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Evidence of meeting #29 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

Margaret Huber  Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Calvin Christiansen  Director General, Border Operations Centre and Major Events Directorate, Operations Branch, Canada Border Services Agency
Charles Reeves  Associate Chief of Protocol and Director, Official Events Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Doug Goodings  Executive Coordinator of Certification and Accreditation, Ontario Fire College, Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario
Stewart Kellock  Chair, Canadian Police Ceremonial Units Association
Robert Kirkpatrick  President, Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation
John Sobey  Director, Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation
Glen Gillies  Honour Guard Member, Toronto Emergency Medical Services Honour Guard, National Alliance of Canadian Emergency Medical Services Honour Guards

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

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

I'll pass it on to...the provincial government was probably....

May 8th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

[Inaudible—Editor]

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

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

What's that? That's why we call them progressive.

11:45 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

As I mentioned earlier, our office works very closely with our provincial and territorial colleagues across Canada. We make a point of getting together once a year to compare notes on best practices, new approaches—for example, the use of iPads rather than large briefing books—what works, what doesn't. It's very useful, and it makes it that much easier to pick up the phone when you need help or when you want to offer help.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

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

Would you say that the partnerships, the relationships, with the provinces have strengthened in recent years because of their...? It seems to me they're reaching out more internationally. That's why I ask.

11:45 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

I can't speak for the previous period, but I can tell you, in all honesty, that they are excellent now. From time to time, we also exchange staff for short periods for secondments. For example, just in the short time that I've been chief of protocol, we've had two secondments from the bureau du protocole du Québec, with members of their staff working with us for periods of two weeks to a month. This was to exchange information about approaches. I know that my colleagues within the Office of Protocol learned as much from them as they probably learned from us.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Christiansen, when a foreign delegation comes with a head of state...some of the pictures I see here of massive planes with a massive amount of staff. How difficult is that to manage? These people are not prone to be looked at with a skeptical eye per se, but you have to do it.

11:45 a.m.

Director General, Border Operations Centre and Major Events Directorate, Operations Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

Calvin Christiansen

It's a good point. It is difficult to manage. It does require extensive coordination. I can give an example. We have advance information on any aircraft in the air right now on its way to Canada, including the advance passenger information, the personal name record data. That's how we manage the risk of what's coming into Canada.

When it comes to a situation like this, we get much more data than this. We get a full listing of the names, the passport numbers, and everything to do with everyone who's on that flight. We can do risk assessment review well before their arrival. The short turnaround arrivals, like the situation you mentioned that could potentially have happened in Newfoundland, doesn't tend to happen very often in our world.

We have a great deal of information in advance, and we have set up processes whereby we can facilitate the entry of those people. The other problem about coordination is what happens when you have an aircraft with this mass of people arriving at an airport and starting to intermingle with the rest of the passengers who are arriving on regular flights.

We have processes whereby we can keep that aside and keep the regular processing going while dealing with that, either as a courtesy clearance or as an expedited clearance. We do quite a few of these over the course of the year, and they don't tend to happen at a lot of locations either. We are familiar with process at the major airports. We wouldn't see this type of thing happen at small land border crossings, for example. They tend to happen in airports and they tend to happen in our busier airports.

We have fixed-base operators where private aircraft arrive, and these groups are taken out of the regular stream.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

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

The smaller, private—

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

You are a minute over. We will have to wrap it up there, Mr. Simms.

We will go to Mr. Armstrong.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's great to know that 50 new international delegates have been “Screeched” into Newfoundland. That's a good thing for Atlantic Canada to have events like that, and we appreciate the provincial government putting those on.

If we're looking to change some of these protocols or go back to some, for example, the Governor General carriaging in, what would the process be to make those changes as chief of protocol?

11:50 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

It would be through consultation—for example, with the office of the Governor General. It would be consultation as well with, say, our legal colleagues to make sure that whatever change we were proposing did not conflict with our obligations under the Vienna convention—not that it would be to provide a carriage, but you get my gist.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

I understand.

In the end it's your call, based on that consultation.

If the decision was made at some level of government that the Governor General should be carriaged in, and I'm not saying that's what we should be doing, but if someone were to talk to you about that and you would go through the steps to make that happen, in the end it would be your initiative, your offices, that makes that happen.

11:50 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

With the willing and enthusiastic consent of all concerned.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

What you would do is heavily consult with several different people before that change is made, but in the end you would be the one making that change.

11:50 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

That's right.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

What kind of budget do you have? Does your budget change based on the year you're going to project, if we're having an Olympics or some sort of summit here? Do you make a bunch of proposals? How is your budget formed?

11:50 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

We actually have budgets under the international conference allotment as well as the general hospitality allotment. These are sums entrusted to the Office of Protocol by the Treasury Board, for which we are entirely accountable, of course, and sums that are not spent are returned to the budgets. We don't keep them. We are very mindful, I should add, of costs and of value for money, and we are very often looking for ways to still have the same impact but with a more modest approach.

Charles will be very familiar with these efforts, and I'm pleased to say that they have been quite successful. At the same time, we are mindful, too, that we have standards to uphold. It is also very important that treatment of guests of government, for example, be done in a way that Canadians can also be proud of.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

We have the IPU coming, for example, in October. What would the interaction of your office be in preparation for that event in Quebec?

11:50 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

The IPU falls under the responsibility of parliamentary protocol, but certainly we've already discussed it with them. We offer advice and support, and for the head of the organization, we also offer the kind of airport transfer facilitation that I mentioned earlier.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Basically you're there to consult. It's up to them to contact you for what support they need. They can provide advice, and maybe some staff support on specific issues?

11:50 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

Perhaps I could ask my colleagues, if you agree, to what extent they may have already been involved in this.

11:50 a.m.

Charles Reeves Associate Chief of Protocol and Director, Official Events Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

To date, I've just had discussions with parliamentary protocol about offering assistance, but we haven't narrowed down the nitty-gritty of where they would need assistance at this point.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

When the Olympics took place, was your department heavily involved in coordinating some of the wonderful events that took place out in British Columbia?

11:50 a.m.

Chief of Protocol of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Margaret Huber

We were very busy during that period because there was a plethora of high-level visitors attending the events. It's also complicated because of course the Olympics have their own protocol as well. It was an event for which some of our colleagues were based semi-permanently in Vancouver, just to deal with the sheer volume of responsibilities. It all came off exceedingly well.

That was before I took over as chief of protocol, so this is why I turned to my colleagues.