Hugh Segal

Hugh Segal, OC OOnt (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]

Hugh Segal

5th Principal of Massey College
In office
July 1, 2014  June 30, 2019
Preceded byJohn Fraser
Succeeded byNathalie Des Rosiers
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
Prime MinisterBrian Mulroney
Preceded byNorman Spector
Succeeded byDavid McLaughlin
Personal details
Born (1950-10-13) October 13, 1950
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyConservative
Alma materUniversity of Ottawa

Life and career

Politics and public policy

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.


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

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 George 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]

Academic work

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

1998 Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leadership election

Points by ballot
Candidate First Ballot
October 24
Second Ballot
November 14
Points % Points %
CLARK, Charles Joseph (Joe) 14,592 48.5% 23,321 77.5%
SEGAL, Hugh 5,689 18.9% Endorsed Clark
ORCHARD, David 4,916 16.3% 6,779 22.5%
PALLISTER, Brian William 3,676 12.2% Endorsed Clark
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%±%
LiberalHugh Poulin15,30843.33+4.81
Progressive ConservativeHugh Segal12,13834.36-0.87
New DemocraticIrving Greenberg6,73919.08-6.04
IndependentBela Egyed8772.48
Social CreditJohn Graham1390.39-0.26
IndependentRay Quann630.18
Marxist–LeninistPhil Sarazen620.18
Total valid votes 35,326 100.00

1972 Canadian federal election - Ottawa Centre

1972 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalHugh Poulin14,10138.52-19.22
Progressive ConservativeHugh Segal12,89935.23+1.01
New DemocraticIrving Greenberg9,19525.12+17.07
Social CreditRocco Zavarella2370.65
IndependentPaul Herman1770.48
Total valid votes 36,609 100.00


  1. Delacourt, Susan (December 12, 2013). "Senator Hugh Segal leaving Senate for Massey College post". Toronto Star. Retrieved June 22, 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. February 21, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  4. Cobb, Chris (December 23, 2011). "Tory senator Hugh Segal named special envoy to Commonwealth". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved December 23, 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. "Two Freedoms". Dundurn Press.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-06-11.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. December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  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.
  15. "The 2016 Appointees to the Order of Ontario". December 14, 2016.
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Isobel Finnerty, Liberal
Senator from Ontario
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Norman Spector
Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister's Office
Succeeded by
David McLaughlin
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Fraser
Principal of Massey College
Succeeded by
Nathalie Des Rosiers
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Monique Jérôme-Forget
President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy
Succeeded by
Mel Cappe
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