Not only did he work tirelessly to rebuild the Canadian Armed Forces to a level of respectability, he instilled a long-lost pride in our military by spearheading the change from ‘peacekeeping force’ to actual ‘military’. In some nations, they would give him his own ‘day’.
In usual Canadian form, he is underappreciated and, in some cases, scoffed at by his countrymen.
When General Rick Hillier leaves his spot as Chief of the Defense Staff this July, he will leave a legacy of no-nonsense policy and strong, confident leadership. As the top military man in Canada, Gen. Hillier became the first real outspoken champion of our Armed Forces in decades, and never backed away from stating the truth, no matter whose toes were in the way.
When the mind-numbing politicians and the general public went round and round over the silly issue of extending the mission beyond the original, former Liberal government-imposed date of 2009, the good General waded into the fray:
"... Is it too much to ask that our Parliament ... show their support for the men and women who will execute the (Afghanistan) mission by voting overwhelmingly to support them in the danger and risks they will encounter?."
Gen. Hillier’s comments often landed on the front page of the paper and on the lips of Opposition parties in the House of Commons.
Never one to be tied down with the shackles of political correctness, he was cheered by realists and shocked the leftwing elite when he gave the truthful response to his opinion of the terrorists Canada was at war with:
"These are detestable murderers and scumbags. They detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties…..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."
The Liberals, fresh from election defeat and suffering life with a lame-duck leader, did a classic leftwing move and flip-flopped on their position regarding Afghanistan. Comically trying to reduce the issue to dates and semantics – “…we agreed to send the troops to Afghanistan, but we never meant for them to actually…you know…fight…” – the Libs reacted in desperation by targeting Hillier.
The General’s response set the tone for his public image and his leadership. The men and women wearing the uniform took notice and felt, possibly for the first time ever, that their leader had their backs. He broached the subject of past Liberal government cutbacks of the 1990’s that gutted the Armed Forces when he fired back:
"Those actions, dollar deprived, have now led to some deep wounds in ... the Canadian Forces over this past, what I would call, a decade of darkness."
Of course, nothing the poor Liberals threw at Hillier stuck. It turned out the Canadian public approved of General Hillier way more than any of the thieving Liberal whackos in Parliament. That prompted the Liberals to try the ‘he’s a puppet of the evil, war-mongering Prime Minister Harper and his minion Conservatives’ angle, again to no avail. Hillier wouldn't play favorites, and public disagreements over the proposed length of the military mission between Harper and Hillier proved that the General was nobody’s puppet.
That didn’t stop the more outspoken of our nation’s leftwing to accuse Hillier of having ulterior motives. The desperation to tear down a Canadian military hero is strong in some circles, especially in the more artistic communities. (Note to Matthew Good: your psychosis is showing.)
With the imminent departure of a true Canadian hero, we can only hope that a lasting effect of General Hillier’s time at the top will be continued strong and proud leadership in the Forces and in the War on Terror. General Hillier deserves our thanks and our respect for the amazing success he achieved.