Working with elected officials

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Elected officials or their representatives are welcome to participate in citizenship ceremonies, except in a few rare cases (during election periods, holidays and other instances).

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Elected officials at citizenship ceremonies

An elected official may be invited to bring greetings and congratulatory remarks (see “Remarks” below). When elected officials are special guests at a citizenship ceremony,

  • the clerk of the ceremony will provide them with a full briefing on the ceremony upon their arrival at the ceremony;
  • elected officials may be introduced during the ceremony, and those who have been invited to speak will give a brief address;
  • they should plan on spending 15 or 20 minutes after the ceremony attending the reception (if applicable) and posing for photographs with the new Canadians.

If an elected official requests to host a citizenship ceremony in their riding, the guidelines for hosts and sponsors should be followed.

Elected officials should be made aware of the policy on distributing gifts at citizenship ceremonies.

These instructions also apply to provincial, territorial and municipal elected officials.

Elected representatives sent on behalf of elected officials

The presence of elected officials reinforces Canada’s democratic institutions and represents the embodiment of the electoral process, reminding new citizens of the voting rights they gain in becoming Canadian. Sometimes elected officials send an elected representative on their behalf to a ceremony. To maintain the same order of precedence (procession, potential speaking role, participation in receiving line, etc.) as the elected official they are representing, the representative must be an elected individual who has a similar or comparable status (same position or a position that is one level down). The list below shows examples of representatives who have the same order of precedence as the person they are representing:

  • The Prime Minister can send a federal cabinet minister (it should be noted that in some instances, the Parliamentary Secretary could be asked to represent the Prime Minister when no federal cabinet minister is available).
  • A federal cabinet minister can send another federal cabinet minister or a member of Parliament.
  • A member of Parliament can send another member of Parliament.
  • A mayor can send a member of the city council.

Non-elected individual representing an elected official

Elected officials may at times ask a non-elected individual (i.e., public servant, Minister’s assistant, constituency staff) to represent them at ceremonies. Representatives of elected officials, such as constituency staff, do not provide, in the same way as elected officials themselves, that direct link to Canada’s democratic institutions. The purpose of allowing elected officials to participate in and speak at ceremonies is for new Canadian citizens to witness democracy in action and to allow the new citizens to get to know their elected officials who represent them at the federal, provincial or municipal level.

Non-elected individuals representing elected officials are welcome to attend citizenship ceremonies in the following capacities:

  • They may be seated in the front row along with other special guests and be acknowledged during the ceremony.
  • They may be asked to be part of the platform party and take part in the presentation of certificates in the receiving line. However, they may not take the order of precedence of the elected official they are representing when walking in or sitting on stage; they enter last (if the host spoke at the beginning of the ceremony) or just before the host.
  • They can mingle with the new citizens following the ceremony if they so choose.

Note: Non-elected individuals attending a ceremony on behalf of an elected official are not permitted to speak at a citizenship ceremony.

Elected officials from neighbouring ridings

On occasion, elected officials from neighbouring ridings may wish to attend a special event (e.g., Canada Day ceremony) outside their own ridings. In such cases, invitations may be extended to them. Out of courtesy, the elected official who is responsible for the riding where the ceremony takes place should be advised ahead of time that other elected officials may be present. See “Order of precedence at a citizenship ceremony” for further instructions.

Unannounced elected officials

Due to the pressing schedules of the House of Commons, it may be difficult for elected officials to confirm their attendance at a citizenship ceremony. Therefore, elected officials may appear unannounced. Local office staff should exercise judgement under these circumstances and make any necessary adjustments to the ceremony if possible.

Remarks

Elected officials may congratulate or greet new citizens during the ceremony and may be asked to give a short speech.

If elected officials are asked to speak, citizenship staff should remind them of the following:

  • The citizenship ceremony is not a platform for
    • expressing political viewpoints;
    • asking people to vote for them;
    • raising controversial issues.
  • Remarks on this occasion should focus primarily on
    • welcoming new Canadians;
    • the importance of Canadian citizenship.
  • They are invited to highlight the positive aspects of Canadian citizenship:
    • the rights and responsibilities of being Canadian;
    • the values that unite Canadians;
    • the importance of playing an active role in Canadian society.
  • Remarks should include segments in both official languages:
    • if the ceremony is bilingual, remarks should be delivered in both official languages (English and French);
    • if the ceremony is predominantly in one language, those offered a speaking role will be invited to include bilingual elements when possible, in recognition of Canada’s status as a bilingual country.
  • Remarks should take approximately two minutes; the time allocated for the remarks should be respected as there could be other guest speakers. See the “Remarks” section of “Working with special guests”.

Citizenship staff are responsible for reviewing remarks or speaking notes. See the “Remarks” section of “Working with special guests”.

Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

The presence of the Prime Minister or the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is planned with their respective staff.

Prime Minister

When a host wishes to formally invite the Prime Minister to an enhanced ceremony, they may send their request directly to the Prime Minister’s Office. They should also inform the citizenship staff of their intent to do so. Citizenship staff should then inform the events team at National Headquarters (NHQ) and copy their regional communications representative. When the Prime Minister attends a ceremony, it is recommended that two Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers be available. See the instructions on working with the RCMP and other police forces.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

When a local citizenship office or a host wishes to invite the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to an enhanced ceremony, the local office should submit the request to the events team at NHQ and copy their regional communications representative. Citizenship staff should ensure that enhanced ceremonies are entered in the various ceremony lists so that upcoming ceremony opportunities can be shared.

For more information

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