Evidence of meeting #31 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 heritage.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Steven Clark  Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion
  • Steven Heiter  Secretary, Dominion Ritual and Awards Committee, Royal Canadian Legion
  • Marcel Beaudry  Inspector of Canadian Forces Colours and Badges, Department of National Defence
  • Guy Turpin  Directorate of History and Heritage 3, Department of National Defence
  • Warrant Officer Alain Grenier  Directorate of History and Heritage 3-2, Department of National Defence

12:20 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

It's quite easy for those areas that have Legion branches to follow that format, but that's not always the case. As you brought up, there are situations when there are no Legion branches in a particular area. It's difficult to respond to how you would in fact conduct a proper commemorative ceremony, other than to say that you would have interested parties or other service organizations that would take on that leading role.

We have often assisted other service organizations that have contacted us, particularly closer to the remembrance period. They are looking for guidance on how to conduct a remembrance ceremony. We have members of the clergy, who are non-Legion members, who want to know what they should do on Remembrance Sunday and if they should do anything in particular or special.

Where we do not have a presence in a community, we try to offer guidance or suggestions when we're asked by organizations that may be concerned with that particular area in their community.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

My next question is addressed to the Department of National Defence. It has to do with comments we have heard since we began to study the issue of protocol. Overall, I get the impression, as do several other people here, that things are going well. Communications between the various people responsible for protocol is quite good because they are all specialists. These are people who know what they are doing and speak to each other, achieving a good balance between adapting to different situations and established protocol.

However, last week, someone—the person who spoke the most—mentioned potential problems with protocol coordination. That person was alluding to funeral services for remains of soldiers that died in combat I believe. Did you feel any particular tensions around recent services?

12:20 p.m.

LCol Marcel Beaudry

I did not have that impression.

Are you aware of anything?

12:20 p.m.

Major Guy Turpin Directorate of History and Heritage 3, Department of National Defence

In the fall of last year, we buried a First World War veteran, soldier Johnston. We were dealing with MacKinnon & Bowes, who had received the contract. It was a task-based contract. We have been working with MacKinnon & Bowes for many years now for all of the overseas funeral services. MacKinnon & Bowes is also the company that has the contract for all fatalities taking place overseas during operations. When remains are transported back to the country, MacKinnon & Bowes supplies the mortuary services.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Turpin, has this company had the contract for a long time?

12:25 p.m.

Maj Guy Turpin

If I'm not mistaken, the contract was signed towards the end of 2009-2010, for all deceased born before 1970.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Since 2009-2010, it has been a new company. There was another one beforehand, was there not?

12:25 p.m.

Maj Guy Turpin

No. We were also dealing with MacKinnon & Bowes, but the contract had not been signed. It was done on an ad hoc basis.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

That's fine. So, since 2009, the contract has been given to the same company.

Obviously, your organization knows all about protocol, and that's all very well. How did you react when there was an issue about flags flown at half-mast, in 2006 I believe? There were too many people, brave soldiers, dying over there. It was decided that protocol would not be respected. What did you think of that situation? Were you already there? I suppose so.

12:25 p.m.

LCol Marcel Beaudry

In our ceremonial manual, there are rules about flying flags at half-mast. Unless we receive special instructions, all flags must be flown at half-mast at all defence institutions as well as aboard ships as soon as the death is announced, and they remain so until sunset on the day of the funeral or memorial service if the deceased is the sovereign, the Governor General, the Prime Minister, a family member of the sovereign, a former governor general, a former prime minister, a Chief Justice of Canada, a member of the Canadian cabinet, a member of the Privy Council or a senator.

If the deceased is a military member of the Canadian armed forces sent to an area of operations on a mission, as in the case you mentioned, flags must be flown at half-mast as follows. All the flags of the operations force to which the member was assigned at the time of his or her decease must be flown at half-mast, from the day of the decease until sunset on the day of the funeral. All the flags of the regiment the member belonged to must be flown at half-mast, from the day of decease until sunset on the day of the funeral. All the flags of the service—sea, land or air—to which the member was assigned must be flown at half-mast but only on the day of the funeral, from sunrise to sunset, and all the flags at National Defence Headquarters at 101 Colonel By must be flown at half-mast, from the day of the decease until sunset the day of the funeral.

For us, that's fairly clear. As to what goes on on Parliament Hill, that is out of our jurisdiction. As you saw at the beginning, my comments on flying flags at half-mast have been fairly limited.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Nantel.

Mr. Simms, please go ahead.

May 15th, 2012 / 12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Thank you.

Thank you to our guests as well.

Just a quick question to start. I'm just glancing through this. I've seen snippets of this before—articles taken from it—but I've never seen it in full.

Have you sent these to all members of Parliament and senators?

12:25 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

No, we have not.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

May I suggest to the MPs that every MP and senator should have one of these—at their own expense? The reason why I say that is because I get quite a few calls from groups that want to honour troops in Afghanistan—whether they've been to Libya or wherever it may be—but they don't know about protocol.

I have 195 towns in my riding, and some of them don't have a Legion. Most of them don't, so they call me, and we go through it on a piecemeal basis. But it would be ideal if we could get several of these. Actually, I find this quite good. It's quite descriptive and it's one of the best things I've seen.

It's just a humble suggestion.

12:30 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

We'll certainly take that suggestion back. It will be updated following our convention this June, so anything that we would send would be delayed until the fall, but we can certainly look at that.