For more than four decades, Hugh Segal has been one of the leading voices of progressive conservatism in Canada. A self-described Red Tory warrior who disdains “bootstrap” approaches to poverty, he has worked tirelessly to bring about policies that support the most economically vulnerable in society. Central to his life’s work has been the championing of a basic annual income for all Canadians.
Why would a lifelong Tory support something so radical? In this revealing memoir, Segal shares how his life and experiences brought him to this most unlikely of places. He recalls a childhood growing up in a poor immigrant family in working-class Montreal and how the events during his formative years made him aware of the blighting effects of poverty. He also recollects how connections with people like his grandfather Ben Segal, a Russian immigrant and union organizer, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, and folksinger Joan Baez shaped his worldview.
Inspired by Diefenbaker’s visit to his school in 1962, Segal worked his way up through the ranks of the Conservative Party, where he served as a senior aide to Premier Bill Davis and as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s chief of staff, even making a bid to become leader of the party. Along the way, he worked across party lines to promote an anti-poverty agenda, most recently as an advisor on a basic income pilot project for the Ontario Liberal government. This book is a passionate argument not only for why a basic annual income makes economic sense, but for why it is the right thing to do.
This book is must-read for those who want to find better ways of reducing poverty’s serious effects on people, families, and communities. Readers will be drawn to the author’s passionate, often confessional, narrative about his life-long commitment to poverty abatement and the importance of not looking away from those in need.