We hope you’ll join us for our annual Tribute to our Public Defenders on November 13, 2017, with General (Ret’d) Tom Lawson, former Chief of Defence Staff, as be our guest speaker.
General (Ret’d) Thomas J Lawson
As a member of perhaps our nation’s only four-generation Royal Canadian Air Force family, General Lawson looks back on his 40-year military career with deep appreciation. Among many things, it taught him the critical importance of developing leadership qualities within organizations. He especially looks upon his time as Chief of the Defence Staff in command of the Canadian Armed Forces as key in broadening and honing his strategic visioning skills.
Tom Lawson grew up in Etobicoke, Ontario, and graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He completed pilot training and was posted to Germany where he flew the CF-104 Starfighter. He then returned to the Royal Military College to complete a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and to serve as a lecturer at RMC.
Lawson attended the United States Air Force Staff College in Alabama and completed a Master’s of Public Administration at Auburn University.
Completing CF-18 Hornet training, he returned to Germany to fly operationally until the base closed. Lawson then returned to CFB Cold Lake to instruct on the CF-18, where he was in charge of the Fighter Weapons Instructor Course.
Appointed Commanding Officer of 412 Squadron, he flew the Challenger aircraft in the VIP role, and was then placed in charge of career management for the Air Force, during which time he completed the United States Air Force Air War College.
As a Colonel, Lawson joined General Hillier’s CF Transformation Team and led the stand up of the Strategic Joint Staff. He was then posted to CFB Trenton as commander of the nation’s largest base before being promoted to Brigadier-General and appointed Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada.
Promoted to Major-General, Lawson was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, then was promoted to Lieutenant-General and appointed Deputy Commander NORAD in Colorado Springs.
In 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment of General Lawson as incoming Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) to replace outgoing General Walter Natynczyk. As CDS, Lawson oversaw the completion of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, the deployment of Canadian troops to Eastern Europe following Russian aggression in Crimea, and the Canadian Forces contribution to the coalition effort against the Islamic State. He completed his term as CDS in July 2015.
Lawson graduated from RMC as Cadet Wing Commander and Sword of Honour recipient. He was top graduate on his Starfighter and Hornet training. He was appointed Commander of the Order of Military Merit in 2012.
General (Ret’d) Lawson now engages in Board work, provides strategic advice to C-suite executives and enjoys speaking engagements based on his years in Canadian Armed Forces command positions.