Working with special guests
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
Special guests, such as former federal cabinet ministers, provincial cabinet ministers, members of provincial and territorial legislatures, elected municipal leaders and civic and community leaders, may be guests at citizenship ceremonies. Special guests may make brief remarks welcoming new citizens and congratulate them during the ceremony, after they have received their certificates.
In a ceremony where there are many invited guests, the guests holding a higher office/rank will join the platform party on the stage area, with the remaining guests sitting in the front rows in reserved seats. See Order of precedence at citizenship ceremonies.
If there is a reception after the ceremony, all guests are invited and expected to attend and mingle with the new citizens and their guests.
Inviting special guests
Prior to inviting special guests that are senior public officials or prominent figures (e.g. members of Parliament, provincial lieutenant governors, provincial members of legislatures, local mayors, celebrities), CIC officials are also asked to obtain consent from the Manager of the Citizenship Program Delivery and Promotion at NHQ before any invitation is extended. See Notifications of prominent guests.
Citizenship ceremonies are organized and held as state functions; as such CIC bears full responsibility for the ceremony. Therefore, invitations to ceremonies are to be extended by CIC officials.
When citizenship judges wish to invite guests to ceremonies, they too will provide a list of guests for approval by CIC, and once approved, CIC can extend the invitation. It is the responsibility of local offices to ensure that all invited guests understand and respect CIC’s guidelines concerning citizenship ceremonies.
The clerk of the ceremony should brief guests on the protocol of the citizenship ceremony, making it clear that political, religious, controversial and commercial topics are not appropriate.
In the event of a ceremony being hosted by a community group or other partner, CIC officials work closely with these organizations. The host organization provides CIC officials with a list of the special guests whom they would like to invite to the event. See Notification of prominent guests attending a citizenship ceremony.
Upon approval, CIC officials will issue an invitation to the special guests.
The Governor General, lieutenant governors, the Prime Minister and federal cabinet ministers usually speak for about three to four minutes.
Other special guests should speak no longer than two to three minutes. Their remarks should offer congratulations to the new citizens, welcome them and bring greetings from the organizations the speakers represent.
Local citizenship officials can exercise their discretion to limit the number of speaking guests at a citizenship ceremony. It is recommended that one to two speakers are appropriate for a standard ceremony and no more than three speakers for an enhanced ceremony (e.g. Canada Day).
All persons invited to speak at the ceremony must be aware that the ceremony is not an opportunity to present political views, to present a point of view, or to sell a product. Their greetings should offer congratulations to the new citizens.
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