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Governor General of Canada / Gouverneur général du Canadaa




Report on Performance

The Governor General has various duties that span her area of responsibility. These range from fulfilling constitutional and State responsibilities, to bringing Canadians together, to honouring Canadians and recognizing excellence. The following provides a summary of the Governor General’s activities and results achieved over the past year, consistent with these areas.

Constitutional Responsibilities

The Governor General’s constitutional responsibilities and her fulfillment of these responsibilities in 2003-04 are as follows:

  • Ensure Canada always has a prime minister. Upon the resignation of The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien on December 12, 2003, the Governor General immediately swore in the Right Honourable Paul Martin as Prime Minister of Canada.
  • Swearing-in of Cabinet and Privy councillors. Along with swearing in the Prime Minister, the Governor General also swore in the new members of the 27th Ministry on December 12, 2003. On that same day, and for the first time, the Governor General also swore in 26 Parliamentary secretaries as Privy councillors. Her Excellency also swore in an additional four Privy councillors in three separate ceremonies on other occasions during the course of that year.
  • Summon, Prorogue, Dissolve Parliament and Deliver the Speech from the Throne. On February 2, 2004, the Governor General gave the Speech from the Throne to open the 3rd Session of the 37th Parliament (http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/info/throne/index.asp?lang=E&parl=37&sess=3).
  • Grant Royal Assent to government legislation. In 2003-04, the Governor General granted Royal Assent to 34 pieces of legislation, including:
    • Bill C-4 – a Bill to establish an ethics commissioner and a Senate ethics officer;
    • Bill C-24 – a Bill to reform the financing of federal political parties; and
    • Bill C-25 – a Bill to modernize the human resources management framework in the public service.
  • Grant Assent to Orders in Council. In 2003-04, the Governor General approved 2,102 Orders in Council, including:
    • 115 Orders related to the installation of the 27th Ministry on December 12, 2003 (including the changes to the ranks of deputy ministers);
    • Security-related orders such as Regulations Establishing a List of Terrorist Entities under the Criminal Code, Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act; and
    • Orders concerning the creation of the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency and the Canada School of Public Service, and orders disbanding Communication Canada.

Responsibilities as Head of State

The Governor General’s responsibilities as Head of State and her fulfillment of these responsibilities in 2003-04 are as follows:

  • Welcome and host world leaders. A State visit to Canada takes place at the invitation of the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. Canada usually hosts four or five State visits a year, although this number can fluctuate greatly, due to national elections and other domestic considerations. While a State visit may last for a week or more, the official visit to Ottawa normally lasts approximately two days. The Governor General typically hosts a visiting head of State and his or her accompanying party at Rideau Hall. This includes an official welcoming ceremony with a military Guard of Honour and 21-gun salute, the exchange of official gifts, a tête-à-tête between the heads of State, a State luncheon or dinner, and may include other forms of hospitality depending on the particular circumstances of the visit. During 2003-04, the Governor General hosted His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, and His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, during their State visits to Canada.
  • Receive Letters of Credence or Commission from foreign heads of Mission. Letters of Credence or Commission are the formal documents by which a head of State introduces a new head of Diplomatic Mission to the head of State of the receiving country. There are over 120 foreign heads of Mission accredited to Canada and in 2003-04, the Governor General received the Letters of Credence or Commission of 32 of these individuals.
  • Confirm the Appointment of Canadian heads of Mission to be posted abroad. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General approved the appointment of 41 Canadian heads of Mission in this year. She also hosted a reception in their honour prior to their departure for post.
  • Represent Canada Abroad. Governors General have traveled to represent Canada abroad ever since Lord Elgin went to Washington in 1854. It is customary for State visits to be made at the invitation of the host country. The first official State visit by a Governor General of Canada took place in 1926, when Lord Willingdon traveled, also to Washington, at the invitation of President Calvin Coolidge. State visits by the Governor General to foreign countries are an important instrument of Canadian foreign policy and are carried out at the request of the Prime Minister on the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Since His Excellency the Right Honourable Roland Michener's mandate (1967 – 1974), State visits have been a significant component of the Governor General's program. As of 2004, Governors General of Canada had conducted 46 State visits. The Governor General is not in a constitutional position to address specific policy issues that could be raised by the foreign government. Therefore at least one minister and a number of officials always accompany her. On State visits the Governor General is always accompanied by an all-party delegation of senators and members of Parliament. The Governor General may also be accompanied by senators and members of Parliament, Aboriginal leaders and representatives of various other communities representing expertise in various fields of endeavours such as culture, science, the environment, and education. With the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada and the Canadian embassies in each country, the Governor General represented Canada abroad on the following occasions:
    • At the State funeral for the victims of the March 11, 2004, bombings in Madrid, Spain; and
    • On State visits to Russia, Finland and Iceland, three countries of the circumpolar north, in support of the Northern Dimension of Canada’s Foreign Policy.
    • At a European Union conference in Brussels, Belgium, “Making Migrants Part of Society: The Canadian Experience.”

The Governor General further supported Canada’s international relations by hosting 14 events for individuals or groups formed of members of the foreign Diplomatic Corps in Canada.

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As Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces, the Governor General maintains an active interest in the activities of the Forces by visiting units and bases and by participating in military ceremonies. Invitations are often extended to the Governor General to attend ceremonies marking important milestones in the history of military units and formations in all branches of the services. These events can include presentations of colours, openings of new facilities or commemorative ceremonies on the occasion of special anniversaries. Visits to military units can be combined with regional visits. The Governor General also visits members of the Canadian Forces serving on missions abroad. In her role as Commander-in-Chief in 2003-04, the Governor General took part in the following activities:

  • Inspected the troops at the Speech From the Throne and at the national Remembrance Day Ceremony;
  • Witnessed the Presentation of Colours of Canadian Forces Battalions;
  • Visited Canadian troops in Afghanistan over the New Year;
  • Travelled to Germany to pay tribute to the fallen Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan; and
  • Represented all Canadians by attending memorial services and funerals held for our fallen military, Sergeant Robert Short, Corporal Robbie Beerenfenger and Corporal Jamie Murphy, who gave their lives in the service of their country.

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Bringing Canadians Together

The Governor General has an important traditional role in promoting national identity and national unity. This is accomplished through visits to Canadian communities, through events the Governor General hosts at the official residences, and through the visitors’ program in place at both official residences.

Role of the Spouse

His Excellency John Ralston Saul joins the Governor General for many activities. However, he also undertakes specific initiatives in his own right as has been the tradition since 1848.

  1. Bilingualism. His Excellency is actively engaged in the promotion of bilingual education in high schools and universities through his involvement with French for the Future / Le Français pour l’avenir, of which he is the Founder and Patron (www.french-future.org), by speaking to students and in numerous meetings with school board officials, university leaders, teachers and French second language professionals.
  2. History and the understanding of Canada. Firmly believing that Canadians must understand their past in order to appreciate our values and institutions, His Excellency devotes much of his time to speaking with students in high schools, at conferences, to associations, and at named lectures such as the John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture at Glendon College and the Joseph Howe Lecture at the University of King’s College. His major initiatives in this area this past year included the exhibit “Lord and Lady Elgin in Canada: Culture and Democracy,” and the annual LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture, which invites a renowned individual to reflect upon the Canadian democratic experiment (www.lafontaine-baldwin.com).
  3. Volunteerism. In almost every major speech, His Excellency stresses the importance of giving one’s time and energy to contribute to the common good.
  4. Freedom of Speech. As Honorary Patron of PEN Canada, His Excellency was instrumental in the organization of an international conference on building a Canadian network for Writers in Exile.
  5. Canadians with disabilities. Various events, notably with PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network) and the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, provided His Excellency with opportunities to highlight the contributions that can be made by citizens with various mental and physical disabilities.
  6. Public education. At every opportunity, His Excellency visits public schools to meet with staff and speak with the students. Whenever possible, in guest editorials, public lectures or in media interviews, His Excellency vigorously defends Canada’s public education system as the critical element of our open, inclusive and egalitarian society.
  7. Reviving the traditional vice-regal spouse’s involvement with the military. Starting in the mid-19th century, vice-regal spouses became involved with Canada’s military. This past year, His Excellency continued his work with our Armed Forces by speaking with cadets and staff at the Royal Military College, the Canadian Armed Forces Staff College in Kingston, and addressing the public at the National War Memorial on the occasion of the opening of the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy. During Their Excellencies visit to Canadian Forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, His Excellency accompanied the troops on patrol.
  8. Speaking abroad on behalf of Canada. As Vice-regal spouse, His Excellency is often invited by foreign countries and by Canadian embassies to address foreign audiences. In 2003-2004, His Excellency was invited to speak in Mexico City and Berlin, as well as on several occasions during the Circumpolar State visit.

Visits to Canadian Communities

Visits to Canadian communities are based on various themes consistent with Their Excellencies’ interests, and create opportunities for the Governor General to meet Canadians in communities across the country—often in communities that no previous Governor General had visited before. A full and varied program of events has been developed for these visits, often in response to the more than 1 500 invitations received annually from municipalities, schools, non-profit organizations and individuals.

In 2003-04, their Excellencies visited 38 communities across Canada. During these visits the Governor General participated in a wide range of activities, from large-scale public events such as citizenship ceremonies, to school visits, to visits featuring innovative community projects, to roundtable discussions on social and economic issues critical to the communities being visited.

Recognizing the importance of urban sustainability in Canada, during 2003-04, Their Excellencies’ visits across the country were primarily to large urban communities. The focus of these visits, three of which were accomplished this year, was to engage Canadians, living in urban centres, in roundtable discussions on the theme of “The Good City”—a place where people will want to live, and what makes them want to live there, and how citizens can face urban challenges such as housing, diversity and public education. The following is a summary of Their Excellencies’ three major visits to urban communities during 2003-04:

  • Quebec City, Quebec – Their Excellencies’ September 2003 visit showcased Quebec City’s innovative approach to urban renewal through art. This visit also brought people together to discuss the changing fabric of the city’s society and its plans for future growth.
  • Saint John, New Brunswick – Their December 2003 visit to Saint John served as a catalyst for discussion on this city’s growth and future. A number of the groups that came together for discussions agreed to meet on a regular basis thereafter to talk about larger issues.

    “By collecting impressions from coast to coast, Ms. Clarkson's work has value to Canadians. She doesn't fly in and out in a matter of hours during "official" visits. She spends time in communities and makes small-world connections as she gains an understanding as to why people live where they do and what holds them there. And with these visits, she wants to ensure people feel included in Canada.”
    December 12, 2003, New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – The focus of this January 2004 visit was on the Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal relationship, including highlighting the successful collaboration between various community groups such as Canada’s first urban reserve. Issues pertaining to youth were also an important area of focus, given that half the Aboriginal population in Saskatoon is under the age of 20.

    “However, the most valuable role of the post probably is to reflect Canadians to themselves. The very presence of the Governor General in a community tends to make people see themselves in a different light.

    The Governor General has the unique opportunity to bring people together in forums that wouldn't otherwise occur. This produces a kind of creative tension that can result in some fascinating debates.

    The Governor General's visit is a reminder that the way ahead must be a collective effort. No part of the population can be left behind if Saskatoon is to build the kind of future that will not only retain our current population but attract new residents. ”
    January 29, 2004, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Events by Invitation held at the Official Residences

The Governor General's program includes hosting a wide range of events at the official residences: Rideau Hall in Ottawa and La Citadelle in Quebec City. These events relate not only to the traditional, constitutional, State and ceremonial roles and responsibilities of the Governor General but also to the Canadian Honours program.

In addition to the events listed below, others in this year included receptions and events for a diverse array of organizations and causes such as: the Royal Society of Canada; the Parliamentary Interns and Senate Pages; the annual inspection of the Ceremonial Guard; the Nunavut Youth Abroad Program; the launch of the Poppy Campaign; the launch of the Daffodil Campaign; and a combined event for PEN Canada and PEN Quebec.

These events require extensive planning and organization to ensure that the ceremonial aspects are meaningful. In 2003-04 close to 8,700 people attended the 87 such events held at Rideau Hall and over 1,200 people attended the 13 events held at La Citadelle.

Whether it is lunch for a group of high school teachers, visiting Inuit students, an outdoor skating party, a summer picnic or a formal State dinner, the hospitality offered at the official residences of the Governor General reflects the excellent quality of Canadian products from coast to coast to coast. Offering hospitality is a traditional way of receiving guests and an important part of the role of the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces. Culinary creations at the official residences are based on distinctively Canadian ingredients that are fresh, seasonal and organic. Only wines from Canada’s two primary wine-producing regions—the Niagara Region in Ontario, and the Okanagan Region in British Columbia—are served at official events. The OSGG is committed to showcasing the excellence of Canadian food and wine at Rideau Hall, at La Citadelle, at events across the country and abroad.

The following is a summary of these events together with highlights for 2003-04:

  • Swearing-in ceremonies and receptions, including those held for the Prime Minister, members of Cabinet and Privy councillors. On December 12, 2003, close to 500 people attended the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Paul Martin, as well as the 34 members of the 27th Ministry, and the ceremony where Parliamentary secretaries were sworn in as Privy councillors for the first time. Close to 400 people attended the reception the Governor General held on February 2, 2004, in conjunction with the Opening of the 3rd Session of the 37th Parliament.
  • Receptions for incoming and outgoing heads of Mission. These receptions are a part of international diplomacy and enable heads of Mission to individually present their Letters of Credence or Commission to the Governor General or enable her to personally meet with outgoing Canadian heads of Mission. During 2003-04, 10 receptions were held for 32 incoming heads of Mission, attended by approximately 300 people.
  • State dinners for visiting heads of State. Hosting State dinners is a normal and expected part of international diplomacy. The dinners serve as an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations, to promote Canada’s foreign policy objectives and to showcase the best of Canada. In November 2003, the Governor General hosted a State dinner for His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, an event that was attended by over 100 people. The Governor General also hosted a State dinner, attended by over 300 people, in honour of His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, during his March 2004 State visit to Canada.
  • Courtesy Calls. In addition to welcoming world leaders on State visits to Canada, the Governor General also receives leaders, former leaders and other elected and non-elected foreign officials for courtesy calls. In 2003-04, the Governor General welcomed eight such visiting dignitaries and delegations, including; The Honourable Neil Andrew, Speaker of the House of Commons of Australia; His Excellency, Nursultan A. Nazarbyev, President of Kazakhstan; His Excellency, Sergio Bitar, Minister of Education in Chile; His Excellency, Wen Jiaboa, Premier of the Peoples’ Republic of China; and The Right Honourable Valerij Zorkin, Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.
  • Receptions related the Governor General’s role as Commander-in-Chief of Canada's Armed Forces. In her role as Commander-in-Chief, the Governor General hosts various events and receptions for Canadian Forces personnel, for veterans and for their families. In 2003-04, the Governor General hosted a reception for over 350 members of the Canadian Forces and related personnel in conjunction with the Annual Inspection of the Ceremonial Guard. She hosted over 100 military personnel and their families at two Order of Military Merit investitures as well as 20 members of the Canadian Forces and their families at the presentation of the Meritorious Service Decorations. In each of these cases, the ceremony was followed by a reception and luncheon. On Remembrance Day, she hosted a reception in honour of the Silver Cross Mother attended by over 60 veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion and participants of the National Remembrance Day youth poster and poetry contest. In February 2004, the Governor General met with all members of the Armed Forces Council for their annual meeting; she then presented scrolls of commission to 12 new General Flag officers and offered a reception for them and their spouses.
  • Honours investiture ceremonies and related receptions, including those for the Order of Canada, Decorations for Bravery, Meritorious Service Decorations, Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, Order of Military Merit and Order of Merit of the Police Forces. In 2003-04, the Governor General hosted nine Honours investiture ceremonies and related receptions, attended by over 2 300 award recipients and their guests from all across Canada. The Governor General receives a considerable volume of spontaneous feedback from honours recipients, all expressing tremendous gratitude and pride, not only in being recognized for their remarkable achievements, but in the dignified manner in which these ceremonies and receptions are carried out. For example, one Order of Canada recipient honoured at the May 9, 2003 ceremony expressed the following:

    “I felt, as did my wife and children, that this was a uniquely ‘Canadian’ experience, both in terms of the marvellous variety represented by the company of the recipients, and in the manner in which the event was conceived and carried out. By ‘Canadian’ in that context, I mean the wonderful combination of ceremonial dignity and essential modesty—a rare experience in an age of promotionalism and performance.”

  • Ceremonies and receptions related to awards associated with the Governor General - for example, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, the Michener Awards, etc. These awards enable the Governor General, on behalf of Canada, to recognize and honour Canadian excellence, and to increase awareness of Canada’s rich talent and traditions in these fields. In 2003-04, the Governor General hosted nine awards ceremonies of this nature, attended by over 1 100 award recipients and their guests.

Public Events held at the Official Residences

Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, and the Governor General’s official residence at La Citadelle, in Quebec City, are in many ways the Nation’s Homes. Both residences have a long tradition as gathering places, and over the years have become increasingly open and accessible to Canadians. In this spirit, a variety of public events are held annually at the official residences to welcome Canadians and to provide occasions to celebrate and reinforce Canadian values. As the Governor General plays an active role in hosting these events, they also provide an opportunity for informal exchanges between the Governor General and the Canadians who come to take part.

The following is a summary of the key public events held at the official residences together with highlights of the events held in 2003-04:

  • Governor General’s Levee – The Governor General's Levee has been held in Canada since the 1600s, and has been a viceregal tradition at Rideau Hall or at La Citadelle since 1869. One thousand people attended the 2003 Levee, which was held in mid-December, rather than at New Year’s so that Their Excellencies could visit Canadian Armed Forces personnel in Afghanistan over the holiday period. Those attending the Levee had the opportunity to prepare written or video-recorded messages, which the Governor General and John Ralston Saul took with them to the troops.
  • Outdoor Summer Celebration – Outdoor summer celebrations have been held at Rideau Hall since the time of Lord Lisgar (1868 1872). In 2003, Rideau Hall changed the traditional garden party format in a variety of ways to make it more informal and more in keeping with traditional summer celebrations, including combining it with a citizenship ceremony presided over by the Governor General and the launch of the Summer Concert Series, featuring high-profile Canadian performers Chantal Kreviazuk and Jeff Healey. Renamed as “The Governor General's Party in the Garden”, visitors to this public event have an opportunity to meet Their Excellencies, tour the residence and the gardens, and enjoy an afternoon of light refreshments, old-fashioned games, music and activities for all ages. Approximately 11 000 people attended this event held on June 28, 2003.
  • Governor General’s Summer Concert Series – In addition to the Party in the Garden Concert, a further series of free outdoor concerts is offered on the grounds of Rideau Hall throughout the summer as another way of welcoming Canadians to their national home. This year saw close to 6 000 music lovers attending three very different concerts, appealing to a broad spectrum of tastes and interests, but each, in its own way, highlighting and showcasing Canadian talent and excellence: the Band of the Ceremonial Guard featured rousing military music; Sonic Weave explored Canadian folk and world music; and the National Arts Centre Orchestra presented a family concert of “summer-weight” classical music.
  • Winter Celebration – In 2002, as part of the celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of Canadian governors general, Rideau Hall hosted the first Winter Celebration. This event is an opportunity to celebrate Canadian winter traditions at Canada’s national house. Activities typically include skating, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, traditional Inuit games, children’s outdoor games,all made possible through the participation of many citizens groups and volunteers such as Pathfinders and the Nunavut Sivuniksavut training program. In addition to enjoying outdoor winter activities, all guests are invited to tour Rideau Hall. The event is another way of increasing awareness of the Office and reinforces the OSGG’s ongoing commitment to making the residence and grounds more accessible to Canadians. Approximately 4 000 people attended the Winter Celebration held in February 2004.
  • Open House at La Citadelle – For the past 15 years open houses have been held at the Governor General’s official residence at La Citadelle in Quebec City. The event provides an opportunity to meet the Governor General, tour this National Historical site, and enjoy an afternoon of music and activities for families and visitors of all ages. In 2003-04 approximately 2,000 people attended the event.

Visitors’ Program

The OSGG has offered visitor programs at Rideau Hall for several years, and in 2003 pursued a pilot project of regular guided visits, for the first time ever, at La Citadelle, in Quebec City, with the goal of establishing an annual visitor program. The objective of the visitor program is to promote awareness and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the Governor General and the history of Canada’s democracy.

Recognizing that the residences belong to all Canadians, visitors, whether individuals, school groups, or others, are invited to discover Rideau Hall and La Citadelle through a variety of guided and self-guided tours, special exhibitions and other interpretive offerings, that are provided at no charge on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

The overall interpretation program focuses on themes linked to Canadian identity, history, culture and values. The tour of Rideau Hall is a window, both on Canadian history and the Office of Governor General, and is by far the most popular element of the visitor program among all audiences. Since 1999, groups and individuals have also been able to enjoy specialized art or horticultural tours. For families visiting the site during the summer, a diversified program of thematic activities is offered to complement the experience at the Visitor Centre.

Visitors to Rideau Hall and La Citadelle number about 200 000 annually. Rideau Hall is consistently among the top 10 visitor attractions in the National Capital Region and, in 2003, was third with visiting tour groups. In fact, teachers consider the visit to Rideau Hall to be one of the must-see sites, especially as it relates to their class curriculum. An educational kit is available for teachers to help prepare their students before their visit.

Feedback from visitors to Rideau Hall, including unsolicited correspondence from visitors, indicates that these visits are very informative and highly enjoyable. Visitor research studies also indicate that 82 per cent of visitors leave with an increased understanding of our country.

Visits to Rideau Hall by Program Category in 2003-04

Guided Tours
Interpretation Program
Special Events
Visitor Centre



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Honouring Canadians and Recognizing Excellence

Each year the Governor General presents honours and awards on behalf of all Canadians to recognize those who have demonstrated excellence, courage or exceptional dedication to service in ways that bring special credit to our country.

In order to select the individuals to be honoured by the Governor General, the OSGG administers the National Honours System, through the Chancellery of Canadian Honours, by undertaking comprehensive research and analysis of the nominations received; providing secretariat support to the various advisory councils; supporting communications with both the public and recipients; arranging for the design, approval and production of the various honours insignia, medals and pins; and maintaining the registry of all award recipients.

In 1980, the Prime Minister instituted the Honours Policy Committee to assist in establishing the policy governing the Canadian Honours System. The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Prime Minister on the exercise of his prerogatives with respect to honours and awards in Canada and to assist him in this ministerial responsibility. All members of Honours Policy Committee are public servants. The Committee consists of the deputy heads of Canadian Heritage, Foreign Affairs, National Defence, Veterans Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration, Treasury Board Secretariat and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, along with the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. It is chaired by the Privy Council Office.

The presentation of insignia for the Order of Canada, Order of Military Merit, Order of Merit for Police, Bravery Awards and Meritorious Service Decorations take place during an investiture ceremony, where the recipient receives the insignia from the Governor General. A dinner and/or reception for recipients and guests follows the ceremony. A similar event takes place at Rideau Hall and/or La Citadelle in Quebec City for the presentation of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, established by former Governor General the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc.

During 2003-04, close to 3 000 people, including recipients and guests, attended one of these ceremonies at Rideau Hall. In addition, more than 8 500 individuals were honoured through one of the Governor General’s honours programs, administered by the Chancellery of Canadian Honours, such as the exemplary service medals. In addition to these awards, over 3 000 students were recognized with the Governor General’s academic medals, awarded to exceptional students at the high school, college and university levels.

Order of Canada

The Order of Canada is the country’s highest honour for lifetime achievement by its citizens. It was established in 1967 and since then, more than 4 000 Canadians have been invested for their contributions towards making Canada a better country. There are three levels of membership to honour those whose accomplishments vary in degree and scope: Member, Officer and Companion. A complete listing of all persons appointed to the Order since 1967 can be accessed online at http://www.gg.ca/honours/search-recherche/index_e.asp?TypeID=orc.

The Governor General, as Chancellor of the Order, makes appointments to the Order of Canada based on the recommendations of a non-partisan advisory council who reviews the nominations received. The advisory council, which is chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada, includes the Clerk of the Privy Council, the deputy minister of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, the president of the Royal Society of Canada, the chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and five members of the Order, for regional representation. Order of Canada investiture ceremonies are held four times per year.

The chart in Figure 3 provides a summary of the Order of Canada appointments granted in 2003-04.

Figure 3 – Order of Canada Awards

Year # Nominations
Total Awarded % Awarded
Award Levels
Companion Officer Member
2003-04 838 213 25% 14 64 135

Decorations for Bravery

Bravery decorations recognize people who have risked their lives to save or protect others. Three levels — the Cross of Valour, the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery — reflect the varying degrees of risk involved in any act of bravery.

The Decorations for Bravery were created in 1972. In the 32 years since then, more than
2 500 people have received Decorations for Bravery. The Governor General personally presents the decorations in ceremonies held at Rideau Hall or La Citadelle.

In those instances where the Advisory Committee does not feel that a Medal of Bravery is warranted but does feel that the act of bravery should be recognized, a Certificate of Commendation for Bravery is awarded. Figure 5 provides a summary of the Decorations for Bravery, including Certificates of Commendation over the past two fiscal years. Medal of Bravery investiture ceremonies are held twice per year.

Figure 5 - Decorations for Bravery

Year # Nominations Considered Total Awarded % Awarded
Award Levels
Star of Courage Medals of Bravery Certificate of Commendation
2003-04 277 218 78% 1 47 170

Meritorious Service Decorations

While the Order of Canada recognizes Canadian citizens for lifetime contribution, the Meritorious Service Decorations celebrate both Canadians and non-Canadians, and honour a single achievement or activity over a specific period. Meritorious Service Decorations are separated into military and civilian divisions, with two levels in each category: a cross and a medal. The military division recognizes individuals for outstanding professionalism and for bringing honour to the Canadian Forces. The civilian division recognizes contributions to any field, from athletics to diplomatic relations to humanitarian activities.

Separate advisory committees review military and civilian nominations and submit recommendations for potential candidates to the Governor General for approval. The chart in Figure 4 provides a summary of the Meritorious Service Decorations awarded in this fiscal year.

Figure 4 –Meritorious Service Decorations

Year # Nominations
Total Awarded % Awarded
Military Civilian
2003-04 114 38 33% 8 30

Governor General's Caring Canadian Award

The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes selfless voluntarism.

In April 1996, Canada’s then Governor General, the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, created the Caring Canadian Award to recognize these special volunteers—the unsung heroes of our country. This award honours Canadians for unpaid, voluntary contributions, most often behind-the-scenes at the community level. They have given extraordinary help or care to individuals, families or groups, or supported community service or humanitarian causes. Recipients usually have been involved in these activities for several years and have not previously received a national or provincial honour.

The Governor General's Caring Canadian Award consists of a certificate and a lapel pin, which are presented to recipients by the Governor General during her travels or by a designate, such as a lieutenant governor or a territorial commissioner.

An advisory committee reviews nominations and the accompanying research and then submits recommendations for potential candidates to the Governor General for approval. Of the 183 nominations received for this award in 2003-04, 122 (or 67 per cent) Caring Canadian Awards were granted

Governor General’s Academic Medal

For over 125 years, the Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average in his or her institution. Lord Dufferin, Canada's third Governor General after Confederation, created the Academic Medal in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years, it has become the most prestigious award for students in Canadian high schools, colleges and universities.

Today, the Governor General's Academic Medals are awarded at four distinct levels: Bronze at the secondary school level; Collegiate Bronze at the post-secondary, diploma level; Silver at the undergraduate level, and Gold at the graduate level.

Medals are presented on behalf of the Governor General by participating educational institutions, along with a personalized certificate signed by the Governor General. There is no monetary award associated with the medal. The chart in Figure 6 provides a summary of the distribution of the Governor General’s Academic Medals across Canada in 2003-04.

Figure 6 – 2003-04 Distribution of the Governor General’s Academic Medal

Province Gold Silver
Bronze Total
Alberta 6 9 14 327 354
British Columbia 9 14 20 297 340
Manitoba 3 4 3 197 207
New Brunswick 3 4 10 73 90
Newfoundland 1 1 17 133 152
Northwest Territories 0 0 1 14 15
Nova Scotia 7 10 17 91 125
Nunavut 0 0 0 22 22
Ontario 26 31 26 862 945
Prince Edward Island 1 1 2 13 17
Québec 23 19 91 491 624
Saskatchewan 2 2 6 301 311
Yukon 0 0 0 11 11
Total 2003-04 81 95 207 2 832 3 215

Other Honours Programs

In addition to the five honours programs outlined above, the Governor General also honours Canadians each year through the following additional honours programs:

  • Order of Military Merit – This order, established in 1972, recognizes a career of exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of both Regular and Reserve Forces. In 2003-04, 89 members of Canada’s military were honoured with this award;
  • Order of Merit of the Police Forces - This order, established in 2000, honours a career of exceptional service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of Canadian Police Forces. In 2003-04, 38 members of Canada’s police forces were honoured with this award.

The Awards program also consists of other medals. The chart in Figure 7 outlines the other medal program awards in 2003-04:

Figure 7 – Other Awards

Award # Individuals Bestowed
this Award
Exemplary Service Medals: Police; Corrections; Fire Services; Canadian Coast Guard; Emergency Medical Services
Canadian Volunteer Medal for Korea 65
Mentions-in-Dispatch 5
Certificate of Commendation for
Outstanding Service (firefighters in British Columbia)
Foreign Awards to Canadians 173
Governor General’s Marksmanship Medal 23
Commander-in-Chief Unit commendations
Vice Regal Commendations

Awards Associated with the Office of the Governor General

Over the years, a number of awards in the name of the Governor General have been established.

These include, for example, the Governor General's Literary Awards, the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, the Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History, the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, and others.

These awards enable the Governor General, on behalf of Canada, to recognize and honour Canadian excellence and to increase awareness of Canada’s rich talent and traditions in these fields. In 2003-04, the Governor General hosted nine awards ceremonies of this nature, attended by over 1 100 award recipients and their guests.

While presented by the Governor General, most often in a ceremony at Rideau Hall, the administration and oversight of these awards are the responsibility of third parties, such as independent foundations established expressly for that purpose, by private organizations, or by other government organizations with a relevant mandate, such as the Canada Council for the Arts or Status of Women Canada.


Heraldry is a celebration in symbols of the sense people have of themselves, personally and in groups. It is a form of pictorial honour in which every symbol has meaning and, in Canada today, coats of arms, flags, badges and other heraldic devices are expressions of authority, ownership and identity—powerful symbols of our rich history, geography, character and aspirations.

The rapid evolution and expansion of Canadian heraldry dates from June 4, 1988, when the Governor General became Head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, exercising the prerogative powers of The Queen to create these kinds of symbols.

Heraldry provides a vehicle to express the diversity of the Canadian experience. Many new heraldic symbols have been created, drawing on the rich traditions of the First Nations peoples, on events in Canadian history, on Canadian flora and fauna and on our unique landscapes and geography. A new, national vocabulary of symbols is arising in which Canadians find their own traditions and beliefs reflected in distinctive combinations of colours and elements. The coat of arms and flag of Nunavut, our newest territory, are vivid examples of what Canadian heraldry is accomplishing.

The Governor General's heraldic responsibilities are administered by Canadian officers of arms appointed by commission under the Governor General's privy seal: the Herald Chancellor (the Secretary to the Governor General), the Deputy Herald Chancellor (the Deputy Secretary, Chancellery) and the Chief Herald of Canada assisted by others, including the Saint Laurent Herald, Registrar and Keeper of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, and the Fraser Herald, Principal Artist.

The authority's major activities include: granting of new arms; registration of new grants and of existing arms, flags and badges; registration of Native symbols; creation and registration of military badges, flags and other insignia of the Canadian Forces; registration of genealogical information related to inheritance of arms; provision of information on correct heraldic practice; provision of information on heraldic artists who produce graphic or architectural projects and manufactured products; development of, and involvement in, national and regional heraldic ceremonies.

In 2003-04, in fulfillment of the Governor General’s constitutional responsibilities for heraldic honours, 80 civilian grants and registrations were made consisting of 188 separate elements, plus six military badges for units of the Canadian Forces. Examples of these grants included those to the Nova Scotia International Tattoo Society, Saint Philémon, Quebec; Knox College in Toronto; the City of Hamilton; the City of Fernie, British Columbia; the Canadian Defence Academy; the Asper Foundation of Winnipeg; and the Town of Lacombe, Alberta. There were 16 formal presentations of the new grants, most of them large public ceremonies, including two presented personally by the Governor General.

Anniversaries and Special Messages

By long tradition, the OSGG prepares and sends congratulatory messages from the Governor General to Canadians on the occasion of 50th wedding anniversaries and 90th birthdays, and from Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of 60th wedding anniversaries and 100th birthdays .

In 2003-04, the OSGG provided Canadians with 24 539 anniversary messages on behalf of the Governor General and another 4,054 on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

Many Canadian individuals and organizations, including registered charities, municipalities, religious and social organizations, and others, also request special messages from the Governor General to recognize milestones, to greet members at a conference or for fundraising events. In this year, the OSGG received and processed 957 such requests, resulting in 843 customized messages being prepared and sent by the Governor General.

Furthermore, the Governor General receives significant volumes of correspondence from Canadians on a vast range of issues. Many simply wish to offer her their good wishes, encouragement or advice. Others wish to send a photograph or other memento to the Governor General, or perhaps a heartfelt gift of a book, photograph, or news clipping they feel she may enjoy seeing. Still others may exercise their democratic right to express their disagreement with the Governor General over a view she has expressed, or course of action she has undertaken. Others who write seeking her personal intervention as a last resort in a difficult financial, legal or other situation of distress are referred to federal and provincial departments most likely to assist them, as the Governor General cannot intervene in matters that are the responsibility of elected officials.

In 2003-04, the OSGG researched and prepared 1 315 replies to such letters on the Governor General’s behalf.

More and more Canadians prefer to communicate electronically, and the OSGG’s service orientation is very responsive to Canadians preference in this regard, having processed
7 476 electronic information enquiries and comments in 2003-04.

In total, the OSGG processed over 39 000 pieces of correspondence on behalf of the Governor General in this year.

Updated: 2018-03-26
Important Notices
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