Hugh Segal, a distinguished fellow at the Queen’s School of Policy Studies and former Conservative senator, passed away on Aug. 9 in Kingston at the age of 72.
Queen’s appointed Segal to the Donald Matthews Faculty Fellowship in Global Public Policy to teach and research public policy in 2019. During his tenure, Segal was a professor of public policy and director of the Public Executive Program at the Smith School of Business. He served as Chair of the School of Policy Studies Advisory Board and was Director of the Centre for International and Defence Policy.
Queen’s students and faculty are paying tribute to Segal, reflecting on his passion for public service.
One of Segal’s former students, Aleem Punja, MPA ‘24 first crossed paths with Segal during his Master of Public Administration at Queen’s, but closely followed his political career before their encounter.
Punja was inspired by Segal’s commitment to providing Canadians with guaranteed basic income when he helped launch the Ontario Basic Income Pilot in 2016. The project enrolled over 4,000 low-income people and couples to receive monthly payments amounting to $16,989 for individuals and $24,027 for couples annually.
The project was later shut down by Ontario Premier Doug Ford in 2018.
“It was a piece of incredibly innovative work,” Punja said in an interview with The Journal. “Someone who was a conservative policy person brought this project to the table and saw how important it was to give people a basic income that actually uplifted them.”
Segal’s 50-year career in politics began in 1972, when he got involved with the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PC) as the MP candidate in the Ottawa Centre riding for the general election. Segal served as Chief of Staff to Ontario Premier Bill Davis and subsequently Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Known for his ability to work across party lines, Segal was appointed to Canada’s Senate by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2005, despite being a longtime Conservative.
“One thing he did in the best way is work across party lines,” Punja added. “Segal’s work centered around the people that would be impacted based on policy decisions that were made.”
Ron Tite, a former colleague of Segal’s at Smith, admired Segal’s commitment to prioritizing the well-being of Canadians.
“He was incredibly principled—and not just [focused] on a specific business or a specific discipline—but more on the state and the future of the entire country,” Tite said in an interview with The Journal.
Segal became an Officer of the Order of Canada for enriching and improving the lives of all Canadian citizens in 2016.
Tite says he will forever be inspired by Segal’s dedication to Canada and will always remember his laughter and smile.
“I can still hear his laugh. His smile was as wide as the room,” Tite said. “His intellect and wit will be greatly missed by the country.”
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