This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #27 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

Nicole Bourget  Assistant Deputy Minister, Sport, Major Events and Regions, Department of Canadian Heritage
Joel Girouard  Acting Director, State Ceremonial and Protocol Directorate, Department of Canadian Heritage
Denis Racine  Executive Director, Major Events and Celebrations, Department of Canadian Heritage
Audrey O'Brien  Clerk of the House of Commons, House of Commons
Elizabeth Rody  Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada
Eric Janse  Clerk Assistant and Director General, International and Interparliamentary Affairs, Parliament of Canada

12:10 p.m.

Elizabeth Rody Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

As Senator Dickson was still a senator, the office of the Black Rod was responsible for assisting parliamentarians at the funeral. It was not a state funeral. The Black Rod's office also assists when former senators pass away, and it assists with the funeral.

In terms of parliamentarians, I must admit I don't know if it's ever happened. I've never been requested to assist in the funeral of a parliamentarian or a sitting parliamentarian. We do work closely when it is, again, a state funeral, such as for Mr. Layton, or things like that.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

The family was very pleased with the communication, the support, and the protocol that went on with that—where someone sat at the funeral— it was very well coordinated. It was done in a very respectful manner, so I wanted to pass that along to you.

As a member of Parliament, I had no idea. How would I find out, as a member of Parliament, if something like that happened again, what the actual protocol is? Would I call your office, Elizabeth? How would I find out?

12:10 p.m.

Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

Elizabeth Rody

Yes, and I think you also have a very good point. Perhaps there should have been better coordination between the office of the Black Rod and my office, because I think Mr. Dickson was from your riding and there was a lot of interest by parliamentarians.

I also would like to highlight that in the case of Mr. Layton, we were responsible for the lying in state here on Parliament Hill, but my office also travelled to Toronto, just to lend a hand to parliamentarians, to assist parliamentarians attending the funeral.

We try to collaborate where we can, but I think it's a good point for some—

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

For parliamentarians, we would call your office. On the Senate side, it's more the Black Rod.

12:15 p.m.

Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you.

The IPU event in Quebec, as you know, I'm very involved in that. Do you want to just talk about some of the protocol procedures we're going to have in place for that, and the work that's gone into that?

12:15 p.m.

Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

Elizabeth Rody

Yes. It's a huge conference. There are a lot of different types of protocols. I think where we have our biggest event will be the inauguration. We would like the Governor General to attend, and there's a whole protocol around his attending an event, so we work very closely with Rideau Hall for that particular event.

In terms of other types of protocols, we just extend the normal kinds of courtesies to parliamentarians. We make sure there are no diplomatic incidents with their arriving in the country, with visas and those types of questions. It really does run pretty much like a committee, all of the sessions. We are bound also by some protocol rules by the international secretariat, so we, again, try to blend all this together. It's not as formal an event as a state event or a visit by a president of country; that being said, it's a huge logistical effort. My team, we do a bit of both. We do protocol and logistics, and we try to make sure all of these elements are brought together so that the Parliament of Canada will have a very successful conference.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Going into a given year, often you're going to have events spring up on you that you have to organize and coordinate. How do you budget? How do you anticipate a budget and where does your budget come from?

12:15 p.m.

Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

Elizabeth Rody

I'll let Mr. Janse answer that one.

12:15 p.m.

Eric Janse Clerk Assistant and Director General, International and Interparliamentary Affairs, Parliament of Canada

The international affairs office is a joint directorate, as the clerk mentioned in her opening remarks, so we're resourced, both financially and in terms of human resources, from both the Senate and the House of Commons.

There are a number of different budgets that we manage. Depending on the event, the financing comes from different budgets. If it's something sponsored by the Speakers, it comes from the Speakers' budgets. If it's related to a parliamentary association, it would be the association budget that covers it.

In many cases we assist other departments, and they're the lead departments, so they would assume the costs. For example, when Elizabeth and some of her staff went to Toronto for Mr. Layton's funeral, it was Canadian Heritage that assumed the travel costs for them to go down and assist.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Who makes the final decision on that? Would that be a decision that the clerk makes? Which departments actually...? What I'm saying is that sometimes they could overlap.

Has that ever happened? How do you work that out? Or do you just work that out internally somehow?

12:15 p.m.

Clerk Assistant and Director General, International and Interparliamentary Affairs, Parliament of Canada

Eric Janse

There are discussions, and we always come to an agreement.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Always.

12:15 p.m.

Clerk Assistant and Director General, International and Interparliamentary Affairs, Parliament of Canada

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Okay. That's good.

For events like the Libya event we had, the celebration of that, who coordinates that specifically? Is there a set protocol for those types of events?

12:15 p.m.

Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

Elizabeth Rody

This was a joint effort. Of course this was a desire of the government to have this ceremony, so different groups came together—National Defence, the Privy Council, the working group of parliamentary protocol, Foreign Affairs—and they kind of divided up the work, if you want.

This was led by a general of the Canadian Forces who developed the scenarios. Our part here on the Hill was to offer the services and the logistics, to coordinate security and the attendance of members of Parliament and senators.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

How much time do I have left?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

One minute.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

The last question I have, then, is that outside of the buildings of Parliament, we have the statues and we have gazebos. For events that are held out there, or the statues themselves, who coordinates whose statue gets put out there? How does that fall in terms of protocol?

12:15 p.m.

Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

Elizabeth Rody

I'm not 100% certain, but I believe that's Canadian Heritage. The statues are managed by the National Capital Commission. I think there's a joint effort there.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

So if someone was looking to do something like that, they would call the Department of Canadian Heritage and find out the protocol for establishing that.

12:15 p.m.

Chief of Protocol and Director of Events, IIA, Parliament of Canada

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Great. Thank you.

That's all I have.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.

Mr. Dubé.

May 1st, 2012 / 12:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank the witnesses for being here. I know that you are very busy people. So, it is greatly appreciated.

You mentioned something very interesting. Actually, we've already heard some witnesses before you, people from Canadian Heritage who arrange protocol events. You spoke about flexibility, but everyone here today knows very well that Parliament is a place where traditions are deeply entrenched, for instance, in how we do things in the House, during votes, and so on. This also applies when we have guests from the provinces or from other countries.

You spoke about the importance of having some flexibility. Given that tradition is very important on Parliament Hill, how do you reconcile these two realities to ensure that you are both flexible and uphold traditions?