Evidence of meeting #29 for Canadian Heritage in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was events.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Margaret Huber  Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Calvin Christiansen  Director General, Border Operations Centre and Major Events Directorate, Operations Branch, Canada Border Services Agency
  • Charles Reeves  Associate Chief of Protocol and Director, Official Events Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Doug Goodings  Executive Coordinator of Certification and Accreditation, Ontario Fire College, Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario
  • Stewart Kellock  Chair, Canadian Police Ceremonial Units Association
  • Robert Kirkpatrick  President, Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation
  • John Sobey  Director, Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation
  • Glen Gillies  Honour Guard Member, Toronto Emergency Medical Services Honour Guard, National Alliance of Canadian Emergency Medical Services Honour Guards

Noon

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

Mr. Chairman, if I may, we did bring along some illustrations so that the committee members might see some examples of photos taken during visits. It might be of interest to the members. We'll leave them with you.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

We'll now resume.

On our second panel today we have, from the Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario, Doug Goodings; from the Canadian Police Ceremonial Units Association, Stewart Kellock; from the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Robert Kirkpatrick, as well as John Sobey; and from the National Alliance of Canadian Emergency Medical Services Honour Guards, Glen Gillies.

Welcome to all of you gentlemen. I know the clerk has talked to you about opening remarks. We'll try to limit those to five minutes so that our members have a chance to ask you some questions.

With that, we will start with Mr. Goodings. The floor is yours.

12:05 p.m.

Doug Goodings Executive Coordinator of Certification and Accreditation, Ontario Fire College, Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Committee members, on behalf of the Fire Marshal of Ontario and myself, it's an honour and a privilege to sit here before the committee today.

My name is Doug Goodings. I'm the executive coordinator of certification and accreditation for the Office of the Fire Marshal, and I'm also a retired member of the Canadian Forces of over 25 years.

The fire service is very steeped in history and tradition. Many of these traditions and much of the history of the fire service are incorporated into our memorials and funeral services. An example of that would be the ringing of a bell. Many years ago, a bell would ring to signify that there's a fire in a town. The firefighters would respond. Once they got back to the station, the bell would ring three times to signify that the fire was out, everything had been completed, and everybody returned to the fire station. As part of our memorials and services, the tradition of the ringing of the bell, three rings, three times, signifies that the member has completed his task and he has come home.

Firefighting is an inherently dangerous occupation and firefighters face many hazards and risks in the performance of their duties. Firefighters die in the line of duty and at emergencies. Firefighters also get cancers and diseases as a result of the hazards involved in their work, and many provincial governments have passed presumptive legislation to address these risks and hazards.

Those resulting deaths are also classified as line-of-duty deaths under the provincial governments. The presumptive legislation recognizes active firefighters and some retired firefighters. The fire services history and tradition play a large part in all memorial ceremonies, from those recognizing active line-of-duty deaths and those for line-of-duty deaths under the presumptive legislation, to historic service from retired firefighters and national and provincial memorials.

I was able to bring to the committee members a copy of the protocol manual that was put out by the Ontario Fire Marshal's office for the fire departments in Ontario.

Thank you.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Mr. Kellock.

May 8th, 2012 / 12:10 p.m.

Stewart Kellock Chair, Canadian Police Ceremonial Units Association

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Madam Clerk, committee members, ladies and gentlemen, I feel privileged to be here today, and I thank the committee for inviting me to speak to this important issue.

I apologize, but I am not proficient enough to give my presentation in French.

I would also like to thank and acknowledge Mr. Paul Calandra for his leadership on this issue of national importance.

I hope I am not redundant, but as a front-line user of protocol, I believe it is an important matter. Protocol, by its definition, is an etiquette or behaviour that demonstrates respect. Many venerable institutions have their own protocols—the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion, the RCMP, and many others. However, the Canadian police ceremonial units unanimously believe that national protocol guidelines should be developed and made available to all Canadians.

Since 1985 I have had the honour of serving the Toronto Police Service as its ceremonial sergeant major, and formed at the time one of the first non-military ceremonial units in the country. Now, practically every emergency service throughout this vast land has a group or practice to recognize its fallen and pay homage to them, and also to provide ceremony and dignity to their public and institutional events. The Toronto Police Service participates in approximately 170 ceremonial events annually.

Likewise, as a Canadian army reserve officer, I've had the high honour of participating in over 50 repatriation ceremonies. I've assisted in every aspect of repatriation, from Kandahar to Camp Mirage to the coroner's office in Toronto, through to interment. I have witnessed the incredible professionalism and pride of all involved in making sure that every dignity and respect is paid to our fallen.

I was also dispatched to Haiti following the massive earthquake a few years ago to locate and prepare for the repatriation of two fallen RCMP officers. The process was likewise dignified and respectful throughout.

I've been involved in the planning of far too many funerals here at home, including the ceremony for the late Jack Layton. These tragic events are a reminder to us all of two things: the sacrifice of Canadians, and the fact that Canadians desire and need a method or forum to demonstrate their support and respect for those who have fallen.

Having taken the Highway of Heroes over 50 times, I can tell you that it is an emotionally draining experience. In fact, it is so impactive that I have to share a story with you.

After having lost a comrade-in-arms in Afghanistan, a young soldier from rural Quebec was escorting his friend home. Like most, at the end of his journey he was reduced to tears and emotionally exhausted. He turned to us and said, “Before I was a sovereigntist, now I am a nationalist.” They're very powerful words. The impact of thousands and thousands of everyday Canadians saluting, waving flags, et beaucoup de drapeaux du Québec, was so profound that his attitude to Canadians and Canada had changed.

Canadians have developed our traditions. The Highway of Heroes was one. It was started by a lone Canadian, as I recall, on Little Lake Road bridge with a single flag. With the insistence and determination of Mr. Allan Cole, a witness you will hear from later, this has grown to receive international recognition of how Canadians honour Canadians.

By developing a process that we are addressing here today, ladies and gentlemen, we are in fact defining our identity—in effect, nation-building. We are developing our identity through an energy, enthusiasm, and pride in our country. We are doing it by showing our pride in our Canadian icons, our history, and our traditions.

When I talk about creating a national protocol, it's about institutionalizing our traditions and providing a framework that either does not currently exist or is so obscure that to try to find it may not be worthy of the effort. I am even sure that the House of Commons on occasion has conflict with this.

Many groups and organizations may come before this committee and say there may be no need to codify what we do and how we do it, but I can tell you that we respectfully disagree. I would offer, if I may, a few paradigms that we face.

The first example is during police funerals. These events have become public manifestations of support by both the police force involved and those who wish to demonstrate their solidarity with the fallen officer and the institution of policing. There are many instances where there is disparity, conflict, and inconsistency in how these events are planned and carried out: the placement of flags and flag parties; the order of dress; the conduct of pallbearers; hats on or hats off; casket at the shoulder or the trail; honorary pallbearers; VIP placement; order of precedence; guard of honour, before or after service; who salutes; and the list goes on.

In all of this we must reflect the wishes of the family, the traditions of the service, as well as the established precedents of the profession. Often there is great need to de-conflict these issues, no matter how small. This was extremely evident during the state funeral for the late Jack Layton. Currently there is no national reference by which to accomplish this.

I have witnessed police funerals, for example, that have used 100% American protocols in drill and ceremonial, including folding our flag in a triangle, which I personally feel is an affront to our most cherished national symbol. Currently, there is no official way to fold our Canadian flag. You may find three methods on the Internet, and they're by individual organizations. But the Canadian flag is a symbol of national importance and is owned by the government and people of Canada.

I firmly believe it is up to the people, through its government, to say how we treat our national symbols, for to do otherwise is an abdication of responsibility.

I was at an event last week, which several cabinet ministers and members of Parliament attended, and all our provincial flags were aligned completely out of order. Members were improperly dressed for the occasion, and greetings from the Governor General of Canada were filled with grammatical and spelling errors. This is just common courtesy. It is about respect, as well as nation building, giving Canadians the opportunity to reflect and demonstrate their pride in our country and its icons.

This is as important as changing our anthem or developing a new flag. In the United States, everyone knows they're expected to stand with their hand on their heart during certain occasions: raising of the flag, the oath, and national anthem. But Canadians have no visual method of displaying their respect, and often this American practice can be observed in this country.

The conflict in Afghanistan, our performance in international sport, and Canada's position in the world give every reason for Canadians to be proud. I profoundly believe that Canadians desire a method to appropriately demonstrate their pride, and it is up to the government to show leadership in this regard.

We don't need enforced regulations or laws; we need a comprehensive compendium of guidelines and suggestions on drill, dress, and ceremonial, reflecting the commonality and diversity of Canadians, something that can easily be accessed and used as a reference by individuals and organizations, and it should reflect our history, traditions, and legacy, but also look to the future and provide flexibility in its application.

Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you.

Now we have Mr. Kirkpatrick.

12:15 p.m.

Robert Kirkpatrick President, Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Thank you very much, and good afternoon.

My comments will be brief, and I will defer to my other colleague for more detailed information.

My name is Robert Kirkpatrick, and I've been a captain with the Mississauga Fire Services for 27 years. I'm the current president of the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

The foundation operates the national memorial service for firefighters here in Ottawa. We also give out scholarships for the children of firefighters killed in the line of duty. The new Canadian firefighters' memorial is currently under construction on Lebreton Flats, made possible by a generous grant from the ministry of heritage.

The ceremony is run for the families. They are the VIPs at our ceremony, and we do everything for them. We pay their way to come, we look after them, and we operate the ceremony. As Doug has pointed out, the foundation is not involved in funerals. We leave the funerals to the local municipality or service where the death occurred. Our next contact with the family is when they're brought to Ottawa in September for the ceremony.

I'll now pass to John for more details on what we do at the ceremony.

12:15 p.m.

John Sobey Director, Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Good afternoon.

My name is John Sobey. I'm currently an active member of the Ottawa Fire Services. I serve as the vice-president of the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association. I've been active for 32 years, including in the municipal and military fire service, and I currently sit as a CFFF board director. I hold the position of chair of our ceremony committee.

As far as the role I would play, as Bob pointed out, our VIPs are first and foremost, and will continue to be, the families of the fallen firefighters we're honouring in a particular year. This year, by the way, will be our 9th annual ceremony. My role, as the ceremony coordinator, captures the weekend of events. Specifically to the ceremony itself, I speak to the firefighters, honour guards, the colour parties, and bands that will participate on a voluntary basis in our ceremony.

The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation recognizes all branches of Canadian fire services at all levels of government: municipal; the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association; our brothers and sisters in the armed forces; and those in the wild lands. It's comprehensive in that we include a lot of individuals who, for the most part, certainly aren't known—and historically firefighters aren't—for their ceremonial cut. It's certainly a privilege, in my role and in my experience, to organize our brothers and sisters so that we fulfill the capacity of honouring the families the way we do.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Kirkpatrick.

Finally, we'll move to Mr. Gillies.

12:20 p.m.

Glen Gillies Honour Guard Member, Toronto Emergency Medical Services Honour Guard, National Alliance of Canadian Emergency Medical Services Honour Guards

Thank you very much.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Madam Clerk, members of the committee, acting members of the committee, and attending witnesses.

My name is Glen Gillies, and I am here representing the National Alliance of Canadian EMS Honour Guards. It's my pleasure to speak to you today on the importance of adopting national protocols for ceremonial procedures across Canada.

I am a charter member of the Toronto EMS Honour Guard, a ceremonial unit that was created in 1992 and to our knowledge is the first solely dedicated, organized, and uniformed honour guard or ceremonial unit in Canada that represented emergency medical services. Its purpose was to elevate the image and public awareness of emergency medical services and to heighten staff and civic pride in the professionalism of our service.

Since our inception there have been numerous EMS honour guards and ceremonial units that have emerged in Canada, with the largest growth being in the province of Ontario, where we currently have sixteen established guard units and one dedicated EMS pipe and drum band, the only EMS dedicated pipe and drum band in Canada.

The Toronto EMS Honour Guard is a multiple award-winning unit and boasts a roster of close to 30 members who have paraded not only in Toronto but across Canada and into the United States, paying tribute to fallen emergency services personnel, standing guard for official civic functions and visiting dignitaries, and being honoured as the only non-military honour guard ever to march on the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as part of the U.S. Memorial Day celebrations in 2010.

The Toronto EMS Honour Guard is a proud member of the National Alliance of Canadian EMS Honour Guards, which was formed in 2008. This national alliance was formed to unite EMS honour guards from coast to coast and to provide a computer-based meeting location. Here, honour guard units from coast to coast can meet in a virtual setting to discuss local issues, collaborate with other similar guard units, and develop policy templates to assist in whatever need a local guard unit may require.

Since its inception in 2008, the National Alliance of Canadian EMS Honour Guards boasts a membership contingent of 25 guard units from coast to coast, all collaborating together on issues of national significance. The mission statement of the National Alliance of Canadian EMS Honour Guards is to enhance the image of emergency medical services by unifying the EMS honour guard units of Canada through the development and acceptance of common standards, protocols, and codes of conduct. Our core values are honour, duty, integrity, discipline, and commitment. Our motto is semper memoria, always remembered.

The alliance holds several teleconferences throughout the year and an annual round table conference in a different jurisdiction annually to discuss relevant and important issues pertaining to EMS honour guard functions and other matters of national ceremonial importance.

Since the inception of the national alliance, there has always been a willingness to assist all those who ask in forming national templates and protocols requiring one or more ceremonial units in attendance at important functions. This is one of the cornerstones of our group, and through this deposition we hope to be part of a national strategy, working together alongside our colleagues in emergency services, other interested parties, and the Ministry of Canadian Heritage to establish and uphold a high standard when it comes to issues of national significance in protocol.

In EMS, traditionally, we all gather for line-of-duty death funerals, from all branches of emergency services, including those of field ambulance divisions of the Canadian Armed Forces, or at significant federal events such as dignitary visits, head of state functions, Remembrance Day services, or whatever deems a coordinated national response.

Typically, these events are well planned in advance, but events do spring up unannounced, which often causes a lot coordination to be done to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rule book. The establishment of a national template for significant events would make planning and coordinating these events much easier and a lot less stressful for those involved in the event. A lead agency needs to be determined, specific to the event being held, whether it's an emergency services line-of-duty-death funeral or the visit of a dignitary or other head of state. Inclusion of all honour guard units is essential, but a protocol of leadership needs to be developed and enforced to make this event a success.

As stated by my other colleagues, there need to be clearly defined templates for all Canadian ceremonial protocols. A main example, as Mr. Kellock brought to your attention, is the folding and presenting of our Canadian flag, an issue that still needs to be defined 47 years after the flag was first proclaimed and flown here on Parliament Hill.

Having been fortunate enough to have travelled abroad to many countries where Canada's military and Canadians as a whole have made a significant contribution towards liberation and basic human rights, it gives me great pride to wear our flag and to be recognized as a Canadian and shown the respect that our soldiers and fellow countrymen have secured for me in the past. The establishment of these national protocols will honour their efforts and renew a sense of pride and respect for and in Canada that their legacy has left behind for us to champion.

From their failing hands we have caught the torch. Be it ours to raise it high together.

The establishment of national protocols and procedures should be a priority of this government, and particularly this ministry, safeguarding Canada's national symbols, ideals, and beliefs, and indoctrinating them in nationally acceptable guidelines for their ceremonial use. There have been numerous protocols designed and made available for reference by key organizations across Canada, the alliance being one of them, so the groundwork is already in existence. A collection and vetting of these numerous documents would serve to form the groundwork for national protocols to be developed. We at the National Alliance of Canadian EMS Honour Guards would be more than willing to assist in this monumental task. Establishing or building upon national protocols and procedural policies would aid in our mission and reinforce our core values to all of Canada.

These protocols would have to be available in both official languages, and be fluid enough to adapt to uniquely Canadian situations and traditions. Once these criteria are met, they need to be housed in an easily accessible location, such as a computer-based reference library, accessible and downloadable to all those who require information pertaining to events of national significance or to those who are simply looking for reference documents for large-scale events in their own jurisdictions.

To answer the questions sought by this Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, on the existence or development of these national Canadian protocols for conducting ceremonies, the form they should take, and how to make them available, this is my answer. I'm not sure if official Canadian protocol procedures for conducting ceremonies have ever existed, but they can be easily crafted and implemented by seeking input from all stakeholders on various protocols in existence. Therefore, a motion should be made by this standing committee to seek all input from parties of interest to submit their documents for vetting by this committee, as well as selected subject matter experts, in order to develop national protocol documents for use by external parties whenever required, transcribed in both official languages, and made available in a complimentary, downloadable format from a centralized computer database, accessible to all those who make inquiry.

In addition, for those who do make inquiry, a formal follow-up procedure should be implemented to ensure that those who do inquire have their questions answered and needs satisfied. They can be referred to a specializing agency in their field of inquiry to further assist them in preparation for their event, whether it be an emergency services line-of-duty death, a dignitary visit, a formal military parade, or other event of civic, provincial, or national importance.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to provide a deposition on behalf of the National Alliance of Canadian EMS Honour Guards. It has been a true honour and privilege to speak with you all here today.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Gillies.

Now we will move to our question and answer time. First is Mr. Calandra.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We heard from the last witness that foreign emissaries used to be brought to Rideau Hall in a horse and carriage. We have moved on from that. Now they get driven in, and so on and so forth, and that's great. I don't think that is necessarily great if we have traditions in this country. If any Governor General comes into place and wants to revert back to that tradition on occasion or in some circumstances, should it not be written somewhere that this was the tradition that took place in Canada, so that over time—yes, we now bring them in a car—if we want to revert back to a tradition, we can easily do that?

In listening to witnesses, protocol seems to be more jealously guarded than anything else I've ever.... We keep hearing the words “flexibility, flexibility, flexibility”. Yes, everybody understands there has to flexibility, depending on what goes on. Is there not a basic standard of protocol that can be easily written down, accepted, and transmitted to people so that we don't have mistakes and we don't lose basic Canadian traditions, and that would still be able to be flexible?

When we bury a firefighter who has fallen in the line of duty, are there not certain aspects at a firefighter's memorial that we would like the municipality to follow in order to make it a proper ceremony? When we do the same for a police officer, are there not certain elements that we should be following so as not to disrespect not only the fallen officer but those who have gone before him? The same with EMS. How much pressure do we, not having this written down, put on you guys and people in your position to actually do it right? When you screw up or something goes wrong, everybody talks about a screw-up; everybody notices a screw-up. What if we had given you the tools? How easy is it for you?

I have been trying to look for national protocol standards. It's all over the place. I don't think it does a disrespect to Canadians or the diversity of the country if we have a set standard. I'm going to leave it open to all of you.

12:30 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Police Ceremonial Units Association

Stewart Kellock

I could briefly speak to that. Quite frankly, that is the reason we're here and it is the reason we've been formed. It is by individual organization initiative and trying to maintain our history and our traditions of the past, because it is not codified anywhere. I may say the Canadian Forces and the RCMP have probably been the greatest retainers of their history. Volume II of CFP-201–A-PD- 201, which is the manual for drill in ceremonial for the Canadian Forces, I think is basically what we follow, with applications, of course, for the fire, the EMS, and for other organizations.

You're right. We try to keep our own history and traditions. That's where the conflict lies. For example, during the Jack Layton funeral, where the City of Toronto has had a history and tradition of doing things a certain way for its dignitaries passing.... They may not be at the national level, but when a state funeral came to Toronto, we were doing things that were in conflict with the RCMP that we were told to do in Ottawa. We're all in the same net. Where do you go to de-conflict this issue?

Likewise when we have national memorials, there are certain groups that do certain things certain ways. We try to give the host organization their respect and say it's their parade and we will do what they wish us to do.

I'll yield to my other colleagues on how we do that.

12:30 p.m.

Executive Coordinator of Certification and Accreditation, Ontario Fire College, Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario

Doug Goodings

I think it's extremely critical that we have a national protocol. It is extremely difficult when we're involved in a funeral, memorial, or anything like that, first to meet the needs of the family and secondly to do it right. A lot of times we're flying by the seat of our pants to do it right.