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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

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Nantel.

Mr. Simms, please go ahead.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal 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 Liberal 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.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

I will be bold enough to say on behalf of us all that it would be quite appreciated if you could, because I do get a lot of calls, especially from a civilian perspective, on how to do things to respect the military but at the same time keep with protocols.

To me, this book is a great guideline. I think one of the things that we've talked about quite a bit in these hearings is that it's nice to have a general guideline as to protocols regarding flags, anthems, badges, insignias, and that sort of thing, especially from the civilian part of it. It would be nice to have one guide, and most people believe that it should be Canadian Heritage that does it for the general public, for public ceremonies that are arranged by civilians not familiar with protocol. They want to implement the protocols that you have because they want to do it by the book. I mean, they're not rigid, but certainly they want to do it by the book.

You deal with Canadian Heritage on this. Is that correct? In what way do you deal with them now? Did you say that you have one section of your manual that deals with Canadian Heritage?

12:30 p.m.

LCol Marcel Beaudry

Where there is Canadian protocol, for example, regarding flags or orders for national and provincial flags, and that sort of thing, they are the authority, and what we put in our book is what comes from Canadian Heritage. What else comes from Canadian Heritage? Flags, anthems, forms of address, and ceremonial information concerning matters for those who are royal, vice-regal, or heads of state. We look to them to be the authority on that.

So what we put in our manuals reflects accepted Canadian national protocol. The rest is internal to the CF.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Yes, and I think a lot of people would say they'd like to have one book similar to this—obviously not designed just for the military—with protocols for things you mentioned, such as the symbols of this country. Would you care to share your opinion on that as well? How do you deal with Canadian Heritage and what they do with flags, or is this your own?

12:30 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

This is our own. We've had some interesting discussions with our military partners in the past, if I can put it that way, because the traditions that we follow are the traditions that our members have dictated that we will.

For example, up until a few years ago, we used to dip all flags, including the Canadian flag. Whenever we were at ceremonies with our military partners this was a cause for concern, because the Canadian flag is not dipped. However, in our tradition it always was. Up until about the time of the convention in 2008, that was our process. In 2008, the members directed otherwise, so that's no longer part of our tradition. So there are certain things that might be unique to the Legion that would not be supported by the military partners or Canadian Heritage. There are these discrepancies that would still have to be observed. We follow the direction our members give us, as long as nothing is illegal.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Yes, that's a point. I think a lot of people, especially from the civilian side, are very nervous about doing the wrong thing or offending anybody. We've always had a lot of our Remembrance Day ceremonies dictated by World War I and World War II veterans. The reason I say that is because our World War I and World War II veterans—I'm from Newfoundland—fought under the Union Jack, not under the Canadian flag. So sometimes there's a little bit of tension there.

Nonetheless, I do want to congratulate you on this, and I look forward to seeing the updated version.

12:35 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

Excellent. Thank you.

If I may add, though, it is currently on our website at legion.ca under “Publications”. You can find a full copy of that manual in English and French.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Okay, that's great.

That's good for me.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Simms.

Mr. Armstrong, go ahead for seven minutes.

May 15th, 2012 / 12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

I want to thank all our guests for being here. I want to thank you for your service to the Legion, and of course for your service to the country.

Mr. Clark, on the dipping of the flags, obviously you've had a change in the protocol over the last several years. How do you get that message out there to all your branches? What type of communication do you use to make a change like that?

12:35 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

At our dominion convention, which happens every two years, the policies and procedures that the Legion will follow for the next two years are set. We have a report that goes to every branch. So it identifies all the resolutions and all the changes in policies and procedures that have happened. However, if you're looking at a manual, you may not go through it and pick up on that. So we have committees, such as the ritual and awards committee, that do address these issues specifically.

When major changes like this happen, we have a couple of ways to communicate those to all of our branches. We have all-branch distributions that go through Canada Post, so every single branch gets a copy of any policy change that's very important, that we need to draw their attention to. We also distribute things electronically so that information gets out. We use our partners, our provincial commands, to assist in getting the information to their branches as well. It does not take long for information to get disseminated to the local branches, particularly on issues like this that are important.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

If we as a government, or the Department of Heritage or some other department in government, were to do a national protocol, which of course would probably link to whatever website you had put up there, do you think that would be advantageous for you internally, as well as externally for the greater population?

12:35 p.m.

Director, National Remembrance Day Ceremony, Royal Canadian Legion

Steven Clark

If I can speak about information for the Royal Canadian Legion, yes, it would be. We would still have to respect the protocols we have in place, but by all means—and in fact currently, in my role as director, I often visit the Canadian Heritage site to find out what the position of Canadian Heritage is on particular issues. For the public at large, it would be, absolutely, because in the case of the question from the second gentleman, there may not be Legion branches, there may not be military institutions, there may not be areas that look after these traditions that Canadians have come to honour and respect. So having a resource available to everyone, regardless of where you are, would be great.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you very much.

I'm going to move on to the Department of National Defence.

We've heard some discussion over the last several days about the folding of flags. Does the Department of National Defence have a protocol for the way you fold flags at a funeral or in other circumstances?

12:35 p.m.

Maj Guy Turpin

Absolutely. There's one set way. It will actually be updated in one of our publications when we get to that update. It's clearly established and clearly demonstrated. It's a visual. It's not only words.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

We've also heard some concerns that some flag materials are more difficult to fold than others. Are there any recommendations you have? Is there a certain type of material for the military's flags?

12:35 p.m.

Maj Guy Turpin

Actually, last week we signed off on a sample of a new Canadian national flag to be put on caskets, specifically for burials of military personnel. We went through a process with our acquisitions folks, and it will be in the Canadian Forces supply system within the next couple of months.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

That's the way the Department of National Defence folds flags. Are you aware of other ways, such as in the police departments? What we're looking for is the Canadian way. If we followed what the Department of National Defence does and kind of made it the Canadian way, would you see that as stepping on anyone's toes? Would that cause problems for other organizations that have protocols you're aware of?

12:35 p.m.

Maj Guy Turpin

The folding of the national flag policy was established hand in hand with the Department of Canadian Heritage. On matters of the national flag, everything is done in concurrence with Canadian Heritage.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

We could actually call that the Canadian method of folding flags for ceremonial purposes.

12:35 p.m.

Maj Guy Turpin

That is my understanding.