Navy embraces new ambassador

Honorary Captain Peter Bissonette

Newly appointed Honorary Captain (Navy) Peter Bissonette, President of Shaw Communications, accepts a toast at his official appointment ceremony.

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) grew by one prestigious member Sept. 18 as Shaw President Peter Bissonnette was appointed Honorary Naval Captain.

Friends, family, honoured guests and military personnel gathered at the Military Museums of Calgary to see him sworn in by Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence.

“It is a privilege to appoint Mr. Peter Bissonnette as an Honorary Naval Captain,” said Minister Nicholson. “As a prominent member of the Calgary business community, I am convinced he will be an excellent ambassador for the Navy and continue to strengthen the vital relationship between the Royal Canadian Navy and industry.”

The President of Shaw Communications heard about his naval position nine months ago and says he’s proud to join the naval community.

“I sat down with VAdm Maddison in December for the interview, which coincidentally fell on my birthday,” he says. “When I found out that I’d been accepted I thought it was the best birthday present ever.”

The Minister of National Defence, on the recommendations from the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, is the approving authority for all appointments. These appointments are generally for a period of three years, although extensions may be granted.

HCapt(N) Bissonnette’s official appointment took place in his hometown of Calgary. He’s already received his new salt and pepper uniform, which has garnered the praise of his wife Tracy.

“She has always loved a man in uniform, so that’s a definite plus,” HCapt(N) Bissonnete says. “When I got fitted for it I took a picture and sent it to her. She’s happy and that makes me happy.”

He considers his role as further service to Canada, having already served in uniform as a young man: one year as a naval reservist in HMCS Carleton, and three years in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a radar technician. He says those experiences offer him a unique understanding on military life, something he will bring to the fore in his work with the Calgary business community.

Honorary Naval Captains act as a bridge between military and civilian communities, and represent diverse areas of Canadian society, from politics and business, to journalism and the arts. They bring with them unique skills and connections that help strengthen the navy’s ties to Canadian communities and promote a better understanding of maritime defence issues.

“It’s a complex, but vital relationship that the military shares with the civilian world,” he says. “It’s important that I use my new position to help bridge the two communities. I’ve spent mornings lying in bed thinking about the things we can do. It’s going to be very interesting.”

CFB Esquimalt will be his home base, and he’ll work closely with RAdm Bill Truelove, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific.

“RAdm Truelove is a great guy, he’s been very open and supportive of me in the months leading up to my appointment,” says HCapt(N) Bissonnette. “I look forward to working with him in the future to join the civilian and military worlds in a way that is mutually beneficial.”

Honorary Naval Captains are quite visible, attending significant naval, Canadian Forces, and public events and ceremonies in uniform across the country.

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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