Evidence of meeting #30 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 protocol.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Tony Pollard  President, Hotel Association of Canada
  • Scott MacLeod  President, Funeral Service Association of Canada
  • Brian McGarry  Funeral Service Association of Canada
  • Allan Cole  Mortuary Affairs Contractor for Deployed Department of National Defence and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, As an Individual
  • Don Head  Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada
  • Richard Haycock  General Manager, International Association of Venue Managers
  • Sue Lasher  Vice-President, Funeral Service Association of Canada

12:15 p.m.

General Manager, International Association of Venue Managers

Richard Haycock

Yes, Mr. Chairman, without question, and I will speak as a Canadian member of this international association. We always have to apply filters to the information we receive from abroad. It's not unlike going from jurisdiction to jurisdiction within the United States. When we step out of that country and we look at our own needs, we have to apply filters so that we are making it more applicable to our local circumstances, as I mentioned earlier.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

I just wanted to make sure, because my NDP colleague doesn't seem to understand the difference between safety and security and the Canadian traditions that we're talking about in national protocol.

With that, I'll hand it over to Mr. Hillyer.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Lethbridge, AB

Thank you.

Mr. Pollard, in regard to the protocol at hotels, you mentioned a whole bunch of areas for which protocol is a concern, but to what extent, in your experience or from talking to your colleagues, do guests or space renters look to the hotel management for guidance around protocol when they're trying to set up something? Do they ask what to do in that situation?

Also, to what extent would protocol procedures be useful when a group already knows what protocol they have in mind and tells you what resources, materials, and labour they need to put the protocol in place?

12:15 p.m.

President, Hotel Association of Canada

Tony Pollard

Let me give an example. Let's say, Mr. Hillyer, that you want to do an event in a hotel and you really aren't too sure what to do. You've never dealt with a hotel before. We will walk you through all of the various steps. I don't want to be disrespectful, as I said before, but remember that in hotels—and this is going to sound very unCanadian—we're in business to make money.

12:15 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

12:15 p.m.

President, Hotel Association of Canada

Tony Pollard

That said, in a hotel, you have banquet managers, sales managers, and sales teams, and we generate revenue by asking if you would like to have a meal served. You say, “Oh, very good, thank you very much.” We ask if you would like to have entertainment, which we can arrange. You say, “Very good, thank you very much.”

For example, let's say you have a podium. You say that you have with you a federal member of Parliament or a provincial MPP or MNA, or whatever, and you ask where you put the flags. We'll tell you where to put the flags and in what order. We have all of that.

But what I will go back to is that we have people in place who are paid to upsell. Again, it sounds very unCanadian, Mr. Chairman, but we have people in place to walk you through everything you need to do. Now, if you want to do something very untoward.... As I said before, so long as it's legal and moral, we'll do it for you. We have people in place.

I would tell the committee that if you're looking for protocols in a hotel, we can help you with all these various steps. For this submission today, I just put down a whole bunch of things that we do, but we'll help you walk through that.

But I want to reinforce that one of the things we would do first if it were something for the state would be to ask whoever is organizing if they have talked to Heritage Canada. If it's a funeral, the very first thing the hotel person would ask is, “Who is arranging the funeral?” Then they would say, “Let's speak with Mr. McGarry, Mr. MacLeod, or Ms. Lasher...”. We aren't funeral directors. We will go out to wherever the expertise is.

But within the hotel itself, Mr. Hillyer, we can walk people through each and every step of the way.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Lethbridge, AB

Thank you.

Do you have any comments on that same question, Mr. Haycock?

12:15 p.m.

General Manager, International Association of Venue Managers

Richard Haycock

Fundamentally, as was mentioned earlier, the clients who are coming into our venues are our guests. We too are intending to make money—although most don't—and there certainly is a very strong desire to meet clients' needs in every way, shape, or form, given certain parameters. We have access to all the same sorts of resources as the hotels have. Typically the biggest difference between us is perhaps capacity.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Hillyer.

Now we will turn to Mr. Dubé for five minutes.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mainly, I want to come back to the whole funeral issue. I am fascinated by the desire to do the right thing—perhaps “proper” would be a better word. I'll give you a personal example. Someone in my family passed away a few months ago, and we added touches to the funeral to celebrate that person's life, not all that different from what was done when our former leader, Mr. Layton, passed away. It was my grandmother's brother who died. After the funeral, my grandmother said it was a good thing that the priest had been flexible, making it possible to add touches that ordinarily would not have fit with a traditional ceremony.

I appreciate how important tradition is. It involves a ceremony and a certain level of decorum or protocol—our topic of study. There has to be room for some flexibility, however, and in listening to you, I got the sense that you all agree on that point. All the witnesses we heard from previously considered it an acceptable compromise, contrary to what some people claim. I hear a lot of talk about the mistakes that were made, protocol procedures that were not followed. And yet, it all seems to run quite smoothly most of the time; there are some fine partnerships at work.

If we consider protocol for state funerals, for instance, would you say you work well with the people involved, be they at Heritage Canada or the House of Commons? Have you encountered problems in the past that may have prevented you from arranging a proper funeral service, particularly a state funeral?

12:20 p.m.

Funeral Service Association of Canada

Brian McGarry

I guess the short answer is no, or at least not in our experience. We've had wonderful professionals from Heritage Canada and....

I've forgotten the name before Heritage Canada, but même chose.

There have been a couple of issues raised here, though, and you've alluded to them whether you realize it or not. Our industry is of course very different from the hospitality industry, the hotels or the other colleagues here. There may have been a time when we were trained to upsell. That's gone, it really is, and thank goodness.

The point I'm coming to is that we should be obligated now, as funeral directors, because we have so many imported caskets and products...and that's fine. I mean, we can get our products wherever we want. I do think there is an obligation on our part, however, and it's happened twice in our experience, to be transparent to the family about where the product came from, whether it be from China....

And there are caskets coming in from China. My wife is Asian, so I'm not criticizing my wife, believe me.

I think there's an obligation to say, in the selection room, that this one is a Canadian-made casket, that one is from the U.S., etc., and let the family decide. Some families frankly don't care, but I can think of two families who did care. It caused a very awkward situation.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

I don't mean to cut you off, Mr. McGarry, but I don't have a lot of time. I would like to know how that affects protocol. You say there should be better consultation with the family. How exactly does that tie in with specific regulations? Since we're dealing with families and their wishes, there has to be some room for flexibility. In short, what you are saying is that the process of consulting the deceased's family needs to be improved.

12:20 p.m.

Funeral Service Association of Canada

Brian McGarry

Yes, that and flexibility, as I think Mr. Cole and my colleagues alluded to earlier on. We're in a society now that is not what it was when I started—50 years ago; I'm in a rut, guys and ladies.

12:20 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

12:20 p.m.

Funeral Service Association of Canada

Brian McGarry

No one will hire me anywhere else.

But no, sincerely, your question is absolutely correct: flexibility is the order of the day in our work.

As it happened in Quebec, if I may add very quickly, when René Lévesque died, his body was cremated and put in the casket, just like you referred to. That was his wish. Now, as far as the ceremony went, it was the usual.

So we have to be prepared to acknowledge those requests by the families. Flexibility is the answer.