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Governor General of Canada / Gouverneur général du Canadaa



Report on Performance

The governor general has various duties that span his or 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 2004-05 are as follows:

  • Summon, prorogue, and dissolve Parliament and deliver the Speech from the Throne. On May 23, 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin formally requested the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of a federal election. This request was granted by the Governor General and an election was held on June 28, 2004.
  • Ensure that Canada always has a prime minister.
  • Swearing-in of Cabinet members and privy councillors. Along with swearing in the Prime Minister, the Governor General also swore in the members of the 28th Ministry on July 20, 2004. On the same day she swore in parliamentary secretaries as privy councillors. Her Excellency also swore in additional privy councillors in five separate ceremonies during the course of that year.

    On October 5, 2004, the Governor General delivered the Speech from the Throne to open the 1st Session of the 38th Parliament: (www.parl.gc.ca/38/1/parlbus/chambus/senate/jour-e/002jr_2004-10-05-E.htm?Language=E&Parl=38&Ses=1)

  • Grant Royal Assent to government legislation. In 2004-05, the Governor General granted Royal Assent to 33 pieces of legislation, including:
    • An Act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences (Bill C-15)
    • An Act to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education savings (Bill C-5)
    • An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (fiscal equalization payments to the provinces and funding to the territories) (Bill C-24)
    • An Act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (Bill C-20)
    • An Act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and to amend or repeal certain Acts (Bill C-6)
  • Issue Orders-in-Council. In 2004-05, the Governor General approved 1,694 Orders-in-Council. These included:
    • 13 Orders related to the installation of the 28th Ministry in July 2004.

Responsibilities as Head of State

The Governor General's responsibilities as Head of State and her fulfillment of these responsibilities in 2004-05 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 and request 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. In 2004-05, the Governor General hosted His Excellency Natsagiin Bagabandi, President of Mongolia, during his State visit to Canada. The Governor General also welcomed His Excellency George W. Bush, President of the United States, during his official visit to Canada, and His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, during his visit to the Northwest Territories to participate in the Northern Research Forum.
  • 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 a diplomatic mission to the head of State of the receiving country. There are over 120 foreign heads of mission accredited to Canada and in 2004-05, the Governor General received the letters of credence or commission of 43 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 44 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 travelled 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 travelled, 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 Foreign Affairs Canada. Since His Excellency the Right Honourable Roland Michener's mandate (1967-74), State visits have been a significant component of the governor general's program. As of 2004, Canada's governors general 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 him or her. On State visits, the governor general is also accompanied by an all-party delegation of senators and members of Parliament. The governor general may also be accompanied by Aboriginal leaders and representatives of various other communities with expertise in such fields of endeavour as culture, science, the environment, and education. With the assistance of Foreign Affairs Canada and the Canadian embassies in each country, the Governor General represented Canada abroad on the following occasions:
    • At events surrounding the 60th Anniversary Commemoration of D-Day in France;
    • At the State funeral for Ronald Reagan, former president of the United States, in Washington;
    • At events surrounding the 60th Anniversary of the Italian Campaign in Italy;
    • At the Nairobi Summit for a Mine-Free World in Kenya;
    • At the swearing-in of Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine;
    • At the official ceremony commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.

The Governor General further supported Canada's international relations by meeting with the presidents of Italy, Kenya, Afghanistan, Poland, and Ukraine and with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates. She also hosted over 12 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. The governor general is often invited to attend ceremonies marking important milestones in the history of military units and formations in all branches of the service. These events can include the presentation of colours, the opening 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 2004-05, 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;
  • Participated in the Change of Command ceremony of the new Chief of the Defence Staff;
  • Visited Canadian troops in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates over the New Year;
  • Represented all Canadians by attending a funeral service for Lt(N) Christopher Saunders, following the fatal fire aboard the HMCS Chicoutimi; and
  • Presided over the inaugural presentation of the General Campaign Star and General Service Medal. These new decorations are awarded to military personnel deployed in operations in the presence of an armed enemy.

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Bringing Canadians Together

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

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 was 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 2004-05, Their Excellencies visited over 24 communities in 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, in 2004-05 Their Excellencies completed their series of urban visits begun in 2003 (Calgary, Quebec City, Saint John, Saskatoon) with visits to Toronto and Vancouver. The focus of these visits was to engage Canadians living in urban centres in round-table discussions on the theme of “The Good City”—a place where people want to live, 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' visits to urban communities in 2004-05:

  • Toronto, Ontario - Their Excellencies' April 2004 visit focused on youth and community building. Their Excellencies spent time with young people learning about innovative projects that encourage youth to become more involved in and to give back to their communities.
  • Vancouver, British Columbia - In September 2004, Their Excellencies' final urban visit focused on citizenship and civic engagement. Specifically, time was spent exploring these themes in the context of youth, the arts and the social economy of the city's Downtown Eastside. The series of visits culminated with the Governor General's Roundtable Discussion on The Good City at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

In May 2004, as part of her participation in the Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference, the Governor General opened the conference in Winnipeg and participated in individual study groups in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. She also received the study group reports and closed the conference in Ottawa.

In the fall of 2004, Their Excellencies attended the Northern Research Forum in Yellowknife and visited Canadians in Fort Providence and Rae Edzo, NWT. As well, they visited the Nisga'a Nation in northern British Columbia's majestic Nass Valley.

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 this year included receptions and events for a diverse array of organizations such as the Royal Society of Canada, the Parliamentary Interns and Senate Pages, the Supreme Court Law Clerks, the Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy, the Nunavut Youth Abroad Program, the Ceremonial Guard, and the Canadian Peony Society. The Governor General also opened the Adrienne Clarkson Elementary School in Ottawa and launched the annual poppy and daffodil campaigns.

These events require extensive planning and organization to ensure that the ceremonial aspects are meaningful. In 2004-05, close to 24 000 people attended 88 such events held at Rideau Hall, and over 700 people attended three events held at La Citadelle.

Whether it is lunch for a group of new citizens, a reception for ceremonial guards, an outdoor winter party, a summer picnic, or a formal State luncheon, 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 Canada. 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 Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) is committed to showcasing the excellence of Canadian food and wine at Rideau Hall, at La Citadelle, and at events across the country and abroad.

The following is a summary of those events, together with highlights for 2004-05:

  • Swearing-in ceremonies and receptions, including those held for members of Cabinet and privy councillors. On July 20, 2004, close to 500 people attended the swearing-in ceremony of the members of the 28th Ministry and the ceremony where parliamentary secretaries were sworn in as privy councillors. In smaller ceremonies throughout the year, the Governor General swore in several prominent Canadians as privy councillors, including the Honourable Stephen Harper, the Honourable Jacques Olivier and the Honourable Jack Layton.
  • Receptions for incoming and outgoing heads of mission. These receptions are a part of international diplomacy and enable heads of mission to present their letters of credence or commission to the governor general individually or enable him or her to meet with outgoing Canadian heads of mission personally. In 2004-05, 15 receptions were held for 43 incoming heads of mission, attended by approximately 450 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 October 2004, the Governor General hosted a State dinner for His Excellency Natsagiin Bagabandi, President of Mongolia, an event that was attended by over 120 people.
  • 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 2004-05, the Governor General welcomed nine such visiting dignitaries and delegations, including the Honourable Pär Stenbäck, former minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, His Highness the Aga Khan, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Royal Highness Prince Joachim of Denmark, the Honourable William H. Renquist and the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the Honourable Hannelore Kraft, Minister of Science and Research of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Ms. Arja Alho, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee and Chair of the Finland-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group. As well, the Governor General opened the 50th Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Quebec City, in September 2004, and hosted a luncheon for the Conference's 650 national and international delegates at her official residence at La Citadelle.
  • Receptions related to the governor general's role as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces. In his or her role as commander-in-chief, the governor general hosts various events and receptions for Canadian Forces personnel, veterans and their families. In 2004-05, 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 120 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. The Governor General also hosted a reception for the 45 inaugural recipients of the General Campaign Star and the General Service Medal and their families. On Remembrance Day, she hosted a reception in honour of the Silver Cross Mother attended by over 80 veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion, participants of the national Remembrance Day youth poster and poetry contest, and students who participated in the Canadian Battlefields Foundation Study Tour. In January 2005, the Governor General met with all members of the Armed Forces Council for their annual meeting; she then presented scrolls of commission to 11 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, Order of Military Merit, and Order of Merit of the Police Forces. In 2004-05, the Governor General hosted 10 honours investiture ceremonies and related receptions, attended by 410 award recipients and their 1 300 guests from all across Canada. The Governor General also presided over three Caring Canadian Award presentations, which were attended by over 700 guests.

    The governor general receives a considerable volume of spontaneous feedback from honours recipients, all expressing tremendous gratitude and pride, not only for being recognized for their remarkable achievements, but also for the dignified manner in which these ceremonies and receptions are carried out. For example, one Order of Canada recipient honoured during a ceremony in 2004-05 said the following:

    "In an important way, I believe that the Order symbolizes the opportunities, the democratic nature, and the civility of Canadian society. I don't say this because of any personal recognition. Rather, I have reflected on the rich composition of our citizens, representative in a small way by the Order, who have contributed to making this nation so decent and compassionate. We're extremely fortunate to have the Office of the Governor General so ably represented by Their Excellencies, whose hard work and commitment to this constitutionally important institution has enhanced the unity of our nation."
  • 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 Commemoration of the Persons Case, the Governor General's Medals in Architecture, the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts, the Michener Awards, and the Vanier Medal. 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 2004-05, the Governor General hosted 11 awards ceremonies of this nature, attended by over 1 350 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 2004-05:

  • 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 and La Citadelle since 1869. Over 1 000 people attended the 2004 Levee, which was held in mid-December rather than on New Year's Day so that Their Excellencies could visit Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates 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 (1868-72). In 2004, Rideau Hall continued to make changes to the traditional garden party format in a variety of ways to make it more informal and more in keeping with traditional summer celebrations. The event included activities and displays linked to the great Canadian outdoors and served as the launch of the Summer Concert Series, featuring high-profile Canadian performers Shaye and Spirit of the West. Renamed "The Governor General's Party in the Garden," this public event gives visitors 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 9 000 people attended this event, held on June 30, 2004.
  • Governor General's Summer Concert Series. In addition to the concert held during the Party in the Garden, other free outdoor concerts are offered on the grounds of Rideau Hall throughout the summer. This series of concerts is another way of welcoming Canadians to their national home. This year saw over 21 000 music lovers attending six 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 Canada Remembers Concert, presented in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada, featured The Canadian Tribute to Glenn Miller and The Nepean All-City Jazz Band in a concert commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day; the Band of the Ceremonial Guard featured rousing military music; internationally renowned Les Violons du Roy orchestra from Quebec City offered a musical program with works by Rodrigo, Villa-Lobos, Piazzolla and Bragato; Le Kiosque à musique-an ensemble that consists of violin, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, double bass, percussion and a narrator-paid homage to Canadian musicians of the early 20th century; and the Nesrallah-Bolshoy Duo united two award-winning performers, mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah and guitarist Daniel Bolshoy.
  • 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, and 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 2005.

Visitors' Program

The OSGG has offered a visitors' program at Rideau Hall for several years and, in 2003 launched a pilot project of regular guided visits at La Citadelle, in Quebec City, with the goal of establishing these visits as part of an annual program. In 2004, a summer program was established to promote awareness and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the governor general and the history of Canada's democracy. (The public's response and the interest of the tourism industry continue to grow).

Because 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 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 the Governor General, and is by far the most popular element of the visitor program with all audiences. Since 1999, groups and individuals have also been able to enjoy specialized art or horticultural tours. Families visiting the site during the summer can enjoy a diversified program of thematic activities 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 2004, was among the top five for visiting school tour groups. In fact, teachers consider 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 for their visit.

Feedback from visitors to Rideau Hall, including unsolicited correspondence, 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.

Figure 3 - Visits to Rideau Hall by Program Category in 2004-05

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.

The OSGG's Chancellery of Canadian Honours administers all aspects of the National Honours System. It undertakes comprehensive research and analysis of the nominations received; provides secretariat support to the various advisory councils; supports communications with both the public and recipients; arranges for the design, approval and production of the various honours insignia, medals and pins; and maintains 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 the Honours Policy Committee are public servants. The Committee consists of the deputy heads of Canadian Heritage, Foreign Affairs Canada, National Defence, Veterans Affairs Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Treasury Board Secretariat, and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, along with the OSGG. It is chaired by the Privy Council Office.

The presentation of insignia for the Order of Canada, Order of Military Merit, Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Decorations for Bravery and Meritorious Service Decorations takes place during an investiture ceremony, where the recipient receives the insignia from the governor general. A dinner and/or reception for recipients and guests follow 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 2004-05, 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 3 200 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 5 000 Canadians have been appointed for their contributions toward 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/Search/honours_e.asp?Search=2.

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 which 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 4 provides a summary of the Order of Canada appointments granted in 2004-05:

Figure 4 - Order of Canada Awards

Year # Nominations
Total Awarded % Awarded
Award Levels
Companion Officer Member
2004-05 905 153 17% 4 39 110

Decorations for Bravery

Decorations for bravery 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 last fiscal year. Medal of Bravery investiture ceremonies are held twice a year.

Figure 5 - Decorations for Bravery

Year # Nominations Considered Total Awarded % Awarded
Award Levels
Star of Courage Medals of Bravery Certificate of Commendation
2004-05 292 244 84% 2 69 173

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 6 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
2004-05 250 82 33% 14 68

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. The recipients have given extraordinary help or care to individuals, families or groups, or have supported community service or humanitarian causes. Recipients have usually 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 his or 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 104 nominations received for this award in 2004-05, 54 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 7 provides a summary of the distribution of the Governor General's Academic Medals across Canada in 2004-05.

Figure 7 - 2004-05 Distribution of the Governor General's Academic Medal

Province Gold Silver
Bronze Total
Alberta 6 9 15 321 351
British Columbia 8 14 21 301 344
Manitoba 3 4 2 202 211
New Brunswick 3 4 10 73 90
Newfoundland 1 1 17 131 150
Northwest Territories 0 0 1 14 15
Nova Scotia 7 10 17 86 120
Nunavut 0 0 1 21 22
Ontario 27 33 27 871 958
Prince Edward Island 1 1 2 13 17
Québec 23 19 90 496 628
Saskatchewan 2 2 6 303 313
Yukon 0 0 0 11 11
Total 2004-05 81 97 209 2 843 3 230

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 2004-05, 92 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 the Canadian police forces. In 2004-05, 44 members of Canada's police forces were honoured with this award.

The Awards program also consists of other medals. The chart in Figure 8 outlines the other medal program awards in 2004-05.

Figure 8 - Other Awards

Award # Individuals Bestowed
this Award
Exemplary Service Medals: Police; Corrections; Fire Services; Canadian Coast Guard; Emergency Medical Services
5 433
Canadian Volunteer Medal for Korea 45
Mentions-in-Dispatch 2
Foreign Awards to Canadians 212
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 have been established in the Governor General's name.

These include 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, and the Governor General's Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case.

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 2004-05, the Governor General hosted nine awards ceremonies of this nature, attended by over 1 100 award recipients and their guests.

Although these awards are presented by the governor general, most often in a ceremony at Rideau Hall, their administration and oversight are the responsibility of third parties, such as independent foundations established expressly for that purpose, private organizations, or 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, events in Canadian history, Canadian flora and fauna, and 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 new arms; registering new grants and existing arms, flags and badges; registering Native symbols; creating and registering military badges, flags and other insignia of the Canadian Forces; registering genealogical information related to inheritance of arms; providing information on correct heraldic practice; providing information on heraldic artists who produce graphic or architectural projects and manufactured products; developing and participating in national and regional heraldic ceremonies.

In 2004-05, in fulfillment of the governor general's constitutional responsibilities for heraldic honours, 79 letters patent were issued, comprising 184 emblems (coats of arms, flags, civil and military badges). These grants include those to the Nisga'a Nation, New Aiyanish, B.C., the County of Annapolis, N.S., La Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, the police force of Saint-Jérôme, Que., West Central High School, Rocky Mountain House, Alta., The Canadian Forces Tactics School, Toronto Emergency Services, Ont., and St. Mark's Anglican Church, B.C. There were 18 formal unveilings of the new emblems, most of them large public ceremonies, including three personally presented by the Governor General.

Anniversaries, Special Messages, and Correspondence

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 2004-05, the OSGG provided Canadians with 21 773 anniversary messages on behalf of the Governor General and another 3 648 on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

Many Canadian individuals and organizations, including registered charities, municipalities, religious and social organizations also request special messages from the governor general to recognize milestones, to greet members at a conference or for fundraising events. This past year, the OSGG received and processed 953 such requests, resulting in 913 customized messages being prepared and sent.

Furthermore, the governor general receives significant volumes of correspondence from Canadians on a vast range of issues. Many simply wish to offer 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, CD, or news clipping they feel he or she may enjoy seeing. Still others may exercise their democratic right to express their disagreement with the governor general over a view he or she has expressed, or course of action he or she has undertaken. Others who write seeking the governor general's personal intervention as a last resort in a difficult financial, legal or other situation of distress are referred to federal and provincial departments best positioned to assist them, as the governor general cannot intervene in matters that are the responsibility of elected officials.

In 2004-05, the OSGG received 1 680 letters, and researched and prepared 1 096 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 8 628 electronic information enquiries and comments in 2004-05.

In total, the OSGG processed over 37 000 pieces of correspondence on behalf of the Governor General in this year.

Updated: 2018-03-26
Important Notices
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