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Hugh Segal

Incumbent
Assumed office 
August 2, 2005
Appointed by Paul Martin

Born October 13, 1950 (1950-10-13) (age 59)
Political party Conservative

Hugh Segal, CM (born October 13, 1950) is a Canadian senator, political strategist, author, and commentator. Segal is credited with helping Stephen Harper become Prime Minister by moderating his image.

Life and career

Segal finished second to Joe Clark in the 1998 Progressive Conservative leadership election. He had also briefly considered running for the leadership in 1993, while serving as chief of staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Segal's political career dates back decades. He was inspired by a visit by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to his Montreal High School the early 1960s. Segal is a graduate of the University of Ottawa. He was an aide to federal Progressive Conservative Leader of the Opposition Robert Stanfield in the early 1970s, while still a university student. At age 21, he was an unsuccessful candidate in Ottawa Centre for the Canadian House of Commons 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 was named Deputy Minister at age 29. In the 1980s and 1990s, Segal became well known for his wit and exuberance as a television pundit. Segal also wrote books and newspaper columns and taught at the School of Policy Studies and the School of Business at Queen's University in Kingston. He served as President of The Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal think tank, from 1999 to 2006. In the private sector, Segal has been an executive in the advertising, brewing, and financial services industries.

Segal espouses a moderate brand of conservatism that has little in common with British Thatcherism or U.S. Neo-Conservatism. He is a Red Tory in the tradition of Benjamin Disraeli and Sir John A. Macdonald. 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.

In 2003, Segal was made a Member of the Order of Canada. He was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 2005 by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin. Segal holds an honorary doctorate from of the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Kingston, Ontario, and is a faculty member in Queen's University's School of Policy Studies. Segal's most recent book is The Long Road Back: The Conservative Journey, 1993-2006 (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2006).

Segal was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee until he "reluctantly" agreed to resign on the request of the government who 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.[1]

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

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Preceded by
Isobel Finnerty, Liberal
Senator from Ontario
2005–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
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