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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

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

It's a bit of a concern for us on this side. We've spent a considerable amount of time studying protocol, and there has been an assumption, or obfuscation, on the part of the government that we don't have a proper protocol for folding the flag. Today we're hearing that we already have one.

The problem is that when you go on the Heritage Canada website and you click on “Folding the National Flag”, it only says “Directions for folding the National Flag of Canada are coming soon.” But if we already have a way of folding the flag, why is that not simply put on the Heritage Canada website? I think that's something that you guys can send little notes back to your folks to work on.

That flows to one other question.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

I have a point of order. Is it the member's supposition that we shouldn't be studying anything because it might not be on the website?

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

No.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

That is his job and that's the job of the committee.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Is this debate or a point of order?

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

No, it's not a point of order.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

All right. Fair enough. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The government is talking about establishing some kind of national protocol handbook. How would it work if other jurisdictions were establishing protocol for your organization? Say the Canadian military was going to write the protocol for the Legion or vice versa, or let's say the protocol office in Parliament was going to write the protocol for everybody, how is that going to work? Would that be cool with you guys if someone else wrote your protocol?

12:45 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

May I answer that?

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Sure.

12:45 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

No. We would appreciate the guidance that a reference would provide. However, we would still have to fall back on our own internal practices and policies if we had a specific question. It would be advantageous to have information available. But that information should still acknowledge that there may be uniquenesses, depending on the different concerns that organizations may have.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Thank you so much.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Cash.

Next is Mr. Tilson.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

To echo Mr. Simms, I think you've put out a wonderful book, and I agree that all members of Parliament should have it. I had a question last year from a constituent on how you dispose of a flag that's worn or not of any use, and we called the local Legion. I didn't know you dispose of it privately by burning, which is interesting, but that's the protocol. So the constituent was pleased to hear about that, and did that.

I also want to congratulate...I guess it's the Legion. We have a family cottage, and when I was a young boy we had a flag on a flag pole. At sunset and sunrise I had to raise the flag and lower it. Sun or pouring rain, I had to do that. I remember asking my dad, why do I have to do this in the pouring rain? He said, because that's the etiquette.

I'm glad to see that it's not contrary to etiquette to have the flag flying at night. I wish you had done that years ago.

I have a quick question about the schools. This would be to the Legion representatives. Everyone...well, not everyone, but people talk about educating the youth to appreciate what has gone on by our soldiers in past conflicts—it's not as much, but it happens. Many—and I'm speaking specifically of your Remembrance Day services—of the Remembrance Day services in my riding—and I don't have as many as Mr. Simms, but I have quite a few—are organized by Legions. Two in particular, in the towns of Orangeville and Shelburne, have outstanding ceremonies for anything they do, and I'm sure they have this book and follow it. Others are municipalities, service groups, and more particularly the schools. Schools individually have services.

My question is, do you encourage your members, the local Legions, to attend municipalities or schools and make suggestions as to what the appropriate protocol is to conduct a Remembrance Day service, or any other service for that matter?

12:50 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

The Legion recognizes that the importance of educating youth on remembrance is paramount. We do a couple of things—and then I'll get back to your specific question.

The first one is a remembrance contest that we have every year. Every year we encourage Canadian students to show us what remembrance means to them. They can do this through a literary composition, a poem or an essay, or they can do it through artistic means, a black and white or a colour poster.

This has been going on since the early 1950s. For the last six years, anyway, we have had at least 100,000 students across the country who participate in this contest on an annual basis. We encourage our Legion branches in all the communities across the country to go into the schools to talk remembrance with the students, particularly around the remembrance period but not exclusively at that time—to talk about remembrance, what remembrance means to them, talk about the contest, and to also talk about remembrance ceremonies.

Quite often schools would like to have observances during the remembrance period but cannot take a full hour out of their schedule to hold a commemoration. How do they do that? The Legions are able to offer guidance on how to do that.

Another way we promote remembrance to youth is through our teachers' guide. Effective the first of May of this year, on our website at legion.ca, we have a new interactive multimedia teachers' reference, so that a teacher can go onto the site, and if they want to know how to commemorate properly or how they should do certain things, they're able to use this as a resource.

We also work closely with our partners in Veterans Affairs Canada in getting information out to all of our schools. We've been working with them for a number of years on promoting remembrance to students. Collectively, we realize this is an important issue, and we have undertaken these initiatives to achieve the goal of ensuring that remembrance is perpetuated.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Well done. That's good news.

Do I have any time left?

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

You have 10 seconds.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Oh, have a nice day, Mr. Chairman.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Tilson.

Ms. Sitsabaiesan.

May 15th, 2012 / 12:50 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

And thank you to all of you for joining us today.

Last week we heard from a Calgary funeral director that when it comes to the funeral of a fallen Calgary police officer, the protocol is so tight that oftentimes they aren't able to accommodate the wants or wishes of the family.

When it comes to your protocol manuals, is there room to deviate from the manual that you currently follow to make room for accommodations for newer or different customs that the family may want? I'm thinking of newer Canadians, families who may be choosing cremation rather than burials. Do your manuals allow for the family's wishes?

12:50 p.m.

LCol Marcel Beaudry

The Manual of Drill and Ceremonial has a chapter on funerals and religious services. For the funeral, it lays out exactly what is authorized according to the rank of the deceased. It does have a short section on cremation, but basically it is all built on the traditional coffin, with a service in the church or the chapel with the coffin present.

But you can always scale down from the full monty, if you wish. If the family wants to have a more simple service, it is very easy to scale down to meet the family's wishes, and in fact it is written into the manual that the family's wishes will be respected as much as possible.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

I'm just thinking of someone who is perhaps a Hindu. We don't use chapels, so if your entire protocol is based on a chapel service or a church service...what do you mean by saying not allowing for the full monty or to water it down for someone who doesn't want that specific service? I would think that somebody who serves our country who is of the Hindu or Islamic or Bahá'í faith, or is Catholic or Christian or whatever it may be, that they've all paid the same price and the family should have the equal amount of respect or dues paid or honour paid to that person.

Is there leeway for the family's wishes?

12:55 p.m.

LCol Marcel Beaudry

Absolutely. In the chaplaincy of the Canadian Forces, we currently have chaplins of the Muslim and Jewish faiths, as well as the Christian faiths. Beyond that, it's not really my area of expertise, but certainly we do turn to the chaplaincy to guide us. We will offer the family whatever we have in our ceremonial that appeals to them.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

That's really good to hear.

Mr. Beaudry, you also mentioned that you have a one-and-a-half-inch binder or a two-inch binder of protocol for this event and that type of event. You mentioned three different types of events. Does it make sense to have a national protocol manual that brings everything together?

Mr. Clark or Mr. Heiter, I don't remember who was reading it in your testimony, but I think you mentioned the Lament and the Rouse and how the order is different between the Legion's practices versus the military's practices. So if we were to bring together and create a national protocol manual, how would we know which to follow, and would that even make sense? Does it make sense to bring together all of the practices and traditions and protocol that all the different facets of the honourers of our heritage have been practising over the years? Does it make sense to bring it together into one manual and say this is how we do it in Canada?

12:55 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

I wouldn't say that it should be this is how we do it. This is how we suggest that perhaps you proceed, realizing that there are variances.

I did say with regard to the way we do the commemorations that it differs from the military. The military, on September 12, 2011, did put out a CANFORGEN, which did acknowledge that there are variances when it comes to the order of service, so that in certain circumstances you can have the Lament before the Rouse on the military side. So in fact they have recognized that, and I think any manual or any reference that Canadian Heritage does would also have to be cognizant of those variances that do exist.

There needs to be an established procedure, but that established procedure cannot be rigid. It has to allow for those variances that respect traditions but that also respect the conditions locally.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.

That concludes our committee meeting. Thank you to our witnesses for appearing today. The input you gave us was most helpful for our study.

The committee is adjourned.