Now that we know who sits in cabinet and what a privy councillor is, it might help to know how to address such exalted persons.
When writing to a privy councillor, address the envelope to, “The Hon. Jacob Jingler, PC,” or, “The Hon. Jane Jumble, PC.” Omit the honorifics, “Mr.,” “Ms.,” or “Mrs.”
Inside, the salutation should be: “Dear Mr. Jingler,” or “Dear Ms. Jumble.”
When meeting a privy councillor, use “Sir” or “Madam.” The title, “Honourable” isn’t used in conversation.
If a privy councillor happens also to be a British privy councillor, use, “The right Hon.” in writing.
Suppose you want to register displeasure re the Omnibus Bill by sounding off to your member of parliament. Address your letter this way: “The Hon. Jacob Jingler, PC, MP, Minister of This and That, Ottawa.”
No postage or postal codes are needed when writing to a member of parliament.
Inside, write: “Dear Sir,” or, “Dear Mr. Jingler.”
If you visit Jingler’s committee room or constituency office and meet him in person, call him, “Sir,” or, “Mr. Jingler.”
I worked for the Alberta Government under the minister responsible for Northern Development, The Hon. Allan Adair. We spoke to him as, “Mr. Minister.” While not incorrect, this form is considered “informal” (not used in writing).
Federal cabinet ministers retain the title, “The Honourable,” for life. Provincial ministers lose that title when their terms end. This holds true even for the premier.
When meeting a premier, you may say, “Mr. Premier” (informal) or “Sir.”
Similarly, speak to the prime minister as, “Sir,” or “Mr. Prime Minister” (informal). Write to him as, “The Rt. Hon. Alvin Pleeb, PC, MP, Prime Minister of Canada, Ottawa.”
Inside the letter, write, “Dear Sir,” or “Dear Prime Minister.” Do not write, “Dear Dingbat,” no matter what you think of him.
Perhaps you’d like to wish the Queen a happy Silver Jubilee. It’s not good form to address mail directly to a ruling monarch. Instead, send communications to: “The Private Secretary to the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London, U.K.”
Ask that your greetings be forwarded to Her Majesty. Do not write, “Dear Queen Elizabeth,” or “Dear” anything. Begin your letter this way: “Your Majesty,” or, “Madam.”
If Elizabeth II greets you during a walk-about, use, “Your Majesty,” the first time you speak to her, and thereafter call her, “Ma’am.”
The Governor General of Canada carries the title, “Right Honourable” for life. He’s also a lifetime member of the privy council as well as chancellor of the Order of Canada. Thus, he is addressed as, “His Excellency, The Rt. Hon. Newton Notion, PC, CC.”
Write: “Sir,” or, “Dear Governor General.” Call him or her, “Sir,” “Madam,” or, “Your Excellency” in conversation.
A prime minister’s or premier’s wife has no special title, but the governor general’s spouse is known as, “Your Excellency.”
The prime minister’s wife is not Canada’s “First Lady.” This Americanism should never be used in referring to such a wife. If Canada did use, “First Lady,” the title would belong to the governor general’s wife.