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Cirtwill believes ‘fresh face’ helped him snag Northern Policy Institute gig

Charles Cirtwill says not being from Northern Ontario probably helped him to land the Northern Policy Institute’s top job.

Charles Cirtwill says not being from Northern Ontario probably helped him to land the Northern Policy Institute’s top job.

Halifax-based Cirtwill has been named president and CEO of the regional think tank, a key of the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. The official announcement is expected to take place Friday.

Cirtwill presently heads the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and will be moving to the city along with his wife and three children.

“It’s kind of exciting,” he said during a phone interview with tbnewswatch.com.

“I have to admire the courage of the Ontario provincial government to set up a think tank as part of a process to encourage sustainable development. I think it is an interesting approach. I was hired for my experience in running a think tank.

“I suspect that one of things that worked in my favour is that I don’t have any northern baggage. No one in particular is annoyed at me right now so I can make my own enemies as I go along. I think there’s an added value of having a fresh face.”

The Northern Ontario Policy Institute is an independent, not-for-profit organization designed to monitor the implementation of the plan and help make provincial policy recommendations to the province.

Lakehead University president Brian Stevenson and Laurentian University president Dominic Giroux have overseen the institute.

Cirtwill said he’s been at the Atlantic Institute for the past 12 years but has also done fundraising, research and has contacts across the country and internationally.

“People are expecting NPI to say ‘this is the industry for this town, this is the industry for that town’ and that’s not really what NPI’s mandate is going to be,” he said.

“My job coming in is to build on all the research and the ideas that are already there in the North, draw them together into a single place and encourage people to discuss and explore which ones work and which ones don’t. I’m not just going to stroll in and say ‘mining is going to solve every problem that we’re going to have’.

“The idea of a think tank is to encourage people to have informed discourse and then to go forward collectively in what we feel is the best way.”

While Cirtwill will be traveling between Halifax and Thunder Bay for some time, he added that he will be officially moved in by September.