Nova Scotia

Head of new N.S. Crown corporation resigns 2 weeks after appointment

In a statement, Premier Tim Houston said he "reluctantly accepted" the resignation Wednesday of Tom Hickey, someone he has described as a longtime personal friend.

Premier Tim Houston named Tom Hickey as executive chair of Invest Nova Scotia on July 26

From left: Premier Tim Houston, Economic Development Minister Susan Corkum-Greek, Public Works Minister Kim Masland and Internal Services Minister Colton LeBlanc announce the streamlining of five Crown corporations at a news conference in Halifax on July 26, 2022. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

The executive chair of Invest Nova Scotia has resigned just two weeks after Premier Tim Houston announced his appointment to help shepherd the creation of the new economic development Crown corporation.

In a statement, Houston said he "reluctantly accepted" the resignation Wednesday of Tom Hickey, someone he has described as a longtime personal friend.

"Public service, in all of its forms, requires great sacrifice from those who take on the challenge, and I appreciate Mr. Hickey's candour in assessing his capacity to make the sacrifices necessary to provide the level of attention that Invest Nova Scotia requires," said Houston.

In an interview with CBC on Wednesday, Economic Development Minister Susan Corkum-Greek said Hickey's decision was based on reevaluating his own business dealings and "a particular acquisition that he is finalizing right now."

"He ultimately realized that he did not have the time to give to the work that's needed," she said.

Economic Development Minister Susan Corkum-Greek will now oversee finding a new leader for Invest Nova Scotia. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Although she's disappointed, Corkum-Greek said she respects the decision. The minister said the few weeks she worked with Hickey confirmed to her that he had the qualities necessary for the job.

Houston announced late last month that Hickey, an entrepreneur and business owner with more than two decades of experience, would take on the role of executive chair of Invest Nova Scotia until a full-time CEO was appointed.

Corkum-Greek said that search continues and, in the meantime, she and senior officials in her department will lead the transition.

"Though this wasn't the original, you know, path that was envisioned, I am fully taking this on and engaging with this. I know how important this is in terms of our government's vision for economic development [and] our commitments to Nova Scotians."

Streamlined Crown corporations

The new Crown corporation is being created by consolidating Innovacorp, Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the Invest Nova Scotia Fund as part of the government's efforts to streamline its approach to economic development in the province. It, along with Build Nova Scotia, will be finalized following the passage of legislation expected to be introduced during the upcoming fall sitting at Province House.

The appointment of Wayne Crawley as executive chair of Build Nova Scotia, which will replace Nova Scotia Lands and Develop Nova Scotia, was announced at the same time. 

Houston said he identified Crawley and Hickey from a short list of candidates. Each was expected to be paid $1,500 a day, up to $18,000 a month, for their work.

"They're personal friends of mine," Houston said on July 26. "I've known them for a long time. They've very, very competent people and I have tremendous faith in their abilities."

Corkum-Greek said Hickey has indicated he will not be invoicing the province for any work he did before resigning.

"This was never about the money for a person like Mr. Hickey," she said.

"The fact that he's now saying, 'Look, we're square. No payment is needed,' that is consistent with Tom's engagement all along, which has really been: What can I do for my province?"

Hickey could not be reached for comment.

With files from Michael Gorman