Rick J. Hillier Canadian Forces general, who served as the chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) from 4 February 2005 to 1 July 2008. He previously served as the chief of the Land Staff from 30 May 2003 until his promotion to CDS.(born 1955) is a retired
|Chief of the Defence Staff|
February 4, 2005 – July 1, 2008
|Preceded by||Ray Henault|
|Succeeded by||Walter Natynczyk|
|Chief of the Land Staff|
May 30, 2003 – February 4, 2005
|Preceded by||Mike Jeffery|
|Succeeded by||Marc Caron|
|Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force|
November 23, 2020 – March 31, 2021
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Homer Tien|
|Chancellor of the Memorial University of Newfoundland|
July 3, 2008 – 2012
|Preceded by||John Crosbie|
|Succeeded by||Susan Knight|
|Born||1955 (age 66–67)|
|Alma mater||Memorial University of Newfoundland (BSc)|
|Occupation||Military officer, public speaker|
|Branch/service||Land Force Command|
|Years of service||1973–2008|
|Commands||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
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.
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 he chose to continue studying in Newfoundland as part of the Regular Officer Training Program.
In January 1998, as commander of 2 CMBG, he led Operation Recuperation, the Canadian Forces' intervention in the paralyzing ice storm in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. He went on to command the Multi-National Division (South-West) in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
He was named chief of the land staff, commanding Land Force Command, on May 30, 2003. He is noted for his public calls for increased resources for the Canadian Forces. 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." 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.
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 Minister of National Defence Bill Graham looking on. "But we can give them too little, and that is what we are now doing. Remember them in your budgets." Upon his appointment, he became the highest-ranking military officer from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Hillier was a popular CDS. 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. At briefings, Hillier asked every person what they thought about a situation at hand – regardless of their rank, language, or nationality.
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". 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."
On April 15, 2008, Hillier announced he would step down as CDS on July 1, 2008.
Hillier was subsequently appointed as chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland, effective July 3, 2008.
Upon retirement in 2008, Hillier joined the public speaking arena and developed his own speaking agency.
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."
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 Veterans Affairs Canada.
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.”
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.
On June 16, 2009, while attending the 48th International Paris Air Show, Provincial Aerospace announced that Hillier will join the company’s Advisory Board.
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. 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. 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.
In November 2020, Hillier was appointed as the chair of the vaccine distribution taskforce for Ontario by Premier Doug Ford in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario. Hillier leads the task-force in its rollout and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada, distributed federally and administered by the province. After the Christmas and holiday season in December, 2020, Hillier formally apologized to Ontarians for halting vaccine administration for a number of days, calling the move a "mistake". Hillier left the position March 31, 2021. He was replaced with Homer Tien as operation lead.
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". In December 2013, it was announced that Hillier would be appointed to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador by Lieutenant Governor Frank Fagan during a ceremony in February 2014.
|Ribbon bars of General (Ret'd) RJ Hillier |
OC, CMM, ONL, MSC, CD 
|Order of Canada (OC)||
|Order of Military Merit (CMM)||
|Order of St John (O.StJ)||
|Order of Newfoundland and Labrador (ONL)||
|Meritorious Service Cross (MSC)||
|General Campaign Star||
|Special Service Medal|
|Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal||
|United Nations Medal||
during the Yugoslav Wars
|125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal||
|Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal||
|Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal||
|Canadian Forces Decoration (CD)||
|Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan||
|Alberta Centennial Medal||
|Order of Orange-Nassau||
|Legion of Merit||
|Queen's Commendation for Bravery||
|Newfoundland and Labrador||1975||Memorial University of Newfoundland||Bachelor of Science (B.Sc)|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||2008–2012||Memorial University of Newfoundland||Chancellor|
This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (September 2021)
|Location||Date||School||Degree||Gave Commencement Address|
|Ontario||13 November 2009||Royal Military College of Canada||Doctor of Military Science (D.Sc.Mil) |
|Alberta||11 December 2010||University of Calgary||Doctorate |
|Newfoundland and Labrador||29 May 2013||Memorial University of Newfoundland||Doctor of Laws (LL.D)|
This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (February 2021)
|Ontario||2008||Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph||Lincoln Alexander Outstanding Leader Award |
This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (February 2021)