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

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and our study on the review of national protocol procedures.

We're very glad to have with us today the panel that we do.

First, from the Funeral Service Association of Canada, we have Scott MacLeod, Sue Lasher, and Brian McGarry.

From the Hotel Association of Canada, we have Tony Pollard, president.

Allan Cole is a mortuary affairs contractor for Department of National Defence and RCMP.

From the Correctional Service of Canada, we have Don Head, commissioner.

And from the International Association of Venue Managers, we have Richard Haycock, general manager.

Welcome to all of you. The way this usually works is that you'll have about seven minutes for opening remarks. Then we'll go into a time for questions and answers. We're scheduled to be in this meeting until about 12:50 p.m., when we'll have some committee business.

With that, I'll turn it over to you, Tony. Welcome. It's good to see you again. We look forward to your remarks.

The floor is yours.

11:05 a.m.

Tony Pollard President, Hotel Association of Canada

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I'm delighted to be here. I was delighted to receive the invitation last week to come here.

I look around the room and I see a lot of my old friends, including Gord Brown, who is a hotelier as well as a member of Parliament. Maybe we should put Gord over here and me over there somewhere.

11:05 a.m.

A voice

It depends on which party.

11:05 a.m.

President, Hotel Association of Canada

Tony Pollard

I'm completely apolitical. I do this for a living.

Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman and all members of the committee. It's an honour and a privilege to be here with you today to talk about national protocol issues.

At the outset, I'd like to say that hotels have extensive knowledge and expertise on protocol procedures; there's no doubt about that. At the same time, we're leaders in providing service delivery to all folks, including VIPs and distinguished visitors. This isn't new to us. Frankly, we go back to Canada's founder and first governor, Samuel de Champlain, and the Order of Good Cheer. We're pretty good at what we do most of the time, I'd like to think.

Very quickly I will provide some background for you. I didn't want to miss the opportunity.

In 2010 tourism generated about $73.4 billion in total revenue, but 80% of that came from the domestic market and about 20% from exports. Tourism contributed about $20 billion in federal revenue. I always like to say whenever I appear before a committee that we're the good news folks. We actually bring in revenue for the government. We have about 600,000 jobs in Canada.

The lodging sector, which is what I specifically represent, did about $16.4 billion in revenue in 2010. We employ about 284,000 people. We paid out directly to the feds about $3.2 billion in taxes.

The total value of all of our assets across Canada is about $43 billion. Mr. Brown is one of the owners of part of those assets.

Let's get down to the question of what we're doing here.

Before giving you a summary of the protocol procedures that we have in hotels, I want to emphasize that it's always the guests whom we turn to for direction on their specific needs and requirements. That's our standard operating procedure. We find out from them what they need. Frankly, as long as it's legal and moral and falls within the agreed upon budget, we will typically deliver what it is they're looking for.

I will give you an idea of what some of the protocol items are that we have in hotels.

First and foremost, safety and security is our number one priority. It always has been and always will be.

We have protocols on the assignment of floors and rooms, including the rooms above, below, and beside a suite in question, depending upon who it is, where they're from and what their requirements are.

We have military requirements in hotels. Case in point: the Chief of the Defence Staff has to have a corner room that faces southeast to be able to have satellite hook-up.

I'm trying to give you a feeling for some of the concerns and interests we have.

We have protocols on exits and entries into hotels. Quite often you will find a situation whereby the individual in question doesn't want to go through the front door. We have protocols for that.

For security and scanning, we have protocols in place to take care of those issues. Fortunately, we live in Canada, but I'm sure most of you have travelled to places like Asia or Africa where you will see different types of protocols vis-à-vis whether you can drive up to the hotel or whether you have to park outside because you don't want to have any terrorist threats. We have those in place.

Moving on, there are orders of precedence, who takes precedence over whom. It's similar to that in the Government of Canada, if you're a member or a cabinet minister, whether you're PC, etc.

We have protocols in place for receiving lines as to who appears where. You folks have seen that.

With regard to interpretation, there are very strong protocols. We see those right in this room.

With regard to recognition of honoured guests—how does that work? There are protocols there.

There are protocols for signing ceremonies or for dealing with foreign dignitaries. We have protocols for flags, for which flag gets placed where and how, for which one is higher or lower, and for where they sit.

There are table designs and room layouts, similar to those for this room. There are protocols in place for those.

There are protocols for toasting.

There are protocols for cross-cultural fundamentals. How do you deal with various groups from around the world? What do we have there?

There are protocols for handling the press and media representatives. How do those work? What happens if somebody wants to go in and you say “No”? We've seen that before.

There are significant protocols regarding coordination with police forces and who does what, when, where, and how.

Two items that are always of paramount concern....[Technical Difficulty—Editor] We have to adhere to that. It's always front and centre. When it was introduced about 10 years ago, I remember it was a major item for hotels: what you could ask for, what you couldn't ask for, what you could get. Then we have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which obviously is a piece of legislation that prevails.

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I would be delighted to take any questions you have and to see how we can help. I understand the process, and I understand you're trying to move forward to establish new protocols. From the hotel side, we'd be delighted to be of assistance, in whatever way we can, and later, when questions come up, we'd be delighted to be of service.

That's my presentation.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Pollard.

Now we'll hear from the Funeral Service Association of Canada.

The floor is yours.

11:10 a.m.

Scott MacLeod President, Funeral Service Association of Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm Scott MacLeod. I'm a funeral director in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and I understand, Mr. Chairman, you're from New Brunswick. I'm honoured to be here.

With me today is Sue Lasher, who is our vice-president from Calgary, and Brian McGarry, who is our expert in protocol of funeral service. You might know Mr. McGarry. He's a local funeral director. He's written a book that's just been released, From Paupers to Prime Ministers: A Life in Death. I'll be interested to hear what Mr. McGarry has to say in a moment.

The Funeral Service Association of Canada is perfectly positioned to provide communication to our membership. We represent about 80% of all deaths in Canada, and we have a fantastic communication method to get anything for any directive you may have for our members. We'd be glad and honoured to provide that. We also have a good rapport with our provincial regulators, and we have contact with non-funeral directors as well. We'd be honoured to be a conduit to all funeral homes in Canada.

Although it's not the purview of this committee, we would like to mention that we are in discussions with Minister Blaney about Veterans Affairs concerns, current funding rates of the Last Post Fund. The fund is a not-for-profit organization that delivers funerals and a burial assistance program to eligible Canadian veterans. Fund levels for these funerals have not been adjusted since 2001, and rising costs have meant that funeral directors across Canada have been subsidizing the cost of veterans' funerals. We need a long-term solution to that. Just as we do for statesmen and stateswomen, we want to support our veterans.

I would now like to introduce Mr. McGarry as our expert in state funerals.

Brian.

11:10 a.m.

Brian McGarry Funeral Service Association of Canada

Thank you.

Perhaps, if I may say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

In case we might possibly take our work lightly—the global “we”—we've been flabbergasted, frankly, at the response by the public to these two books that were released a week ago. We've had over 1,100 folks purchasing them.

Just as an aside, that part of it all goes to charity.

But here's the point. I'd like, if you'd permit, Mr. Chair, to leave you a copy of both the album and the story. It's not all about state funerals, but there are two significant chapters that are in fact about state occasions as they apply to funerals. I'd be more than happy to leave those with the committee.

When you have a spare moment—I know you don't have many spare moments, honourable members—it's not a long dissertation, but I think it will give you some notion of how we've gone through this. We've been involved with something like 22 state funerals or partial state funerals. My colleague Don Renaud—who's behind me here—looked after Pierre Trudeau's service on our company's behalf. We go back to Mackenzie King, way back in 1950.

So I would like to leave that thought with you. We do have also, if you would permit me to table it with you, a manual—maybe it's on file already—written by Sergeant Major Eric Young, retired RCMP, that applies primarily to RCMP funerals but also flows over into other aspects of state occasions.

Maybe it's better to chat at question time. I think I'll leave it at that for now. I'd be more than delighted to have these distributed later.

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. McGarry.

We will now move to Mr. Cole.

11:15 a.m.

Allan Cole Mortuary Affairs Contractor for Deployed Department of National Defence and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, As an Individual

Mr. Chair and members of the committee, my name is Allan Cole. I am a funeral director, a mortuary affairs specialist, a logistics specialist, and even an event planner of sorts.

I am a proud member of the Funeral Service Association of Canada; however, the work I do, to some degree, is significantly different inasmuch as I have occasion in many circumstances to work directly on behalf of the government.

I followed my family's heritage and in my grandfather's footsteps and became a funeral director 34 years ago. I was raised in this profession and have been mentored by some of the most respected individuals in funeral service across Canada.

It is indeed an honour to have been asked to appear before this esteemed committee. During my career, I have served and participated in some of the most solemn events and occasions witnessed in Canada. I have been honoured to be a part of funerals for municipal and provincial police officers, our national police service, serving military personnel and veterans of all branches of service and all ranks, politicians, and high-ranking government officials.

Throughout my career I have facilitated observances of rituals, customs, traditions, and protocols. Some of these practices and considerations are of religious or cultural significance and dictate observances brought down through the ages to commemorate a life lived or to celebrate a person's lifelong accomplishments.

Death has always been commemorated with ritual and ceremony. Every culture has evolved with its own traditions around the matter, from the mummification of the ancient Egyptians to the massive pyre afforded a Viking chieftain.

Many burial customs were devised superstitiously to guard against the evil spirits thought to have caused the person's death. Chants, bell ringing, candles, and even gunfire have all been used to ward off these phantoms. Such practices have varied extensively with time, place, and religious beliefs, but many persist today as signs of respect toward not only the deceased but the grieving family that has lost a loved one.

To my knowledge, there are several directives or guides for the observance of appropriate protocol but no one single source from which we could derive the Canadian way of commemorating the loss of a uniformed person or dignitary, or celebrating their lifelong accomplishments.

Many Canadians have made tremendous contributions or have paid the ultimate price, and the way we commemorate their lives and service is in the national interests of all. That commemoration should be steeped in tradition and adhere to a national protocol that reflects our national heritage and is clearly identifiable as Canadian.

The Canadian Forces has its Canadian Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial. The Royal Canadian Legion has a guide for funerals, which includes the Legion tribute and process for such a tribute. It includes music and identifies participants, order of services, and more. The RCMP has its own guide for the regimental funeral, perhaps the current incarnation of the work done by retired corps Sergeant Major Eric Young, as Brian alluded to.

Public Works and Government Services Canada has a ceremonial guide that refers to state funerals·and protocols concerning such things as flags and guards.

At the provincial level there is a variety of guides and documents produced to direct what protocols should be observed. As I said, there's a variety of them, but no one single voice.

My firm has been honoured to serve as the mortuary affairs component for the Canadian Forces and the RCMP for many years. We facilitate the repatriations for fallen serving members from all over the world. I have conducted military funerals and burials in Canada and at the Commonwealth war graves cemeteries in France, Holland, Poland, and Belgium.

All of the repatriations since the beginning of the Afghanistan deployment were orchestrated as a joint effort between my firm and members of the Canadian Forces in Trenton, Ottawa, and Toronto. The tragic losses in Afghanistan represented many of the circumstances in which very public arrival ceremonies in Trenton resulted in some unique applications of military protocol and ceremonial considerations.

Of course, there was no precedent to refer to concerning the repatriation ceremony. Almost all of it was developed over time and became well organized and repetitive with the frequency of the requirement. Early repats began with the padre leading the casket from the aircraft to the hearse, with no families present. Then it was decided that padres should be present but not move with the remains, and families should be invited to the arrivals of their loved ones back in Canada.

Early on, there were many heated discussions to facilitate the repat ceremonies because there was no set protocol, no financial considerations to address the needs of travelling families, and no recognized authority to sort out the problems and solutions.

The Canadian Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial does not and did not provide for the playing of the bagpipes for most, or the use of a bugler instead for those fallen from the Van Doos regiment. Section 4 of the CF Manual of Drill and Ceremonial, entitled “The Unloading of a Casket from an Overseas Aircraft”, clearly states at point 3, “No band shall be in attendance”. But clearly, the introduction of a piper or bugler added to the respectful and dignified ceremony that quickly became part of a Canadian tradition known as the repatriation ceremony.

Further, the guide does not provide any direction for ceremonial considerations for attending family members.

Further, there was no basis in protocol for the establishment of the Highway of Heroes. However, this singular, uniquely Canadian practice put our method of honouring our fallen on the international stage. This tradition, as it was practised so many times, provided an outlet or a vehicle for ordinary Canadians to salute the men and women of the Canadian Forces and their families for the tremendous sacrifice they made on behalf of all of us.

I believe this singular event, while it was tremendously comforting to the families of the fallen, spawned a feeling of national pride and patriotism the likes of which we have not seen since World War II. The support for our Canadian Forces and our men and women in uniform reached an unprecedented level.

I personally believe fully in the merits, purpose, and benefits of having a nationally recognized protocol for funerals. With every one of these remarkable events, we recognize remarkable Canadians, and by doing so we make a contribution to the history of this great nation. Having a nationally recognized protocol is essential on a go-forward basis for the ongoing establishment and maintenance of our ceremonial traditions and processes.

However, having been involved for over a decade in the implementation of these various initiatives to memorialize, on a national stage, remarkable Canadians, I've become aware of some of the difficulties with interpreting protocol on a one-size-fits-all basis. The concern is that not everybody fits the circumstances that are drawn out in specific protocols.

I believe we need clear direction, with examples of how the protocol is to be implemented and with examples of variations that can be substituted as warranted. This direction should be from a singular national voice that serves as a keeper of the records for traditions, practices, and protocols.

I was asked to oversee the burial at Beechwood for our fallen from Afghanistan. Extensive direction concerning this sort of service is available from the Canadian Forces; however, this guide was written for a time when the funeral process was very different. Today in Canada, approximately 60% of our population opts for cremation rather than earth burial. The number of non-denominational, non-Christian, and non-religious funerals is growing proportionately with our population growth.

At Beechwood Cemetery here in Ottawa, they began to use an ark to carry the urn of a deceased person and to use four pallbearers to convey the urn from the hearse to the grave. This became an accepted practice at our National Military Cemetery. However, if this piece of equipment is not widely accepted or available in other cemeteries in Canada, this protocol then becomes impractical and in many cases impossible. Even the current flag-folding protocol, as it appears on various sites, I don't believe has ever been blessed as the Canadian way of folding our Canadian flag.

I'll share a brief story to demonstrate the importance of this. The flag protocol—the one that is widely used but not yet approved—as it's demonstrated on various federal websites is not easily accomplished with the flag that is provided by the Canadian Forces. The flag identified with the NATO stock number was a nylon flag and subsequently very slippery for pallbearers to grasp and fold crisply. We designed—our company designed—and produced a heavier canvas bunting-type flag that was far more conducive to this. It is now used widely throughout Canada and has become an industry standard as a casket flag. This is just an example to show only that the protocol or standard didn't meet the need satisfactorily and was not suited for the application.

For this reason, I would respectfully suggest that any future guidelines that are written or implemented should be a result of significant and extensive consultation and participation with stakeholders and experts such as funeral directors, clergypersons from all faiths, and those who have participated recently in ceremonies. Further, dissemination of the information should be online on the DHH website for all to see as needed. In addition, the historical significance, the origin, and the basis for the practice or tradition should be recorded so we don't lose sight of the reasons for why we do the things we do.

I thank you all for your time.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Cole.

We now go to Mr. Head.

May 10th, 2012 / 11:25 a.m.

Don Head Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Thank you.

Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.

I'm feeling a little out of place here amongst the hoteliers, venue managers, and funeral directors. I hope there's no hidden message there.

11:25 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

11:25 a.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

And please don't take any message by the fact that I'm here with you.

11:25 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

11:25 a.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

I'm pleased to have the opportunity to appear before you today as part of your study on national protocol procedures.

At the Correctional Service of Canada, we're proud of our long and distinguished history of contributing to public safety. As you may be aware, our history dates back to 1835, and as such there's always been a sense of pride and honour associated with contributing to the public safety of Canadians.

As part of this, the Correctional Service of Canada is committed to honouring the tradition of ceremony and has taken action to ensure that this remains a priority for years to come. Today I'll provide you with a summary of the protocols or guidelines we follow within the Correctional Service of Canada.

Over the last several years, I've asked my agency to ensure that we are following proper protocols on a regional, national, and international basis. CSC is often called upon to participate in local, national, and international events, and as such we have taken steps to ensure that the participation of our staff and ceremonial units follows consistent protocols that portray a proper and respectful image of Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada.

In relation to the questions of the committee, it's important to note, Mr. Chair, that CSC does not have any formal manuals or guidebooks detailing protocols to be followed for events such as funerals or state visits. Consequently, my staff work with colleagues from the Department of Canadian Heritage as well as our partners within the Public Safety portfolio.

As you know, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Forces have well-established manuals that CSC references for such ceremonies and events. That being said, the Correctional Service of Canada has established two formal protocols, one for our change-of-command ceremonies and one for the half-masting of the national flag of Canada within CSC, which was developed in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Mr. Chair, change-of-command ceremonies are an important part of CSC's history. They represent the formal symbolic passing of responsibility, authority, and accountability of command from one correctional leader to another, whether they are wardens, regional deputy commissioners, or district directors. The ceremony provides the outgoing leader an opportunity to say goodbye to their staff and the incoming incumbent an opportunity to meet the women and men who contribute to the public safety of Canadians. By establishing proper protocols for these events, CSC has maintained an important tradition that dates back to our early history.

In addition to these protocols, CSC has developed a number of informal guidelines for our ceremonial unit. They include guidelines for the ceremonial guard as well as our volunteers in the pipes and drums unit.

Mr. Chair, if I may, I would take a few moments to talk about these important initiatives. CSC's ceremonial guard is filled on a voluntary basis. It consists of employees from across the country who often volunteer their personal time to participate in such events as graduation ceremonies, Remembrance Day parades, community events, and the national police and peace officers memorial in September. These women and men are proud of the work they do and the communities they serve on a daily basis.

CSC's pipes and drums unit is also filled on a voluntary basis by a combination of Correctional Service of Canada employees and community members. Individuals purchase their own equipment, which can cost upwards of thousands of dollars, to participate in this ceremonial group. I'm proud to have them as representatives of our organization.

It should be noted, Mr. Chair, that the safety and security of our staff, the offenders, and communities are never jeopardized as a result of staff participation in these units or ceremonial events. Decisions about attendance at events are made by the institutional head, always ensuring that the safety and security of our institutions and communities take priority over the attendance of staff at such events. In the vast majority of cases, staff actually volunteer to participate at these events on their own time.

In closing, I'm proud that CSC has made significant progress in defining the ceremonial protocols and procedures for our organization. I'm extremely proud of the work that the women and men within CSC do every day, and equally proud of how they represent the agency and Canada at events and ceremonies.

I can assure you that maintaining historical customs and following proper ceremonial protocols will continue to be of great importance to me and my organization.

Mr. Chair, I'd be happy to answer any questions you or the committee members may have.