[Halifax] Brian Lee Crowley, the founding president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, is returning to head the public policy think-tank as of July 1.

Dr. Crowley left the post two years ago to join the editorial board of The Globe and Mail.

Purdy Crawford, the Chairman of AIMS, said Dr. Crowley’s return was confirmed at a meeting of the Board of Directors late last week.

“We’re delighted to have Brian back,” Mr. Crawford said. “He made a tremendously important contribution to public policy discussion during AIMS’ first 3 ½ years, and I know that he is brimming with ideas about where to take the Institute from here.”

For the past two years, the presidency has been filled by Don Cayo, who accepted the post in July of 1997 for a two-year term. Mr. Cayo is returning to fulltime journalism.

“When Brian and I first talked about the job,” Mr. Cayo said, “he was looking at taking a two-year leave of absence. I was reluctant to leave my first love, journalism, for any longer than that. So the two-year term has worked well for both of us.”

AIMS has had a considerable impact on the policy debate in the region, perhaps most notably with Looking the Gift Horse in the Mouth, a study of transfer dependency written by the Institute’s Senior Policy Analyst, Fred McMahon, and published not long before Dr. Crowley departed. Mr. McMahon is currently putting the finishing touches on a new book that will build on the thesis of Gift Horse, which argued that private initiative can build the regional economy much more surely than government intervention.

“I spent a lot of time talking about the ideas in Gift Horse, even though it was published under Brian’s watch,” said Mr. Cayo. “The fact that he’ll be the one helping to introduce the ideas in Fred’s second book, which was written during my term, appeals to my sense of continuity.”

Dr. Crowley will also inherit some other projects well under way – a paper on offshore oil and gas by economist Ralph Winter, a book on how to streamline government regulation by writer and consultant Brian Flemming, and more.

He has also identified several other priority areas to study, among them perversities in the federal equalization system, further studies of various unfolding oil and gas issues, and the evolving fiscal position of the region’s four provincial governments.

“This is a wonderful time to be coming back to AIMS because the region’s growth prospects are the best they’ve been in years,” Dr. Crowley noted. “But unless we get public policy right in a number of areas, that potential may well never be realized.

“That’s where AIMS will be putting its efforts in the next few years, building on the Institute’s excellent work under Don Cayo’s leadership.”

Prior to forming AIMS, Dr. Crowley was president of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC), and before that he taught politics, economics and philosophy at Dalhousie University. He has also acted as Secretary to the Nova Scotia Working Committee on the Constitution (the Kierans Committee), Constitutional Advisor to the government of Nova Scotia in the negotiations resulting in the Charlottetown Accord and to the Manitoba government on Meech Lake. He had served as a diplomat for the EEC Commission, an aid administrator for the UN in Africa and an advisor to the Quebec government on parliamentary and electoral reform. He holds degrees from McGill and the London School of Economics, including a doctorate in political economy from the latter.