By STEPHEN MAHER Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA — The Tories have appointed an outspoken Nova Scotian to spend a year in Ottawa as a visiting economist advising the federal Finance Department and were immediately attacked for it in the House of Commons.
Brian Lee Crowley will take a leave from his job as the president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a Halifax think-tank, to serve as the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist, participating in the budget and policy-making process.
The NDP wasted no time in attacking the appointment. Manitoba New Democrat Judy Wasylycia-Leis stood in the House and called Mr. Crowley “a radically extreme, right-wing individual who has the audacity to oppose such fundamental policies as pay equity for women.”
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis attacked Mr. Crowley for opposing employment insurance and equalization, for instance.
She said the appointment shows the true face of the Tories.
“Maybe it is a good thing, because then we really get to understand and see that despite all their attempts at trying to portray themselves as warm and fuzzy Conservatives, they are really hard-nosed, extreme right-wing reactionaries, and these kinds of appointment actually remind us what kind of battle we are in, what we are up against and how we always have to be vigilant.”
Mr. Crowley dismissed Ms. Wasylycia-Leis’s attack.
“She was a minister in the Manitoba government when I was policy analyst to the clerk of the executive council and NDP premier Howard Pawley,” he said in an e-mail. “She knows me better than that. It’s just politics. But if this is the best they can come up with, they must be having a slow day in the House.”
Mr. Crowley said he believes public debate should be on a higher level. “I don’t believe in this kind of personal attack and I have no desire to reply in kind,” he said. “I think I have achieved a reputation for solid, well-documented, thoughtful commentary on a wide range of public policy issues and I am always happy to engage on the substance, but never on the name-calling.”
The chairman of the institute’s board welcomed Mr. Crowley’s appointment.
“This is an incredible honour for Brian and recognition of all the critical and important work he has conducted over the past 12 years at AIMS,” David Mann said in a news release. “His appointment places him as one of the top economic minds in the country. It is an indication of the calibre of the work conducted by AIMS in its short history, establishing it as a leading public-policy think-tank.”
Charles Cirtwill will become acting president of the institute during Crowley’s absence.
Mr. Crowley is an occasional columnist for The Chronicle Herald.