I was born in London (UK), and grew up in Toronto, attending SEED school, a public ‘alternative’ school modelled on the principles of AS Neill’s Summerhill school in the UK. I attended the University of Toronto, where I completed a BAH and MA in Politics, specialising in Political Theory. With the funding of a Commonwealth Scholarship, I went to Oxford, where I completed my DPhil at Balliol College, under the supervision of Steven Lukes and Joseph Raz.
Whilst completing my doctorate, I took up a contract position as Lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of Leeds. I was then appointed to a permanent position in the Politics Department at Leiden University, but decided to return to Canada to take up a tenure-track job in the Politics Department at York, from which I took leave for a year as a visiting professor at the University of California in San Diego to join my partner, philosopher David Bakhurst. I left York (and UCSD) when we were both offered positions in the Philosophy Department at Queen’s in Kingston, where I was appointed a ‘Queen’s National Scholar’, attaining the rank of Professor in 2000. I’ve served as Head of Department since 2017. In 2000, I was included in the Canadian Who’s Who.
I’ve been engaged in political issues since I was a student. I served as President of the Political Economy Course Union and Editor of the campus paper, The Varsity, at the University of Toronto. And in Oxford, I helped found the Oxford Socialist Discussion Group. I continue to be committed to the relevance of political philosophy for public debate, contributing to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio show, The Philosophy Zone, CBC Radio’s Ideas, and the ‘Agora’ philosophy column in the British public affairs periodical, the New Statesman.
I’ve loved historic architecture since I was a child, something that was nourished during my time among the ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford and by the discovery of the work of the socialist aesthete, William Morris. I live in a 200-year-old house in Barriefield Village on the outskirts of Kingston, the first heritage district in Ontario, and I have been active in conservation battles in Kingston, serving as President of the Barriefield Village Association for many years. I coordinated the campaign to try and stop the closure of Kingston Collegiate, Ontario’s oldest high school, and I currently serve as the Chairperson of the Coalition of Kingston Communities, an umbrella organisation of 25 community groups that works to ensure accountability and transparency at City Hall.
Besides philosophy and my work in the community, I seek to live by Morris’s adage about finding beauty in everyday life. I treasure time with family – besides my partner, my two young adult children, elderly parents and two Siamese cats. I am an avid ‘open air’ swimmer, and when I can find the time, I like to sketch. My favourite mode of transport is provided by a big black Pashley bicycle, kitted out with wicker baskets for haulage.