The Diplomatic Corps
The representatives of a sending country are located in the embassy or high commission of that country in the receiving nation's capital, in Canada's case, Ottawa. Embassies are the offices of foreign countries, while high commissions are the offices of Commonwealth countries. The "head of mission," i.e. the senior diplomat representing his/her country, is the ambassador (for foreign countries) or high commissioner (for Commonwealth countries). Both are addressed as "Your Excellency" and referred to as "His/Her Excellency."
Other diplomats, in order of seniority, are:
- chargé d'affaires (replaces absent ambassador);
- first, second and third secretary; and
The role of embassies and high commissions is to represent the interest of their sending countries;
- act as channels of information and negotiation between governments;
- look after their own nationals in the host country;
- promote trade, investment, cultural and political relations; and
- to be sources of information on their countries.
Ambassadors/high commissioners of many countries visit most provinces of Canada during their postings to Ottawa, in order to familiarize themselves with the local/regional economic, social and cultural situation and the policies of provincial governments. The status, privileges and immunities of diplomats are governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).
The Consular Corps
Regional or local representatives of embassies or high commissions are known as the consular corps. Their status, privileges and immunities are governed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963. Their role is to represent the interests of their embassies/high commissions, and specifically to promote trade, investment, cultural and other relations in the regions. Another task is to provide passports for their own nationals and to arrange visas where required for citizens of the host country. They also handle day-to-day issues or problems of their own nationals, e.g. those in trouble with the laws of the host country. They often arrange visits of their ambassadors or high commissioners or prominent people from their countries.
The senior consular post is a consulate-general, whose head is a consul-general. The next-ranking post is the consulate, whose head is a consul. Other consular personnel, in order of seniority, are: vice-consul and consular agent. These offices are assigned specific geographical areas in Canada. Usually only larger countries have the resources for consular posts.
Consular officers, as opposed to "career" (or professional) consuls, are local nationals invited by a sending country to represent its interests on an unpaid basis; they have very limited consular privileges and immunities. Saskatchewan has no career consuls, but does have several members of the honorary consular corps.
Consular Officers in Saskatchewan
Honorary Consuls are local citizens invited by a foreign country to represent its interests in an area or province on an honorary, unpaid basis.