Rick Hillier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Rick J. Hillier

Rick Hillier in Colorado.png
General Hillier in 2005
Chancellor of
Memorial University of Newfoundland
In office
Preceded byJohn Crosbie
Succeeded bySusan Knight
Chief of the Defence Staff
In office
Preceded byRay Henault
Succeeded byWalter Natynczyk
Personal details
Born1955 (age 64–65)
Campbellton, Newfoundland
OccupationCommissioned officer, public speaker
Military service
Branch/serviceCanadian Army
Years of service1973–2008
CommandsMulti-National Division (South-West),
Chief of the Land Staff,
Chief of the Defence Staff
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
AwardsCommander of the Order of Military Merit
Meritorious Service Cross
Canadian Forces Decoration

General Rick Hillier OC CMM ONL MSC CD (born 1955) is a former Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces. He held this appointment from February 4, 2005, to July 1, 2008. He retired on July 1, 2008, and was replaced by former Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) Walter Natynczyk. He is also the highest ranking Newfoundland and Labrador officer in history.[1]

Early years[edit]

Born in 1955 to Jack and Myrtle Hillier in Campbellton, Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland. He was the fourth of six children, with him being the only boy. He attended Greenwood High School and graduated in June 1972.[2] Hillier intended to join the military early, at 16. After receiving his father's permission, Hillier submitted his application to join the Canadian Forces in Spring 1972. He initially wanted to be a fighter pilot, but failed the medical examination. He then applied to join the Canadian Forces as an officer cadet at the Royal Military College of Canada but was rejected. At a similar time, he applied to and was accepted by Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Hillier chose to attend Memorial University, studying biology. While at Memorial University, his application to become an officer cadet was accepted, but chose to continue studying in Newfoundland as part of the Regular Officer Training Program.[3] While studying he met his wife, Joyce and they were married in Lower Island, Conception Bay, Newfoundland.[4] Hillier graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Early military career[edit]

He was posted to his first regiment, the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) in Petawawa, Ontario, and subsequently to the Royal Canadian Dragoons in Lahr, Germany. He has also served as a staff officer at Force Mobile Command Headquarters at CFB St. Hubert in Montreal, and at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

He commanded 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) from 1997 as Deputy Commanding General of III Armoured Corps of the United States Army, at Fort Hood, Texas.

In January 1998, as Commander 2 CMBG, he led Operation Recuperation, the Canadian Forces' intervention in the paralysing ice storm in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. He went on to command the Multi-National Division (South-West) in Bosnia-Herzegovina.[5]

He was named Chief of the Land Staff, commanding the Canadian Army, on May 30, 2003.[6] He is noted for his public calls for increased resources for the Canadian Forces.[7] In 2003, when he was appointed Chief of the Land Staff, he said, "Any commander who would stand up here and say that we didn't need more soldiers should be tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail."[8] After serving as Chief of the Land Staff and before being appointed Chief of the Defence Staff, he commanded the NATO ISAF in Afghanistan from February 9 to August 12, 2004.[9]

Chief of the Defence Staff[edit]

On February 4, 2005, Hillier became Chief of the Defence Staff. At the change-of-command ceremony he repeated his call, more broadly, for increased military funding. "In this country, we could probably not give enough resources to the men and women to do all the things that we ask them to do," he said, with Prime Minister Paul Martin and Defence Minister Bill Graham looking on. "But we can give them too little, and that is what we are now doing. Remember them in your budgets."[10]

Uncle Rick[edit]

Hillier was a beloved CDS at levels not previously seen in any previous person who filled that role. When speaking to troops on parade, he would frequently call them into a hollow circle around him rather than delivering a generic speech from a podium while they stood to attention. Hillier would regularly sit and eat with the troops in the mess; this at a time when most Generals insisted they be given their own mess separate from the others. At briefings, Hillier asked every person what they thought about a situation at hand – regardless of their rank, language, or nationality.[11]

Media criticism[edit]

Hillier was known for his plain-spoken language and focus on frontline capabilities. Early in his term as CDS, he drew criticism from the media when he called terrorists "detestable murderers and scumbags".[12] He went further, saying "we're not the public service of Canada. We're not just another department. We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people."[13]


On April 15, 2008, Hillier announced he would step down as CDS on July 1, 2008.[14]

Hillier was subsequently appointed as chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland, effective July 3, 2008.[15]

Post-military career and community involvement[edit]

Public speaking[edit]

Upon retirement in 2008, Hillier joined the public speaking arena and developed his own speaking agency.[16]

Working with a number of large corporate clients, Hillier's speaking detailed the experiences of troops under his command, emphasizing the theme of "leadership in tough times."[17]

Project Hero[edit]

In 2009, Hillier co-founded Project Hero, a scholarship program for the children of Canadian Forces personnel killed while on active military duty. The Children of Deceased Veterans – Education Assistance Act verification is used to verify Project Hero eligibility. The process is administered by the Veterans Affairs Canada.[18]

Memorial University[edit]

On July 3, 2008, Hillier began a term as Chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland, his alma mater. He served until 2012.

On August 14, 2008, Telus announced that Hillier was appointed as Chair of Telus Atlantic Canada Community Board. Hillier said, “Telus is a company that gets stuff done both in business and in the community – I like that. They are entrusting their philanthropic efforts in Atlantic Canada to people who live and work here. I'm excited about the opportunity to help Telus engage with the Atlantic Canada communities that are so very important to me.”[19]

TD Bank[edit]

Hillier announced on September 3, 2008, he will be working at an Ottawa office for the TD Bank to support initiatives that enhance the client and customer experience and to assist the bank's ongoing leadership development and training activities.[20]

Peacekeeping Envoy[edit]

Hillier is currently working with the United Nations as PeaceKeeping Envoy to Afghanistan.

Provincial Aerospace[edit]

On June 16, 2009, while attending the 48th International Paris Air Show, Provincial Aerospace announced that Hillier will join the company’s Advisory Board.[21]


Since his retirement from the military Hillier's name has been mentioned as a leadership candidate for several political parties. Hillier's name was mentioned by political pundits as a possible successor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, during Harper's minority Conservative government.[22] When Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams retired from politics in 2010, Hillier's name was brought up as a possible successor to the Progressive Conservative premier.[23] In August 2011, his name was brought up once again as a potential Liberal leader in his home province, when leader Yvonne Jones resigned. Hillier has stated on several occasions however that he has no interest in politics.[24]


In 2011, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his service to our nation, which has inspired pride in our Canadian Forces".[25] In December 2013, it was announced that Hillier would be appointed to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador by Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan during a ceremony in February 2014.[26]

Ribbon bars of General (Ret'd) RJ Hillier
OC, CMM, ONL, MSC, CD [27]


  • Hillier, Rick (2010) A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War; hardcover, 552 pages; published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; ISBN 978-1554684915.
  • Hillier, Rick (2010) Leadership: 50 Points of Wisdom for Today's Leaders; hardcover, 272 pages; published by Harper Collins Publishers Ltd; ISBN 978-1554684939.


  1. ^ "Harper to name new top general: report". The Ottawa Citizen. June 6, 2008. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008.
  2. ^ Hillier, pp. 19, 21, 23
  3. ^ Hillier, pp. 28–29
  4. ^ Hillier, p. 29
  5. ^ "Stabilisation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Previous Commanders". nato.int. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Lieutenant-General R.J. Hillier, CMM, CD, Chief of the Land Staff". Canadian Department of National Defence. Archived from the original on February 19, 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  7. ^ Chase, Steven (2008-06-06). "'Gentleman general' named new defence chief". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  8. ^ Ward, John (2017-09-30). "Rick Hillier reconnected Canadians with Forces". CTV.ca. Ottawa. Canadian Press. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  9. ^ "Canada in Afghanistan: 2004 – The Long Road". nationalpost.com. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  10. ^ The essential Rick Hillier: Facts and quotes, CTV News, April 15, 2008
  11. ^ "Why troops so loved Gen. Hillier". Edmonton Journal. 3 July 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  12. ^ "Gen. Hillier explains the Afghan mission". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Munk Debates – Rick Hillier". munkdebates.com. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  14. ^ DND/CF | News Release | Message from the Chief of the Defence Staff to the Canadian Forces Archived 2008-04-22 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ CTV News, June 26, 2008 Hillier named chancellor of Memorial University (retrieved 06/27/2008)
  16. ^ Rick Watson. "The Inspiration Series". inspirationseries.ca. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  17. ^ "The Hillier Inspiration Series". The Hillier Inspiration Series. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  18. ^ Project Hero Archived January 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Telus News Release 08/14/2008 [1] (retrieved 09/11/2009)
  20. ^ "Retired general Rick Hillier to work with TD bank". 2008-09-03. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  21. ^ Provincial Aerospace Press Release Archived 2012-09-06 at Archive.today
  22. ^ Ivison, John (23 January 2009). "General doesn't want Harper's job". National Post. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Hillier 'probably' not running for N.L. leader". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  24. ^ Carlson, Kathryn Blaze (11 August 2011). "Hillier shoots down rumours of N.L. Liberal leadership bid". National Post. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  25. ^ "Appointments to the Order of Canada".
  26. ^ "Individuals to be Invested into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador".
  27. ^ Inspector General. "Wearing Your Medals Wrong". wearingyourmedalswrong.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 26 October 2015.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Robin Brims
Commander Multi-National Division (South-West), Bosnia
Succeeded by
Tony van Diepenbrugge
Preceded by
Mike Jeffery
Chief of the Land Staff
Succeeded by
Marc Caron
Preceded by
Goetz Gliemeroth
Commander, International Security Assistance Force
February 2004 – August 2004
Succeeded by
Jean-Louis Py
Preceded by
R. R. J. Henault
Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
W. J. Natynczyk
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Crosbie
Chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland
Succeeded by
Susan Knight