In his new memoir, General Rick Hillier, former chief of defence staff, reportedly discusses the return of bodies from Afghanistan and his insistence that ceremonies for the deceased be public.
He was regularly questioned about decisions to give public speeches, attend public functions or grant interviews. But the biggest pushback came after a decision to hold a full and open ceremony when the bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan were returned to Canada to make the sombre trek along Highway 401 from CFB Trenton to Toronto, a section that’s now known as the Highway of Heroes.
“Our new policy faced a few hiccups, particularly when we had pressure from PMO staffers suggesting … that we should keep the aircraft with soldiers’ remains out of sight, or we should do it late in the evening or early in the morning,” he writes. “This was a line in the sand for me.”