• James Parry

Independent Senator Jacques Demers sets sights on battling illiteracy across Canada


At the intersection of Main and Cameron in his home town of Hudson, Senator Jacques Demers is looking forward to his new independent focus in 2016.

In the December 17, 2015 edition of Your Local Journal, Senator Jacques Demers, a long-time Hudson resident who was appointed to the Red Chamber in August, 2009, by then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, confirmed in an exclusive interview that he had crossed the floor to sit as an independent.

With the freedom that his new status brings, he has set his sights on doing all that he can to bring public attention to, and hopefully help correct in some way, the problem of illiteracy. Not only in Quebec, but throughout Canada.

Says Demers, “The statistics are staggering. Here we are living in the great country that is Canada, and yet - in Quebec alone - research has shown that 42 per cent of the population is functionally illiterate to some degree. Among those of the First Nations, it is even higher at about 50 per cent.

“It is an extremely sensitive topic and one that people just don't talk about. But it's one that I'm going to dedicate myself to in my new role as an independent senator in this new session of Parliament.”

Not only for adults, adds Demers. But also for the young 'next generation' of Canadians who, he says, are currently being neglected in this regard.

It is no secret that Demers, under whose stewardship as coach, the Montreal Canadiens won their last Stanley Cup back in 1993, knows of which he speaks. In his best-selling biography, titled Jacques Demers En Toutes Lettres, published in 2005 and to the amazement of all, he revealed that throughout his 15 years in the NHL with five different teams, he never knew how to read and write. The cause, he explained in all candor, was an impoverished childhood, where his father beat and psychologically abused him and his mother.

"At the time, I could read a little bit but I couldn't write very well. I took to protecting myself. You put a wall around yourself. And when I was given the possibility of talking, I could speak well and I think that really saved me."

Demers is now determined to help others facing similar problems and help break down their walls in every way that he can. And, as he has proven on so many occasions in the past, Jacques Demers is a winner.

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