Madam Speaker, the Reform Party's amendment is surprising. I would have supported it if it had preceded any agreement drawn up by the Minister of Human Resources Development with respect to a province. This is not the case.
This bill is an illustration of what ails Canada. Canada suffers from the application of more than one strategy to the same people and the same areas of the country. There is a human resources development strategy, a development strategy period, because there can be no development unless human resources are developed. Quebec has one strategy and Canada has another for the same group of people, and that does not work. This is no surprise. You cannot have two separate strategies involving the same people and the same objectives.
A business with two different strategies would not last long. A public body with two strategies is doomed to failure. A couple using two different strategies to raise their children will also run into insurmountable problems and is guaranteed to fail. You cannot have two different strategies.
The bill before us further institutionalizes these two conflicting strategies, each with the same objectives for the same people. How can we sort out these powers the minister assumes for himself, by using an expression that is not defined anywhere, that encompasses human resources development? Human resources means people, as long as they are considered to be resources, that is as long as they contribute to development.
The Minister of Human Resources Development is giving himself jurisdiction over the development of human resources in Canada with the objective of enhancing employment, encouraging equality and promoting social security.
What is left for Quebec? Nothing. The minister is giving himself all related powers, the power to develop policies, to make regulations, to delegate responsibilities to whomever he wants, and to extend his ability to enter into contracts with any organization or any financial institution in the pursuit of these objectives.
The Minister of Human Resources Development becomes the minister of total human resources development. He leaves no room for anybody else. He is the one who will negotiate. And his main instrument of negotiation is the fact that, with the cuts he made in the unemployment insurance program, he has accumulated a surplus which, by the way, without Bill C-12, will be $10 billion next year. However, he has made cuts in education, health and welfare programs, which will force the provinces, including Quebec, to make drastic cuts this year and next year.
It is no surprise that the minister, using his powers, through the UI reform project, plans to get involved in providing assistance, training grants, what we call active measures, to self-employed workers, and do people who have already been on UI for three years. This broadens his client base. In five years, let me tell you, this will involve a large proportion of people needing UI, and so his jurisdiction will keep on spreading out.
What is involved here is not a little squabble between levels of government but, far more tragically, those governments' inability to attain their objectives. That is where the real problem lies. The
real problem lies precisely in what action the federal government considers it should be taking.
The federal government does not trust the provinces. That is obvious, and because of that lack of trust, it is trying to take over from Quebec. In Quebec, however, the consensus on a large number of issues, and the will of the majority on a large number of others, is that we are far from trusting the federal government to attain our objectives for us.
On October 30, as you well know, we came very close, within 52,000 votes, to attaining Quebec sovereignty. For a large number of Quebecers, the reason they wanted sovereignty was the necessity to organize ourselves so that, for once, all of these resources needing only to be developed, all of these people with needs, will have the means of doing so.
This bill is, unfortunately, the expression of an inability to adequately divide the work up for the well being of the people. The federal government decides it is going to do something or have the final say and at what cost and in what way. The Government of Quebec, with the people behind it, feels that, as a people and a nation, it must decide these things and how they are carried out.
I would have hoped that, after October 30, the government would understand, regardless of what the future brings, that the welfare of the ordinary folk and the people as a whole, in Quebec, requires that limited resources be put to good use.
For them to be put to good use, there cannot be two strategies for their utilization, because it would mean significant waste, waste in terms of public servants. They may have to administer programs that run at cross purposes, that go in different directions. They can waste an enormous amount of time just getting things co-ordinated, instead of having money help people and provide them with clear support.
I would have hoped this would be possible, regardless of the outcome. I would not think that the Government of Canada could play with people's welfare in order to give precedence to political and constitutional imperatives. Unfortunately, what has happened with this bill has shown me that government cynicism is widespread and that government decisions come before the welfare of the people.