Representing 60 countries, more than 100 newly arrived Ambassadors, High Commissioners, deputy heads of mission, military attaches and other members of the diplomatic community registered for the 7th Annual Orientation for Newly Arrived Diplomats at Carleton University’s Richcraft Hall on Thursday October 5, 2017.

The orientation consisted of sessions on Canada’s parliamentary system; Canadian business and the private sector; the media and other sources of information and influence; and social and family Integration.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Geoff Regan, opened the session on Understanding Canada’s Parliamentary System with a discussion of his role as Speaker and of parliamentary diplomacy, including his relationship with the diplomatic community. The new Clerk of the House of Commons, Charles Robert, gave a presentation on Canada’s parliamentary system.

Maureen Boyd, Director of the Carleton Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement, moderated a panel with three Members of Parliament:  the Honourable Andrew Leslie, M.P. for Orleans and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Erin O’Toole, M.P. for Durham and Conservative shadow cabinet minister for Foreign Affairs, and Hélène Laverdière, M.P. for Laurier–Sainte-Marie and NDP critic for foreign affairs.

The panel moderated by Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute with participants Frank Graves, pollster and president of EKOS Research Associates; Susan Delacourt, author, columnist and instructor with the Carleton School of Journalism; and Kristen Shane, managing editor of The Hill Times offered thoughts on current public opinion and practical advice for dealing with parliamentarians, media, and lobbyists as well as their suggestions for good sources of information.

Jayson Myers, senior vice president at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, delivered a presentation on the Canadian economy and investing in Canada as well as how to engage with Canadian businesses.

Mona Fortier, M.P. for Ottawa Vanier welcomed diplomats to Ottawa, noting that the majority of diplomatic residences were located in her riding.

The Chief of Protocol, Roy Norton, informed diplomats of a complementary orientation at Global Affairs Canada to be held this fall to provide information on Canadian governance and structure and access points of government departments and agencies.  He then introduced Her Excellency Sofia Cerrato Rodriguez, Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras and vice-president of the Ottawa Diplomatic Association, informed the new diplomats of the role that the Association plays in the diplomatic community and invited them to join.

Dr. Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the National Capital Commission, and His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, explained the structure and governance of the NCC and the city of Ottawa and how diplomatic missions can play a role as well as the recreational, tourist and cultural activities available.

Dr. André Plourde, Dean of the Faculty of Public Affairs, opened the orientation and Carleton President Dr. Alastair Summerlee offered closing remarks.

Following the sessions, there was a lunch and resource fair that featured government and private organizations that provide services to diplomats in areas such as education, tourism, culture, recreation, social clubs, publications, volunteering and children’s issues. Participants included the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission, Rideau Hall, Volunteer Ottawa, Canadian Federation of University Women, the Hill Times and others.

The orientation was presented by the Carleton Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement in association with the Ottawa Diplomatic Association and the Parliamentary Centre. It was free and open to newly arrived diplomats, diplomats who may have missed earlier orientation and spouses.