Madam Speaker, I somewhat have the impression that I am repeating myself by speaking to this bill, Bill C-318, the purpose of which is to establish apprentice training and certification standards that will be recognized Canada-wide.
We must remember there was an epic battle in Quebec in order to reach an agreement on manpower, so that Quebec, and not the separatists or the sovereignists, but all of Quebec in total agreement including the provincial Liberals, the Action démocratique du Québec and, obviously, the Parti Quebecois, which forms the government of Quebec, along with all the social stakeholders, to enable Quebec to recover jurisdiction over it.
Today, with respect to Bill C-318, I am a bit surprised that we have to have this debate once again. We must remember—and this is the same example we had in health care—that the government of Quebec had to fight for more than a year to obtain recognition of the jurisdictions in health care so that, in the end, with the support of Ontario, the federal government would agree to sign an agreement respecting their jurisdiction over health care.
Today, on the subject of manpower training, recognition of training, this looks like a repeat to us, as if the Liberals are afflicted with the malady of always wanting to meddle in provincial jurisdiction.
When the member says that it is not a national issue, I say to him that it is at least a jurisdictional issue and a matter of efficiency. The provinces already have responsibilities in the area of training. In Quebec we have already come a long way on this. When the bill speaks of setting up a national apprenticeship organization with a mandate to set training and qualification standards for the trades they apply to, it is clear that this is duplication of the work that can be done in the individual provinces.
In this regard, additional bureaucracy will be created. Just imagine. We all know about the efficiency of government bureaucracy. In the area of human resources development, we saw how effective the federal government could be. We saw how, when it comes to taking concrete and day to day measures, this government could end up making a mess, being terribly inefficient and totally missing the mark.
Why should we add another area where federal public servants would evaluate how apprenticeship training is carried out in a province, and end up before the courts seeking legal opinions on jurisdictional issues, when everything is clear? As the member pointed out, already, in some areas, the provinces can voluntarily adhere to standards that are recognized from province to province. So why add an area in which the federal government has no expertise, no jurisdiction and no knowledge?
If the member feels that it is absolutely necessary for the federal government to be responsible for these things, he should seek a constitutional change so that the whole issue of manpower training and education would fall under federal jurisdiction. But Quebec would never agree to that of course. The jurisdiction over education is one of the main reasons why Quebec entered the Canadian confederation in 1867. It was a sine qua non condition to going ahead and signing that pact.
Since then, we have realized that this jurisdiction over education should be extended, to allow us to take effective action in the whole area of manpower. There is absolutely no question of backtracking now. Three years after Quebec took over manpower training, after a more difficult beginning but where there is now practical, functional interaction between the parties to the satisfaction of local communities, it would be very inappropriate to now go back to a system where the federal government decides on the relevance of training given in Quebec or Manitoba.
The member seems to be confusing “national” with “federal”. The federal parliament is not the boss.