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 family.

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

May 10th, 2012 / 12:05 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you all for being here.

I'm just curious, Mr. Haycock. How many Canadian members do you have?

12:05 p.m.

General Manager, International Association of Venue Managers

Richard Haycock

We have approximately 150 currently.

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

This is an international organization, so how many American members do you have?

12:05 p.m.

General Manager, International Association of Venue Managers

Richard Haycock

We have almost 3,000.

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Just to refer back to a question from Mr. Calandra, I think part of the question is whether we are borrowing some traditions from the United States. I've often heard the other side asking whether we should be developing our own, so it's interesting that the member would ask for some guidance from American protocol and systems.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

A point of order, Mr. Chair.

I think it's important to clarify that it was specific to event planning and security, not to Canadian traditions for protocols. There's a touch of misrepresentation by the member about what I asked the witness.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Carry on, Mr. Cash.

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

I wanted to ask Mr. Cole something.

In general, what I'm hearing here is that protocol is important and complex. We have some experts in funeral procedure here, and we all know that one of the most delicate moments in people's lives is when they are at funerals for their loved ones. It's a very vulnerable time. You and your colleagues execute your duties exceptionally well. I've been to many funerals—alas—and I've noticed a high level of professionalism. You've established this protocol of professionalism based on what? How have you gotten to this place of delicate diplomacy?

12:10 p.m.

President, Funeral Service Association of Canada

Scott MacLeod

Mr. Chairman, funeral service has evolved, obviously, to where it is today. Generations before us started with building furniture. A lot of funeral homes were initiated through a need for a casket, so a casket was designed. I won't go back through all the history, but slowly there was an evolution towards a service, and someone in the community needed to provide that, so the furniture builder became the go-to person.

In more recent history, though, funeral service has been evolving more and more away from faith and churches. I know in our own funeral home, about 70% of our services are done from our chapel. The main reason is that there is no church connection for a family. That situation is increasing. And with cremation services and direct cremation services, that's all changing too. In the last 10 years there's been a big shift in funeral service, and that is continuing into the future, and that's directed primarily from and around the funeral home.

I've been to many funerals myself, outside of my facility, conducted by other funeral homes. I'm very interested in how something has become a custom in an area, when I don't have it in my area, so there are very unique ways that things happen. A prime example is that for many years we would rest in family homes in a rural community and we would go directly to the church. One family decided they would like to have the minister come to the home and have a prayer at the home. From then on, that became the custom. So there are multiple ways in which things happen.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

In other words, protocol or customs are living things, in a way. They are evolving constantly as we evolve. You can trace, on many levels, the vast changes in Canadian culture and society by how we honour those who are deceased, I would think.

So if we fix this stuff and make a hard core rule that says, “This is how we do this, this is how we do that”, are we boxing ourselves in? Do we need the flexibility if we're talking about some protocols here? How important is that? Are we talking about a guidebook, or a framework, or some place where we can go on the web to find out how to do certain things, or are we talking about getting down to the nitty-gritty of each particular step?

12:10 p.m.

President, Funeral Service Association of Canada

Scott MacLeod

I really believe that we need a template—I might call it that—or a guideline. The challenge for families is, what's appropriate and what's the right thing to do here? I hear that a lot in the funeral service.

Even though they have their own idea or, as I mentioned before, they might have a certain custom that dad or grampy always wanted, they still want to do the right thing, and they want it to represent their loved one well in the community. At services, they want to be proud of the event. They want to be proud of that moment in time for their loved one.

We give a lot of direction as funeral directors. That's what we do when people ask if this is okay or if that is okay, or if they can do this or do that. So anywhere they can go to outside of us and be able to say that here's a template for a state funeral.... That would be I think very important. But again, make it so that it's adaptable.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

That will have to be it, Mr. Cash.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Thank you.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Mr. Hillyer and Mr. Calandra, you're going to split your time.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

To start off, Mr. Haycock, your members understand that there's a difference between security and planning and the respect we show—the Canadian traditions we show—when we're burying a recognized fallen hero.