Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Tourism Agency head moving to Ontario, but keeping job

The man handed the top job at the board of the newly-created Nova Scotia Tourism Agency is moving with his family to Ontario, but he doesn't think that's a problem for the agency.

Ben Cowan-Dewar is chair of board, and co-founder of Cabot Links

Ben Cowan-Dewar, the owner of the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses in Inverness, is also the head of the board of the newly-created Nova Scotia Tourism Agency. (www.golfconversations.com)

The man handed the top job at the board of the newly-created Nova Scotia Tourism Agency is moving with his family to Ontario, but he doesn't think that's a problem for the agency.

"As you appreciate in my role as chair, we don't oversee the day to day," said Ben Cowan-Dewar.

"That's the team of employees that run the organization who do all the heavy lifting and do a great job. The board provides oversight and strategic direction. We meet every month or two and I'll continue to attend those meetings and chair them."

Cowan said he'll pay his own travel expenses.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, who first learned of the move from CBC News, defended his choice for chair of the board.

"When he was appointed to the board, he was a resident here in the province," said McNeil.

"He owns property here in the province. He has made substantial investment in this province — personal investment. He's brought in substantial external investments into this province. Those are good things but we'll certainly have a conversation about where his permanent residency is."

Cowan-Dewar is the owner of the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses in Inverness.

'I think we should focus on competency'

Darlene Grant Fiander, the president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, said the work Cowan-Dewar has done in the province should speak for itself. (CBC)

Darlene Grant Fiander, the president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, said the work Cowan-Dewar has done in the province should speak for itself.

"I think we should focus on competency and what people are bringing to the table at this point," she told CBC News on Friday.

"I don't think it matters where he lives. I wouldn't want to say that everybody on that board should live outside of Nova Scotia — it's really important — but he's certainly been in Nova Scotia for long periods of time, he has a lot of investment in Nova Scotia.

"A lot of people work in other places and have homes here. So, not sure it's an issue."

Maureen MacDonald, the interim leader of the New Democratic Party, says Cowan-Dewar should resign.

"We don't have Nova Scotians heading up agencies, boards and commissions for the Ontario government and for the people of Ontario," she said.

"This is the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency and I'm sure we have capable, qualified people who could head up that agency for our own province."

The governing Liberals created the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency as the arm's-length organization to promote tourism on behalf of the province. It is made up of businessowners from across the province.

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