa process is a large alliance of civilian groups, NGOs, Jody Williams, whom I congratulate, of course, and the organization she represents, as well as the Red Cross.

I would like to wrap up, if I may—it will take just a few seconds—by launching an important appeal to Canadian youth. When I took up politics, I was criticized for being idealistic. I would like the young people of Canada to know that, scarcely one year ago, everyone was sceptical about the Canadian initiative. In a few days, over 100 countries will be here in Ottawa, either to sign or to indicate their moral support for this treaty to prohibit anti-personnel mines.

What I want to tell young people is that there is room for idealism in politics. Today is proof of that. And yes, as members of parliament, we can make a difference, but only if we understand that a society is made up of elected officials, of NGOs, of an entire population deciding to join forces. That is the embodiment of what we are doing this evening.

I know that much remains to be done to bring peace to the world, but I am immensely proud today to be taking a large step in the right direction, in the company of all my colleagues and, in fact, of the entire country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation Act
Full View Permalink

November 18, 1997

Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, on November 7, 1997, President Ben Ali celebrated ten years as the head of my country of origin, Tunisia.

In an attempt to dispel certain myths circulated by extremists and too often given media attention, I would like to tell this House of the measures President Ben Ali has announced in connection with this anniversary. They include greater separation of the executive and legislative branches, the prohibition of race and religion as bases for political parties, public funding of political parties, enshrinement of the equality of men and women in the exercise of democracy, guaranteed seats for the opposition in the chamber of deputies and on municipal councils, a multi-party system, confirmation of the role of judges in connection with passports, and so on.

All these measures reflect values that we as Canadians hold dear. I congratulate President Ben Ali on leading his people along the route to an ever stronger democracy and I offer the expression of my affection to the people of Tunisia.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Tunisia
Full View Permalink

November 17, 1997

Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, although I have spoken several times in this House, this is still my maiden speech. I would therefore like to take advantage of this opportunity to say a few words about my riding of Brossard—La Prairie. This is a riding inhabited by some of the old Quebec families whose roots in North America go back to the 16th century, in Saint-Philippe and La Prairie for instance. As well, the first railway in Canada was at La Prairie.

This is a riding which includes the municipality of Candiac, a quiet little suburb of Montreal, and the city of Brossard, which is listed year after year as one of the best administered cities in Quebec, and where people from a multitude of backgrounds and cultures co-exist.

I would, moreover, like to point out with humility that I had the honour to head a municipal committee which worked out what was to be a first in Quebec, the official proclamation of Brossard as a multicultural city, in 1986.

The municipal government, community organizations and the people of Brossard as a whole have all made an effort to ensure that we would become a model of togetherness in a world so often torn apart by dogmatic ideologies.

All members of Parliament claim that their riding is the best and the truth of the matter is they are most probably right.

But come and experience our down-home hospitality, come visit our schools, our community centres, come talk to our people, the Vaillancourts, the Héberts, the Delisles, the Savards and Guyots, to our citizens with names like Lam, Tsim, Ho, Kurien, Chhatwal, Singh, Batagan, Villafranca, Koufalis, Pattichis, Mayers, Waide, Lewis and all the rest.

Come talk to them, and you will see the harmony that exists among us, and you will understand why I hold such affection for the people of this riding. All of Canada can be proud of them.

My riding is located on the South Shore of Montreal. In 1965 English speaking parents, parents of the area with a tremendous vision and sense of future, brought the South Shore Protestant School Board to task. They wanted their children to learn French using a pilot method developed by McGill University, a method that eventually gained world renown, a method used today by 300,000 young Canadians to learn French.

In 1965, at the time when there were no language laws in Quebec, these tenacious and foresighted parents put French immersion on the world map.

It was my honour and my pleasure to be a commissioner and the chairman of this local school board in our area. It is said, and it gives me great pleasure, that I was the first francophone chairman of a Protestant school board in Quebec.

As part of my duties, some 10 years ago I presented a brief to the National Assembly committee on education. Claude Ryan was the minister at the time. In the brief, I opposed the proposal for linguistic school boards.

Today, I announce my intention to vote in favour of the constitutional amendment before us, and I would like to explain why my position has changed.

On the subject of protecting official language minorities, we have long held that section 93 of the Constitution was a solid bulwark. However, since that time, the end of the 1980s, many Supreme Court decisions have weakened the thrust of section 93, which concerns sectarian guarantees obviously, but strengthened the protection provided under section 23, which concerns linguistic guarantees.

I have three examples. In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the matter of Mahé versus Alberta, confirmed the official language minority rights provided in section 23, as it did as well in 1993 in a reference in Manitoba. Again in 1993, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that section 93 protected denominational school boards in Montreal and Quebec City only. This protection does not apply in my riding.

So, the safeguards provided in section 23 are much greater than those in section 93.

Allow me to deal with certain concerns expressed by Mr. Kamel, who represents the linguistic minority on the South Shore school board, which covers my riding.

First, I want to say that I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Kamel and for the people whom he represents. I personally know a number of them and they are moderate people. Therefore, I take their concerns all the more seriously. These parents deplore the fact that minority rights other than those of anglophones or Protestants are not addressed.

I must point out that section 93 does not deal with these other minority rights. Whether section 93 is amended or not, nothing will change in this regard. Given the demographic evolution of the Quebec society, the provincial government will not always be able to avoid dealing with these rights. Therefore, the debate will have to take place in another forum.

In this letter these parents state their fear that linguistic boards could become a tool in the hands of the separatists. It is a fear that I want to encourage them not to have. If this fear was founded it would mean that Claude Ryan and Robert Bourassa, the Canadian Jewish Congress, le Rassemblement arabe de Montreal, the Quebec Board of Black Educators, the Provincial Association of Protestant Teachers, the Provincial Association of Catholic Teachers, Alliance Quebec and the Gazette, among so many others, would be separatists simply having in common that they have endorsed the principle of linguistic school boards.

One can see the absurdity of the situation.

In our determined fight against the separation of Quebec, the problem is not section 93 or its amendment. The problem is the separatist government in Quebec. Therefore the solution is not to fight against the amendment before us. The solution is to elect a federalist government in Quebec as soon as possible.

In short, a government with good intentions regarding Quebec's place in the Canadian federation could promote Quebec's situation within Canada by relying on school structures, whether denominational or linguistic. Similarly, a government with bad intentions can do just the opposite by using the same structures.

One cannot prevent the modernization of Quebec's school system by imputing motives, particularly if Canada understands the need of Quebeckers to be recognized as different but equal members of the Canadian federation. I am confident that if this recognition takes place, then the separatist threat will truly be marginalized.

Another concern expressed by these parents is that the creation of linguistic school boards could adversely impact on an essential element of harmonious integration, namely the presence in the same schools of francophones, anglophones and allophones who, by living together, learn to know each other, which results in a better integration of these various groups.

I sincerely believe that our diversity is a source of tremendous wealth and pride, the very foundation on which to build a remarkable future for our country.

One of the characteristics of this diversity is its attachment to its roots, traditions and identity so the people who make up this diversity understand even better the need and will for French Quebeckers to promote their roots and traditions and secure their language, culture and identity. The people who make up this diversity can be tremendously credible ambassadors of Quebec's unique character in an effort of inclusion and respect.

I believe that this harmony comes not from the denominational or linguistic features of our school structures, but from the political will that, with a very few exceptions that need to be marginalized, is characteristic of all our people and our authorities. The schools and the communities complement each other remarkably well. They have done and will continue to do a very good job within this diversity that we like so much, in order to promote dignity, respect and the sensible inclusion of each and every member of our community. I am putting all my faith in this and I know time will prove me right.

Besides, if we were to vote against this amendment to section 93 before us today, we would be keeping in place, especially in Montreal and Quebec City, such a burdensome school system that the administration costs would bring about a decrease in the budget for direct services to our children. Under these circumstances, I think it would be totally unacceptable.

This brings me to some issues that, as far as I know, have yet to be addressed during this debate. As adults, we argue about the law, the management issues, the Constitution, the system's efficiency, and so on. But let us take the time to consider what our children are going through, especially but not only the younger ones.

They attend a school they identify with, in an environment they are familiar with, a reassuring environment that gives them a sense of stability. The name or the affiliation of their school board does not matter to them at all. What does matter to them is how nice their teacher is, a teacher they often idolize. What does matter to them is their school friends, their classroom, which they have a hand in decorating, their principal, who is sometimes an authority figure when their behaviour leaves something to be desired, and sometimes a source of pride when they are able to come and sign the principal's book of honour.

What matters to them is the school secretary, who also wears the hats of nurse and second mother, the custodian, who helps them share his respect and pride in their school, the crossing guard, who makes sure they are safe in fair weather or foul. In short, this is such an essential human context.

This human context can be preserved within the contemplated reform. I do, however, see two conditions required: first, that school boards can share the same buildings, at least for a while, to avoid wholesale transfers of children from one school to another. This is perfectly feasible, provided there is a willingness to put the interest of the children first.

Second: to allow transitional periods that vary according to the circumstances. A few days ago, the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi gave us an example of successful integration in the eastern townships. At the secondary school level at Châteauguay, linguistic integration is, to all intents and purposes, already a fait accompli, because English speaking Catholics and English speaking Protestants attend the same school. In such cases, the transition period could therefore be shorter than in certain schools in my riding, for example, where the change to language-based schools might be translated into the transfer of hundreds of students, teachers, school administrators and so on, with all of the uncertainties and upheavals that go with this for all involved.

Let us try imagine the feelings of our administrators and teachers, for example, when they do not have the slightest idea what they will be doing tomorrow, with whom, where, or how.

Progress must not mean dehumanization. The Quebec government has a golden opportunity to combine the restructuring of the school system with the humanism that implementing a project of such scope requires. It is a real challenge, and I put it to the government.

In conclusion, with the overwhelming majority of Quebeckers, regardless of their language or their origin, I invite this House to confirm that the Constitution of Canada serves Quebec and that it gives Quebec every means to progress and to grow.

As member for Brossard—La Prairie, I will vote in favour of the proposed constitutional amendment. I know that all the representatives of the Du Goéland, Brossard and South Shore school boards will take up the challenge to ensure that no minority will feel like one. I know that the people of Brossard—La Prairie will rise to the challenge.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Quebec)
Full View Permalink

November 3, 1997

Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

We are now one month away from the Ottawa conference on the elimination of land mines. Given the extremely powerful leadership role Canada has taken in this regard, I would like to know what specific measures are being taken, both for the conference itself and in terms of post-conference follow-up?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Land Mines
Full View Permalink