Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and committee members. Thank you for your invitation to present a municipal perspective on protocol practices as you conduct your review of national protocol procedures.
The Office of Protocol at the City of Ottawa was established in 2001 with the creation of the amalgamated City of Ottawa. The office supports the mayor in his function of representing the city and the citizens of Ottawa. It operates under the leadership of the chief of protocol, reporting to the city clerk and solicitor.
Given that Ottawa, as the national capital of Canada, is the seat of foreign representatives and the host for significant national and international events and activities involving heads of state, royalty, and high-level delegations, the protocol function assumes a critical role in the projection and promotion of the city's image. Protocol-related events are highly visible activities that affect how the city is perceived at the local, national, and international levels.
Although protocol functions were performed by the pre-amalgamated City of Ottawa, a formal office did not exist. With the creation of a larger capital city, the formation of an Office of Protocol was deemed essential. Along with this determination came the necessity to develop policies and procedures as well as identify the types of events and activities that would be managed by this office.
The Office of Protocol is the office of prime interest in all matters of protocol at the city. As such, it has the responsibility for the development and dissemination of protocol policies and procedures, the organization and management of protocol events and their related activities, and the management of its operation and resources. These responsibilities include planning and implementation of protocol-related events; policy formulation, dissemination, and direction on the use of flags; study tours and visiting delegations; courtesy calls; presentations to council; custody and control over the use of the coat of arms; formulation and issuing of proclamations; management of the protocol gift bank; and the general administrative management of the office.
With the establishment of this office in 2001, an informal consultation process was undertaken with federal, provincial, and municipal protocol offices regarding their protocol practices. During this period of time, in addition to conversations with all levels of government, the websites of both the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade were consulted and continue to be consulted and referenced on a regular basis.
During this exploratory exercise it became apparent that with the exception of specific protocol, such as determining the positioning of flags, styles of address, and orders of precedence, formal protocols pertaining to the planning and execution of events were less prescriptive. The reason for this is to allow flexibility in the planning and execution of specific events. However, over time it became equally apparent that even the more prescribed protocols would have to be modified to reflect municipal practices. For example, within flag protocol, although there would be no deviation from the order in which flags are flown, the directives for the half-masting of flags and the flags that are officially flown at city hall remain at the discretion of the mayor.
Similarly, with the order of precedence, the guidelines provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage are important but are also modified depending on the circumstance. For example, if the mayor is the host of a civic event taking place at City Hall, precedence would be given to the mayor. But if the city is co-hosting an event with the Government of Canada, the Canadian order of precedence would be followed.
Although the City of Ottawa has not been involved in state funerals since amalgamation, it has conducted two lying-in-state ceremonies for former mayors. Elements of state funerals were researched and incorporated with certain elements adapted to reflect these solemn civic events. In these particular instances it was more difficult to locate guidelines in a timely fashion.
The aforementioned are only a few examples of where the guidance and instruction provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage is important, and I would be remiss not to underscore that any protocol procedures established by the Department of Canadian Heritage will always serve as much needed and important reference tools. It must, however, be acknowledged that for governments and organizations outside of the federal jurisdiction, such reference materials will inevitably be modified to reflect policies and practices established by such governments and organizations.
As stated previously, protocol information made available by the Department of Canadian Heritage on its website is helpful and informative. I would respectfully suggest that the current information be expanded to include guidelines for ceremonial events, such as funerals and lying-in-state ceremonies, events that require detailed protocol and must be executed within very stringent timelines. The inclusion of such material would allow access to relevant information in a timely manner.
Thank you for this opportunity, and I welcome your questions.
Standing committee members, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for this opportunity to discuss with you Ontario's policies and practices with respect to its protocol activities.
It's important for all of us who are tasked with advising our respective decision-makers on such events—or indeed leading them—that we have opportunities to come together to learn and to share best practices. Whether we work at the national, provincial, or municipal level, or with military, police, or emergency response units, what we discuss here has a direct impact on our event planning and support processes.
This is especially true because many of us often end up working closely together on such events as partners, with the shared goal of having the most successful outcome possible. On a state visit, for example, or with the upcoming royal visit, Ontario's office of protocol relies on the support of counterparts from the federal and municipal governments; officials from various safety, security, and military organizations; and venue managers and vendors.
In that context, I thought it would be useful to begin by sharing with you an overview of Ontario's Office of International Relations and Protocol—I'm sorry, I have to use an acronym here—the OIRP.
The OIRP is part of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, in Cabinet Office, so it's the equivalent of, in terms of administration, the federal Privy Council Office. As part of a central agency, we serve a broad cross-government coordinating function.
We're a relatively small group of operational and policy specialists. Our protocol side is mainly operational, while our international relations specialists focus mainly on policy.
On the protocol side, our coordinators are assigned functionally—i.e., consular and diplomatic corps; government delegations; ceremonies, including royal visits; and VIPs and official visits.
What guides all of us is a shared understanding of protocol and its importance. In essence, in our view, international protocol is the set of generally accepted behaviours in matters of state and diplomacy through written, and unwritten, guidelines. For governments, nations, and provinces, protocol is a system of conventions, procedures, and symbols that nurture and facilitate relationships—political, commercial, social, cultural—between national and, in our case, subnational governments all around the world.
Now, one of the things that sets Ontario's office of protocol apart is simply that, well, we're Ontario. Ontario's multicultural fabric and rich diversity inform almost everything we do. The fact that so many people from around the globe have made this province their home shapes our world and our work almost every day.
Toronto, of course, is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. About 43% of its population was born outside of Canada. We are home to some of the largest diasporas anywhere, and foreign governments everywhere have noticed. That's why, for example, we have a 100-member consular corps in Toronto—which, I am told, is the second-largest consular corps in North America, after New York City—and one of the largest consular corps in the world. Ontario, as you are acutely aware, is also home to Ottawa, and thus home to the ambassadors and high commissioners who comprise the diplomatic corps.
So what does this mean for my OIRP? Well, we serve as a secretariat for the premier, the lieutenant-governor, the speaker, and our ministers across our provincial government to support their international interactions and events with policy advice and protocol services.
We work to raise Ontario's profile and promote the province's international interests, and we do that both at home and abroad.
At home, we arrange meetings for Ontario government ministers and officials with members of the consular and diplomatic corps and with incoming foreign government representatives, including heads of government and state.
Partly because of our large consular corps, partly because of Toronto's proximity to the diplomatic corps here, and partly because of Ontario's strength as a global trade and investment partner, we average well over 200 such visits and meetings every year, the vast majority of which come through our small shop.
We are the window for the world into the Ontario government. In serving this function, we rely a great deal on the assistance and expertise of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and its office of protocol.
As a province, we're guided in our interactions with leaders from foreign national governments by our own national officials, who have responsibility and jurisdiction for that level of political interaction.
Besides organizing and supporting such bilateral meetings, OIRP also plays a key role in organizing and supporting large international events in Ontario. In June last year, for instance, we had the great privilege of hosting the International Indian Film Academy weekend and awards, the so-called Bollywood awards.
Ontario was also chosen a couple of years ago as the destination jurisdiction for the G-8 and G-20 summits. With over 30 national leaders arriving, our protocol staff, working with our colleagues from both the national and municipal governments, were very busy with official greetings of the incoming heads of governments and with several bilateral meetings that were arranged for our premier on the margins of the summit.
We also promote the province's international interests by getting out there beyond our borders. We plan and implement premier-led missions abroad, which in recent years were to China and India, twice each; to Israel and the Middle East; to the United Kingdom and Italy; and of course to the United States. In this we again rely a great deal on the assistance and expertise of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and its embassies, high commissions, and consulates abroad and on all the services they provide to all of us Canadians.
OIRP also coordinates and executes all protocol and ceremonial events and services. These include the installation of the lieutenant-governor, the swearing in of new governments, the unveiling of official portraits, state funerals for former Ontario premiers and lieutenant-governors, the issuing of what are commonly called green passports through the federal government, advice to stakeholders both within and outside government on protocol practices and policies—the half-masting of flags, the Ontario order of precedence—and royal visits.
In July a couple of years ago, as you will remember, Ontario, along with Nova Scotia and Manitoba were privileged to host the visit of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness. We were responsible for all programming and logistics during the Ontario portion of the visit, and in this we worked very closely as well with the Department of Canadian Heritage and with the Canadian secretary to the Queen, Mr. Kevin MacLeod.
We're also currently working feverishly on the upcoming visit to Canada of their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, in commemoration of Her Majesty the Queen's diamond jubilee.
OIRP also manages the province's special relationships with Jiangsu, which is a province in China, and Baden-Württemberg in Germany. In that context, we leverage our resources by working with colleagues across the Ontario government.
Because there's so much activity across so many sectors, we support and coordinate the signing of memoranda of understanding between Ontario and foreign counterparts. At last count, we had over 250 of such memoranda, of which about half are still active. New ones are being signed regularly.
As with my colleagues here, we also have our jurisdiction's gift banks, housing the unique and, in our case, hand-crafted gifts by Ontario's artists that reflect the province's history, culture, and natural beauty, which the premier and ministers offer to visiting government dignitaries.
Last but not least, our office also manages Ontario's international disaster relief program. This is an activity I'm especially proud of. On more than 40 occasions, the Ontario government has made a financial contribution, usually to the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Red Cross, to assist with relief efforts in disaster zones in countries around the world.
This concludes what I hope is a fairly clear picture of the work our office does. I thank you for your attention, and I'd be pleased to answer any questions you have.
I shall be pleased to answer your questions.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and good morning, everyone.
As the chairman mentioned, I'm the chief of protocol for the Province of Manitoba. I'm probably one of the longer-serving chiefs of protocol in Canada. I've been the chief of protocol there for 14 years. I've served different stripes of government. I've served the Honourable Gary Filmon, the Honourable Gary Doer, past premiers, and currently we have the Honourable Greg Selinger. In my years as chief of protocol for the province of Manitoba I also served for two years as the chief of protocol for the Government of South Australia, working out of Adelaide, for the premier there, the Honourable Mike Rann.
First of all, I want to applaud the federal government and all of you for initiating this approach to better understanding and making better use of protocols on national, provincial, and municipal levels. I hope at the end of the day what we'll have is a start to a process that might foster better relations and understanding of the protocols involved among all three levels of government and a better understanding of the process that all of us work within.
Having said that—and a lot of this will sound like an echo or a ditto to what Mary has just said—let me add that all the provinces and territories, from what I can gather, have what I would describe as a very good relationship with the staff of several federal offices that we count on and deal with on an ongoing basis. The office of His Excellency the Governor General is an office we have dealings with, as well as Canadian Heritage and the Department of Foreign Affairs. We have very good relations with the RCMP and the military, as they're all required because of some of the events and circumstances that we find ourselves in. And as Mary just mentioned, we also have a very good relationship—and I think this is true of all the provinces—with the office of the Canadian secretary to the Queen, Mr. Kevin MacLeod.
On a provincial basis we work directly with the premier; that's who I report to directly. But we also have strong dealings with members of cabinet, the lieutenant-governor, and the speaker of the legislative assembly. Oddly enough, our office—and I think this is true of most of the smaller provinces in Canada—has a very good relationship with opposition MLAs, members of the legislative assembly, as well.
There are many areas in the federal protocol system where all the provinces are really quite grateful for the guidance and advice we receive. There are far more areas of common ground than not. Coming from a smaller province, I can assure you we appreciate and really welcome all the help we can get.
I do know that the current Usher of the Black Rod and the private secretary, who was just mentioned a moment ago, Mr. Kevin MacLeod, started to revise a general protocol manual a few years ago. This was initially done in the 1990s. It was going to be updated by Mr. MacLeod, but then he went on to assume the new duties that he currently has as Usher of the Black Rod. To my knowledge, that manual is still unfinished. I think it's safe to say that all the provinces and territories would appreciate...and in truth—this is especially true of the smaller provinces—we actually need the completion of this manual. As I will reiterate at the end of my presentation, I'd be delighted to play an ongoing support role in this initiative if it's warranted.
I don't think I want to go any further just at the moment without telling you how really pleased I am to be here this morning and to be asked to be part of this process. I'm really flattered that I've been asked to be here today and have a chance to speak to all of you and play a role in today's discussions.
As Mary and Cathy have mentioned.... I thought I might just take a moment and tell you about the roles, responsibilities, and duties that are attached to my office as the chief of protocol, because I think it will reflect what actually goes on in the protocol offices in what are called smaller provinces in the country.
We play key organizational roles with respect to all incoming diplomatic visits—for ambassadors and high commissioners and consuls general—and we maintain a strong relationship, almost in a quasi-supervisory capacity, with our consular corps. It's not as large as Ontario's, of course, but there are 25 consular corps members at the moment.
Other areas, such as royal visits, the opening of the House—that's the Speech from the Throne—half-masting of flags throughout the province, books of condolence when required, and most special events where the premier plays a key role also fall, in some capacity, to my office.
The province also has a military liaison position called the Office of the Military Envoy. This office is actually attached to the protocol office to recognize the vital role the military plays in the province, not just from an economic standpoint but in a variety of other areas, including their community support, and in Manitoba's case, the very strong and major role they played in assisting the province in its flood-fighting efforts last year and, previous to that, in 1997.
This office plays what I would describe as a very strong public relations role in ensuring that all levels and branches of the military in Manitoba, including in some capacity cadets, are recognized, respected, and appreciated. I have a couple of examples.
We are in the process of renaming a section of Manitoba Highway 1 as the Highway of Heroes. A lot of provinces have a highway of heroes. This is related to my office and the military envoy position. We're renaming a large section of Manitoba Highway 1 between the cities of Brandon and Winnipeg.
A month from today, we're going to have a diamond jubilee event, which is military-oriented. We're going to have an evening diamond jubilee service of remembrance at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg. I don't know if you know this but Winnipeg has the largest military cemetery in Canada. As part of this evening diamond jubilee service, we're going to be placing candles on each of the 12,000-plus graves there. It will be quite dramatic. It's kind of a nice thing to tie in with the diamond jubilee. We hope to have members of the federal, provincial, and municipal governments also on hand for that event.
Of course, there are the not too frequent events, such as state funerals, the swearing in of a new government, and the swearing in of a new lieutenant-governor. As Mary mentioned, similarly in Manitoba, we have the hanging or unveiling of official portraits of past premiers and speakers of the legislative assembly. In fact, next week, former Manitoba premier and current ambassador to Washington, Gary Doer, will unveil his portrait at the Manitoba legislative building. We are involved in that.
We play a key role in many international trade missions led by the premier. In the past few years, we have gone to China, India, Australia, England, Belgium, France, Iceland—Iceland is very important to Manitoba—and the United States as well.
As the chief of protocol, I sit on numerous committees, including one for the diamond jubilee celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen. Both Mary and I are very privileged to be on the national committee for the diamond jubilee. On a provincial basis, I co-chair that committee as well. There is a series of other committees. Manitoba is celebrating its 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers, which was the opening of western Canada, really. We have the War of 1812, which is the key focus in Ontario, but just to the west we have the Selkirk Settlers, which is quite a big event for us. I am playing a role in the initial stages of what the federal government is doing on the sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary, of Canada coming up in 2017. Just on the heels of that will be the 150th anniversary of Manitoba and the 100th anniversary of our legislative building in 2020. Thankfully, that will be past my time as chief of protocol.
As mentioned by Mary, the chief of protocol for Ontario, we also administer gift banks for cabinet ministers, the premier, and so on. These are primarily used for outgoing trade missions and diplomatic visits the premier may receive, for example, ambassadors, high commissioners, and so on.
We have two styles of gifts. One is for key officials. We have gifts in the $100 to $150 range. For heads of state, we might go up to $1,000. That's not often, but it's possible. We have done it in the past. We also have a large bank of lesser gifts, what I would call knick-knacks. People might want 50 or 100 gifts for a school group, committee, convention, or something of that nature. They range from pins and pens to stress toys. We give away a lot of those; it's a sign of the times right now.
We're also the go-to office with regard to ongoing questions from the public and other government departments with respect to protocol, largely on orders of precedence, which I'm going to address momentarily. That is one area in which I'd like to see some resolution.
One other thing we do is our office serves as a secretariat to our provincial order, the Order of Manitoba. We have another, less known honour, the Order of the Buffalo Hunt. It is quite a prestigious award given out by the premier. The protocol office plays a key role in that.
One final point is that the office also plays a role with respect to media relations. I am often the designated spokesperson for different things that are going on where the premier is involved. There's the writing of speeches or news releases, and so on, that might be required for any given event.
This is all done with very few staff. There are just four staff, actually, in my office. We're quite a busy office.
Almost from day one, since I've become the chief of protocol in the province, I'm asked this one question: what is protocol?
This is maybe germane to what we're talking about here today. Aside from describing it, as Mary eloquently did, as a set of guidelines and customs and rules and precedents all coming together, really, to ensure that ceremonies and events have what could be described as continuous order or flow or dignity, I often describe protocol in much simpler terms as good manners and common sense, and maybe with a hint of flexibility.
This is actually the point I want to address. There's one area of contention that exists, and since we're talking about protocols and so on, I wanted to bring up a couple of points with you. One is the protocol manual that I mentioned earlier. I would certainly hope that can be looked at further in the months ahead. But one area of contention with regard to the provinces and the federal government in the area of protocol deals with the order of precedence. Maybe it could be better stated that the disagreements centre on how the federal order of precedence relates to or interacts with provincial orders of precedence in each province. I don't think there's a month that goes by where there's not a disagreement between communications staff at a provincial level and a federal level with regard to a federal news release or a federal-provincial event. Some of you are probably quite familiar with this point.
I can't really begin to quantify the amount of angst, distrust, and ill-will created by this, and in more practical terms, the amount of staff time that is actually lost or wasted by all provinces, and indeed federal employees, when it comes to federal-provincial events, announcements, and news releases.
By way of background, I thought I'd take a look at maybe how we got to this point today—