Military Wiki
Rick J. Hillier
General Hillier in 2005
Born 1955 (age 66–67)
Place of birth Campbellton, Newfoundland
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch Armour
Years of service 1973-2008
Rank General
Commands held Multi-National Division (South-West),
Chief of the Land Staff,
Chief of the Defence Staff
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan
Awards Commander of the Order of Military Merit
Meritorious Service Cross
Canadian Forces Decoration

General (Ret.) Rick Hillier, OC, CMM, MSC, CD (born 1955), is the 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

Born in 1955 and raised in Campbellton, Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland, he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Early military career

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.[2]

He was named Chief of the Land Staff, commanding the Canadian Army, on May 30, 2003.[3] He is noted for his public calls for increased resources for the Canadian Forces.[4] 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."[5] 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.

Chief of the Defence Staff

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."[6]


On April 15, 2008, Hillier announced he would step down as CDS on July 1, 2008.[7]

Hillier was subsequently appointed as chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland, effective July 3, 2008.[8]

Post-military career and community involvement


Released in October 2009, Hillier's first book quickly became a Canadian bestseller, "A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War"; hardcover, 552 pages; published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; ISBN 1554684919; ISBN 978-1554684915.

In October 2010, Hillier released, "Leadership: 50 Points of Wisdom for Today's Leaders"; hardcover, 272 pages; published by Harper Collins Publishers Ltd; ISBN 1554684935; ISBN 978-1554684939.

Public speaking

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

Over the last four years, Hillier has worked with the following companies

Exxon Mobil, Telus Mobile, Rogers Communications, TD Bank, American Express, Tim Hortons, Canadian Olympic Committee, Best Buy, Gowlings, KPMG, Ontario Police Association, among other organizations and associations.[9]

His speaking topic includes the following: Leadership in Tough Times A talk on leadership in tough times based on lessons learned from the school of hard knocks. Illustrating leadership lessons through the stories of the men and women who represent our country around the world, supported by their families, and doing the toughest jobs imaginable. Their leadership, proven and real, can serve to guide leaders in every part of our society, because they have absorbed that leadership is all about people.[9]

Project Hero

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.[10] There is controversy about the nature of the Project Hero Scholarship and its benefits.[11]

Memorial University

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

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.”[12]

TD Bank

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.[13]

Peacekeeping Envoy

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

Provincial Aerospace

On June 16, 2009, while attending the 48th International Paris Air Show, Provincial Aerospace announced that Hillier will join the company’s Advisory Board.[14]


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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]


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".[18]


  1. Harper to name new top general: report, The Ottawa Citizen, June 6, 2008
  2. SFOR
  3. "Lieutenant-General R.J. Hillier, CMM, CD, Chief of the Land Staff". Canadian Department of National Defence. Retrieved 2008-10-06. [dead link]
  4. Chase, Steven (2008-06-06). "'Gentleman general' named new defence chief". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2008-06-07. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  5. Ward, John (2008-06-29). "Rick Hillier reconnected Canadians with Forces". Ottawa. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  6. The essential Rick Hillier: Facts and quotes, CTV News, April 15, 2008
  7. DND/CF | News Release | Message from the Chief of the Defence Staff to the Canadian Forces
  8. CTV News, June 26, 2008 Hillier named chancellor of Memorial University (retrieved 06/27/2008)
  9. 9.0 9.1 "The Hillier Inspiration Series". The Hillier Inspiration Series. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  10. Project Hero
  11. The Dominion 05/13/2010 [1] (retrieved 03/31/2011)
  12. Telus News Release 08/14/2008 [2] (retrieved 09/11/2009)
  13. "Retired general Rick Hillier to work with TD Bank". 2008-09-03. 
  14. Provincial Aerospace Press Release
  15. Ivison, John (23 January 2009). "General doesn't want Harper's job". Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  16. "Hillier 'probably' not running for N.L. leader". 3 December 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  17. Carlson, Kathryn Blaze (11 August 2011). "Hillier shoots down rumours of N.L. Liberal leadership bid". Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  18. "Appointments to the Order of Canada". 

External links

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
His Honour the Hon. John Crosbie
Chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland
Succeeded by
Susan Knight

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