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Brian Lee Crowley

Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Political and Economic Commentator

Brian Lee Crowley is a serial think tank entrepreneur and national thought leader. He is the founder of the only independent national think tank in Ottawa, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), recently ranked one of the top three new think tanks in the world. Brian is one of the country’s most sought-after public speakers, a columnist in both the Globe and Ottawa Citizen, a best-selling and award-winning author, an advisor to governments, industry and international organisations and  frequent commentator across all media. His passion is to make Canada the best governed country in the world.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Fixing Canadian Health Care
As one of the leading health care thinkers in the country, Brian walks his audience through the key drivers of health care reform in the 21st century, and concludes that a reformed Canadian health care system will be vastly different from the status quo, as well as from what is going on in the United States.

Canada and its First Nations: A strategy for national reconciliation
Few issues trouble Canadians as much as relations with Aboriginal peoples, and few issues seem so intractable. As a result of Brian’s work with Aboriginal leaders, industry and governments, however, he is an optimist that a new deal with Aboriginal peoples is not only possible, its outlines can already be glimpsed in the new deals over resource development being struck across the country.

Making Canada a world leader in environmental protection
Brian lays out a compelling case why the supposed conflict between economic growth and environmental protection is a false one. Instead, by understanding the contribution that growth makes to environmental sustainability, Canadians will be able to see that they can lead the world in balancing the needs of a natural resource economy and every Canadian’s wish to live in an environmentally responsible way.

The secrets of Canada’s economic success
Canada is incredibly blessed with an incomparable natural resource endowment. That natural wealth, though, does not explain our success, for many other countries have natural resources but live in poverty and dysfunction. Canada’s great success lies in the marriage of resources and well-functioning institutions. Brian explains why there is no conflict between manufacturing and resources, why natural resources are a powerful explanation of Canada’s success, but also why that success is challenged by the undermining of the certainty our institutions used to confer: well understood and accepted approval process, the rule of law, clear ownership of resources. Canada can continue to enjoy prosperity, but only if it takes orderly and thoughtful steps to re-establish the success of our courts, our politics and our bureaucracy.


Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal "in recognition of your contributions to Canada" (2012)
Atlas Economic Research Foundation | Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize for excellence in think tank publications (2000, 2003, 2012)
The Hill Times | 100 Most Influential People in Ottawa (multiple years)
Globe and Mail | Top Ten Non-Fiction author (2010)
Canada 125 Commemorative Medal for "significant contribution to Canada" (1992)
  • He uses vivid and compelling examples to make his points and has a clarity of thinking that is the mark of a world-class speaker. I never cease to be impressed by Brian’s ability to focus his talks to relate to his audiences, whether it is a small meeting of high-level officials or a large audience of people with varying interests and expertise.

    - President, Galen Institute
  • Brian is a talented speaker who I would recommend to anyone who is interested in better understanding the public policy, economic and demographic dynamics that will affect Canada going forward. He has the unusual ability to see big picture forces at play and explain them in simple, compelling language.

    - Executive Vice-President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • He weaved together four key drivers of healthcare reform in the 21st century in a way that had the plenary – packed with knowledgeable health policy wonks – on the edge of their seats.

    - Co-founder, 3Sixty Public Affairs Inc.
  • He was down to earth, extremely informative, and gave practical information that was helpful to our audience. Plus, he was funny—something you don’t always find in an economist.

    - Editor-in-Chief, SVP, Professional Development, Advertising Specialty Institute

Summary Profile

Whether as the founder of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), Ottawa’s only independent and non-partisan national public policy think tank; the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist at Finance Canada; the founder of the country’s leading regional think tank, the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies (AIMS); or as a member of the Editorial Board of the Globe and Mail, Brian has always pursued one vision consistently and relentlessly: to make Canada the best governed country in the world.

Today he is one of the country’s most sought-after public speakers and thought leaders, a columnist in both the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen, a best-selling and award-winning author, an advisor to governments, industry and international organisations and a public intellectual and frequent media commentator across all media.

MLI was recently ranked one of the top three new public policy think tanks in the world, and its work has had a direct influence on a wide array of decisions coming out of Ottawa. Brian has also developed an enviable reputation as a demanding and creative leader of public policy conversations, including for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, for whom he frequently chairs both pre-budget consultation rountables and summer retreats with some of Canada’s leading economic influencers.

He enthralls audiences across the country with talks on the issues that matter to Canadians like economic prosperity, relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, Canada-US relations, the natural resource economy, the future of health care, the global agricultural revolution, technology and social change, the impact of an ageing population and Canada’s proud history and political tradition.