Madam Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to speak to this bill today. It is always enlightening to sit in the House and hear the different points of view.
Actually the hon. member for Mississauga West has almost started a mini constitutional debate here with this issue. We can see from the philosophical positions of the speakers how they accept or reject this approach. In general, if one agrees with a strong central government with national standards for everything like health care, education and training, then one would support this bill. Personally I do not see how we cannot support the bill.
However, if one does not agree with a strong central government and believes that we should have a country with an array of strong provincial governments, with no real strong central government, I suppose one could oppose it. I would certainly support it and I admire the energy and initiative of the hon. member in bringing it forth.
I happen to live at the intersection of three provinces: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I have always been involved with the trades one way or another. I will list some of them: plumbing, electrical, welders, carpenters, mechanics, body shop repair and parts. These are all trades that require apprenticeships or some form of training. The standards for these three provinces change so that there is no mobility from one province to another in a very small area. We are talking of the radius of maybe 100 kilometres at the most where the three provinces intersect and the rules change. The rules are different for each trade. A set of national standards as proposed by this bill makes imminent sense to me. It would certainly help in my specific area.
If one wants to employ or train someone in the trades, the present system is to begin most likely through the community college in a town called Springhill, Nova Scotia, or there is another community college in New Brunswick, the Moncton Community College. Again, two provinces, two sets of standards and a different level of education from both of them. The trades people graduate. They have their diploma, but still they are trained in different ways with different standards. Again this bill would address that.
I personally believe that a bill such as this one would help in a lot more ways than just uniform standards. As the last speaker mentioned, he said it would motivate other standards in these fields. I think that is true. If these trades had national standards they would achieve a better level of recognition and legitimacy for a lot of people who might not think it is a good place to go or might not be inclined to go in the direction of a trade when all the pressure is on to go into high tech, IT technology training and things like that, or to go on to university. Maybe they would rather do a trade but because of the image it has or may have in their own mind they may not want to do it. However, if it has national recognition and national standards they would be more inclined to do it.
Such a program would enhance the community college system. This is a very important and is a critical element of the educational process. Not everybody will be a computer whiz or go into the high tech industry. The community college systems, in my opinion, have always been deprived of the recognition they deserve and the money they deserve. All the focus has been on university and other high tech forms of education. Community colleges really play a key role. They are the forum of education that best trains people for a specific job. I have often felt they are underutilized and under recognized.
Also, such a set of standards would raise the level of standards itself. As the member said, they would accept the highest standard in the land for each trade. How could we go wrong with that? There has to be good positive results from this.
Certainly, just the fact that we could have uniform standards across the country is good. We are famous in Atlantic Canada for exporting our most valuable asset. Atlantic Canadians are going to other parts of the country because job opportunities in Atlantic Canada are not like they are in some other areas. National standards would expedite that process but it would also expedite the process for them coming back at a later date, which is what we all want.
In general, this is a very practical and good bill. I totally support the bill because of my personal hands-on experience in everything the bill stands for. I believe the bill should receive approval and I am sorry it is not votable. If it was I would be voting for it and I am sure my party would be as well.