By Andrew Heliotis
Despite being criticized for vague platform stances, federal Liberal Leadership candidate Justin Trudeau adamantly answered no to the idea of a federal ministry of education.
Trudeau spoke about education at Loyalist College last week.
The stop was part of a tour that Trudeau hopes will vault him to the top of the federal Liberal party. Trudeau is considered a frontrunner among nine other candidates vying for top spot in the Liberal party.
The Canadian Council of Learning recently called for a federal ministry of education to be established in a 2013 report. Trudeau said he opposed the idea.
“As a Quebec MP I firmly believe education is the responsibility of the province and is something the federal government needs to be very cognizant of, but a federal department of education; No.”
Loyalist College’s Vice President of Academics John McMahon agreed post-secondary educations remain provincially governed and cautions the federal government’s involvement.
“It may be something to look at but the difficulty for the federal government is that education is a provincial matter and they must tread carefully when entering provincial domains, especially in provinces like Quebec,” he said in an email interview.
The Canadian council isn’t the only group who has targeted post-secondary education as a catalyst to economic growth in the future.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released its 10 barriers to competitiveness for 2013. Number one on that list was the skills shortage plaguing Canada, specifically education and employment alignment.
McMahon has been an educator for 33 years and has been in his current role for three.
The idea of education being paramount in aligning personnel for job placement is something McMahon recognizes. He says a federal education system may be able to help in creating a national strategy.
“A federal ministry may be able to offer assistance in terms of creating a national strategy while fully respecting the fact that education is a provincial area of jurisdiction.” Said McMahon.
A national strategy is something the longtime educator supports.
“I believe promoting a national strategy tackling issues relevant to all provinces and all Canadians could be helpful. Issues such as transferability among post-secondary education institutions as well as other nations; the skills shortage across Canada.”
McMahon said of the areas of transferability of credentials, nation-wide access to grants and or even a designed approach to promote innovation in applied research.
“All areas where the federal government could potentially have a positive impact.”