Hugh Segal

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Hugh Segal
Hugh Segal, Master of Massey College.JPG
5th Principal of Massey College
In office
July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2019
Preceded byJohn Fraser
Succeeded byNathalie Des Rosiers
Canadian Senator
for Kingston—Frontenac—Leeds, Ontario
In office
August 2, 2005 – June 15, 2014
Appointed byPaul Martin
4th Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister
In office
April 14, 1992 – June 25, 1993
Prime MinisterBrian Mulroney
Preceded byNorman Spector
Succeeded byDavid McLaughlin
Personal details
Born (1950-10-13) October 13, 1950 (age 71)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyConservative
Alma materUniversity of Ottawa

Hugh Segal, OC OOnt CD (born October 13, 1950) is a Canadian political strategist, author, commentator, academic and former senator. He served as Chief of Staff to Ontario Premier Bill Davis and later to Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Segal resigned from the Senate of Canada effective June 15, 2014, as a result of his appointment as Master (later Principal) of Massey College in Toronto.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Politics and public policy[edit]

Segal was inspired by a visit from Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1962 to his school, United Talmud Torah Academy in Montreal.[2] Segal went on to graduate from the University of Ottawa and was an aide to federal Progressive Conservative Leader of the Opposition Robert Stanfield in the early 1970s, while still a university student.

At the age of 21, he was an unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidate in Ottawa Centre for the House of Commons of Canada in the 1972 general election. He was defeated again in 1974.

As a member of the Big Blue Machine, Segal was a senior aide to Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Bill Davis in the 1970s and 1980s, and he was named Deputy Minister at age 29. From 1992 to 1993, he was Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Segal finished second to Joe Clark after the first ballot of the 1998 Progressive Conservative leadership election, but he chose to withdraw and support Clark (the eventual winner) in the second ballot runoff vote against third-place finisher David Orchard. He had also briefly considered running for the PC leadership in 1993.


Senator Hugh Segal, Canadian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Shellie Viding and other delegates met E. Saravanapavan at the Uthayan newspaper premises in Jaffna, 2013

In 2005, Segal was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin. He was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee until he "reluctantly" agreed to resign in 2007 at the request of the Conservative government, which reportedly wished to appoint a more ideologically conservative senator to the role after the committee issued a report critical of the Conservative government's foreign aid policy. Segal insisted, however, that the move was an administrative one.[3] Segal later served as Chair of the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism.

In December 2013, he announced his intention to resign from the Senate in June 2014, twelve years before he would reach the mandatory retirement age of 75, to accept an academic appointment as Master of Massey College in Toronto.


On July 7, 2010, he was appointed to the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG) by Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma. The group's mandate is to set out decisive recommendations on how to strengthen the Commonwealth and fulfill its potential in the 21st century. In December 2011 the federal government appointed him special envoy to the Commonwealth with the task of convincing individual countries to sign on to the EPG's 106 recommendations.[4]

Political views[edit]

Segal espouses a moderate brand of conservatism that has little in common with British Thatcherism or US neoconservatism. He is a Red Tory in the tradition of Benjamin Disraeli, Sir John A. Macdonald, John Diefenbaker and his mentors Robert Stanfield and Bill Davis. This political philosophy stresses the common good and promotes social harmony between classes. It is often associated with One Nation Conservatism. The focus is on order, good government and mutual responsibility. Individual rights and personal freedom are not considered absolute. In his book Beyond Greed: A Traditional Conservative Confronts Neo-Conservative Excess (Toronto: Stoddart, 1997), Segal sought to distinguish what he called "traditional" conservatives from neo-conservatives, notably those in the United States.

In an earlier book, his 1996 memoir No Surrender (page 225), Segal wrote: "Progressive Conservatives cannot embrace the nihilistic defeatism that masquerades as a neo-conservative polemic in support of individual freedom and disengagement." He went on to deplore "American fast-food conservatism." In a speech to the National Press Club on June 21, 1995, Segal referred to the "selfish and directionless nature of the American revolution -- which was more about self-interest, mercantile opportunity, and who collected what tax than it was about tolerance or freedom."

Segal opposed on civil liberties grounds the imposition of the War Measures Act by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the October Crisis of 1970. He favours strengthening Canada's military and encouraging investment, while maintaining a strong social safety net. His 1998 proposal to reduce Canada's Goods and Services Tax from 7% to 6% (and then 5%) was adopted by Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party in 2005. During his leadership campaign he stated his support for capital punishment. Segal's most recent book is The Long Road Back: The Conservative Journey, 1993-2006 (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2006).

On 6 June 2012, Segal had a comment published in the National Post[5] outlining his views on Basic Income. In December 2012, Segal published an essay[6] in the Literary Review of Canada promoting the benefits of a guaranteed annual income.


In the 1980s and 1990s, Segal became a television pundit and newspaper columnist. In the private sector, Segal has been an executive in the advertising, brewing, and financial services industries.


Segal's book Two Freedoms: Canada's Global Future was published by Dundurn Press in April 2016.[7]

Published by On Point Press, an imprint of UBC Press on October 15th of 2019, Segal released his second book, Bootstraps Need Boots: One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada.

Academic work[edit]

Segal lives in Kingston, Ontario, and until 2014 was a faculty member at Queen's University's School of Policy Studies, and has also taught at the university's school of business. He served as president of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal think tank, from 1999 to 2006. He sits on the board of directors and is a distinguished fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.[8] He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission.[9]

Segal was appointed Master of Massey College in the University of Toronto (effective at the end of June 2014) and retired from the Senate in order to accept the position.[10] He retired from the Massey College position effective June 30, 2019, five years into his seven-year term, and was succeeded by Nathalie Des Rosiers.[11]



He is the brother of corporate executive and former university administrator Brian Segal, and of artist Seymour Segal. He is married to Donna Armstrong Segal, a former Ontario Ministry of Health executive. They have one daughter, Jacqueline.

Electoral record[edit]

1998 Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leadership election

Points by ballot
Candidate First Ballot
October 24
Second Ballot
November 14
Points % Points %
JoeClark.jpg CLARK, Charles Joseph (Joe) 14,592 48.5% 23,321 77.5%
Hugh Segal (cropped).jpg SEGAL, Hugh 5,689 18.9% Endorsed Clark
ORCHARD, David 4,916 16.3% 6,779 22.5%
Brian Pallister 2014.jpg PALLISTER, Brian William 3,676 12.2% Endorsed Clark
Michael Fortier cropped.jpg FORTIER, Michael M. 1,227 4.1% Endorsed Clark
Total 30,100 100.0% 30,100 100.0%

1974 Canadian federal election - Ottawa Centre

1974 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Hugh Poulin 15,308 43.33 +4.81
Progressive Conservative Hugh Segal 12,138 34.36 -0.87
New Democratic Irving Greenberg 6,739 19.08 -6.04
Independent Bela Egyed 877 2.48
Social Credit John Graham 139 0.39 -0.26
Independent Ray Quann 63 0.18
Marxist–Leninist Phil Sarazen 62 0.18
Total valid votes 35,326 100.00

1972 Canadian federal election - Ottawa Centre

1972 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Hugh Poulin 14,101 38.52 -19.22
Progressive Conservative Hugh Segal 12,899 35.23 +1.01
New Democratic Irving Greenberg 9,195 25.12 +17.07
Social Credit Rocco Zavarella 237 0.65
Independent Paul Herman 177 0.48
Total valid votes 36,609 100.00


  1. ^ Delacourt, Susan (12 December 2013). "Senator Hugh Segal leaving Senate for Massey College post". Toronto Star. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  2. ^ Hugh Segal, The Long Road Back: Creating Canada's New Conservative Party (Harper Collins Canada, 2010), p. 7
  3. ^ "Tories oust Hugh Segal from key Senate post". The Star. Toronto. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  4. ^ Cobb, Chris (23 December 2011). "Tory senator Hugh Segal named special envoy to Commonwealth". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Hugh Segal: Governments can't ignore income security forever". Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  6. ^ Segal, Hugh (December 2012). "Scrapping Welfare". Literary Review of Canada. 20 (10). Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  7. ^ Segal, Hugh (17 May 2016). Two Freedoms. Dundurn Press. ISBN 9781459734456.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Archived 2012-05-26 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Hugh Segal, Tory senator, to retire for Massey College job". CBC News. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Nathalie des Rosiers Elected Principal of Massey College – Massey College".
  12. ^ "Governor General Announces 100 New Appointments to the Order of Canada as Canada Turns 150". The Governor General of Canada His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  13. ^ "SENATOR HUGH SEGAL – New Chairman, NATO Council of Canada".
  14. ^ "Peace Patron Dinner 2017 | Mosaic Institute".
  15. ^ "The 2016 Appointees to the Order of Ontario". 14 December 2016.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Senator from Ontario
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's Office
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
Principal of Massey College
Succeeded by
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy
Succeeded by