Born in Montreal, Jacques Chagnon holds a BA in political science (public administration) from Concordia University and has studied political science and law at the University of Montreal.
He was elected, in 1975, to the Saint-Exupéry School Commission and from 1980 to 1985, he was President of the Regional School Commission of Chambly. He was also President and CEO of the Quebec Federation of Catholic School Boards from 1982 to 1985.
He was first elected Member of National Assembly for the riding of Saint-Louis in 1985; re-elected in 1989, 1994 (in the new electoral riding of Westmount-Saint-Louis), 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008, and in 2012. He held several government positions in the National Assembly. In addition to serving as a member or chairman of numerous parliamentary committees over the years, Jacques Chagnon was Education Minister and President of the Council of Education Ministers of Canada (CMEC) in 1994. From April 29, 2003 to February 18, 2005, he was Minister of Public Security. In April 2007, he became Second Vice-President of the National Assembly of Québec. In November 2010, he was appointed Chairman of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas (COPA).
On April 5, 2011, Mr. Chagnon was elected President of the National Assembly. In the process, he became the Chairman of the Committee of the National Assembly, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Parliamentary Reform, as well as President of the Office of the National Assembly. He is also President of the Parliamentary Assembly of la Francophonie (APF) since July 2011, and became the Vice-President according to the by-laws of this organization, which unites 78 parliaments and interparliamentary organizations on 5 continents. Mr. Chagnon was re-elected President of the National Assembly following the September 4, 2012, election.
He is married to Sylvie Bélisle and has three daughters.