Liam McHugh-Russell (2009 - 2010)


Liam  McHugh-Russell

Liam's primary research interest is in crafting progressive policy responsive to the sociological, economic and legal realities of globalization.  He co-organized two national student conferences on the opportunities and boundaries of law as a tool of progressive social change, and has twice been a New Democratic Party candidate for Member of Parliament.

While earning his degree in Pure and Applied Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, Liam’s participation in the student union culminated in his election to a full-time executive position. His leadership speaking out for progressive post-secondary education policy led to his representing a national student union in a meeting with the Prime Minister, and to his Ministerial appointment to the province-wide student loan appeals board. An active participant in campus life, he was also an activist against the war in Iraq, in support of the women’s centre, and in defence of the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group.

Deciding to turn his dedication to social justice into a professional calling, Liam attended law school at the University of Toronto. While there, he contributed to a legal opinion on the rights of non-status immigrants presented to the Toronto Police Board (in cooperation with No One is Illegal); to a report commissioned by CIDA on access to generic AIDS medicines; and to recommendations to a parliamentary roundtable on corporate social responsibility in the mining sector. He successfully represented clients in criminal trials and civil negotiations at the low-income clinic; co-organized two national student conferences on the opportunities and boundaries of law as a tool of progressive social change; and wrote opinion pieces for the faculty paper. He was also a cofounder of the Omar Khadr Project. He completed his articles of clerkship at a top-rated labour and employment law firm and is now a member of the bar of Ontario.

Since 2004, Liam has been an active member of Canada’s New Democratic Party. As Treasurer, and then Co-Chair, of the Ontario New Democratic Youth, he organized the annual conference in both Ottawa and London, Ontario. He has sat on both the executive of his riding association and on provincial council, and has campaigned for dozens of local candidates. During his first year of law school, Liam won a close race to earn the nomination as the party’s candidate against star Liberal candidate Michael Ignatieff in the 2006 federal election. While completing his articles, he was also the candidate in the 2008 election, appearing on national television as the party’s representative at a forum on sports policy.

Liam’s legal studies focused on international law, human rights and labour regulation. His ongoing research interest is in crafting progressive policy responses to the sociological, economic and legal realities of globalization, especially through labour law. To that end, he spent a summer interning with a former legal adviser at the International Labour Organization (ILO), and studied European and international approaches to these issues while on exchange at Budapest’s Central European University. His focus has many parallels with those of his Academic Mentor, William Dawson Scholar and Professor Adelle Blackett, who is a former official of the International Labour Organization (ILO). As a Sauvé Scholar, Liam’s primary project was the completion of a book for publication on the ILO’s efforts to eradicate forced labour in Myanmar.

Liam is an avid cinephile, continues to work on improving his French, and can order any number of coffees in Hungarian.


In November 2011, Liam joined the Board of Directors of the Sauvé Scholars Foundation, where he now strives to represent Program alumni in the Foundation's governance.

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“Leaders must dream of changing the world.

They must have an inspired vision of the changes they want to make and be prepared to consecrate all
their energy to that purpose. A capacity to communicate their objectives is indispensable to sustain
the enthusiasm of their collaborators and their perseverance in action.”
— The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé, Opening Speech to the National Conference for Young Leaders, June 2-8, 1991