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Toronto Political Science Professor Died
Within the Canadian political science community, Peter Russell was a well-liked and respected person. He discussed a national political problem on The Agenda and was a brilliant, interesting, impassioned, and terrifying guest. At the top ranks of Canadian politics as well as at the University of Toronto, Russell was a legend. He passed away earlier this week at the age of 91 from a crippling lung ailment, but not before leaving behind a remarkable legacy of political counsel to leaders and a passion for politics and history in his students, one of whom is Canada’s current envoy to the UN.
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Russell owes a great deal to one of his former students, David Lametti, for his many years of friendship and mentoring. Lametti went on to become attorney general and minister of justice in Justin Trudeau’s administration from 2019 to 2023. He even gave Lametti a reference letter and encouraged him to pursue his first legal degree in Canada, which completely changed Lametti’s life. After leaving the University of Toronto to work at McGill Law, Yale, and Oxford, Lametti eventually became an MP in 2015. Former Ontario premier Bob Rae, who owes Russell a great deal for his friendship and wisdom over many years, also depended on his advice. Russell was a member of Premier David Peterson’s advisory group during the Meech Lake Accord discussions in the late 1980s.
They shared a similar perspective on Quebec and were somewhat in agreement on life and politics. Between 2006-2012, when Russell was chancellor of U of T, Peter also spent time with him. John Parker, a former York East MPP and Toronto city councillor was aware of another aspect of Russell, as he would converse about politics and offer support. Parker wrote in an email, “Peter was respected in the highest circles of academia.”