While Huntley was born in the United States, he was raised along with his sister Suzy in a warm and loving home in Regina, Saskatchewan where his parents John and Joanne had moved when he was a young boy so that John could take up teaching responsibilities at the University of Regina College of Education. His parents were Quakers, and supporters of peace and social justice. In high school, Huntley became involved in student activities concerning student rights, and social causes including the growing human rights movement. His belief in greater equality of opportunity and the role government could play attracted him to the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party in his mid-teens in the early 1970s and he remained active until he left the province to pursue higher education.
Huntley began his university career at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and studied for one or two years there in the mid-1970s. His lifelong commitment to social justice and human rights led him to take time away from university studies to work full-time for the Saskatchewan Association on Human Rights as its Executive Director, and as provincial manager for the Canadian Mental Health Association, each for about a year in the latter half of the 1970s. As well, during these years he worked for brief periods of time for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, including research in support of its policies opposing uranium mining and nuclear development. All the while he remained involved in political activities and served as President of the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats for two years in the late 1970s. He went on to pursue studies in economics at McGill and MIT, obtaining his Ph.D. in economics from MIT and pursuing a distinguished career as a Carleton University faculty member, visiting scholar, and contributor to the body of economic knowledge and discussion through many articles and contributions to books.
He enjoyed life fully with many friends, athletic pursuits, academic accomplishments, political discussions and activities, and a lifelong love of good food. He worked to maintain friendships, both long-term and new. While his life was all too short and more time would have led to more accomplishments, his enjoyment of life was abundant and his life very well lived.