Tsawwassen's Niels Veldhuis has been appointed president of the Fraser Institute.
The public policy thinktank announced earlier this month that Veldhuis, formerly the Fraser Institute's vice-president of Canadian policy research, would now oversee all aspects of the operation.
A South Delta Secondary grad in 1994, Veldhuis joined the institute in 2002 and has served as its senior economist and director of fiscal studies.
"I think the role the insti-tute plays is that it asks the difficult questions that a lot of other people and a lot of other institutions aren't willing to ask," Veldhuis told the Optimist last week,
"We let the answer be guided by the data and the empirical evidence, so I see the institute as being absolutely critical in terms of educating Canadians, both about the impacts of government intervention and competitive markets, and about how we find better solutions for the things that we care about: health care, our prosperity in general, education and all the things that families care about."
Veldhuis holds a master's degree in economics from Simon Fraser University and is the author or coauthor of six books on economic and public policy. He has written more than 250 articles and been interviewed by numerous media outlets.
The Fraser Institute noted Veldhuis also regularly appears before both House of Commons and Senate committees as an expert witness on economic public policy. In 2011, he led a discussion between former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the Surrey Economic Forum.
Veldhuis, who taught at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, said the "right wing think tank" label given to the Fraser Institute by some only serves a purpose for those unwilling to talk about ideas and debate the issues.
"That's what I focus on. I don't focus too much on what people call us. There's certain people who will call you names because they don't really want to talk about the issues... what we can keep doing is coming back to what I think is important to Canadians, and that's how do we improve our lives."
A registered non-profit organization formed in 1974, the institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with active research ties with similar independent organizations in more than 75 countries around the world. It says it measures and studies the impact of markets and government interventions on the welfare of individuals.
The institute has drawn criticism by some, including teachers who dismiss its annual ranking of B.C. schools.
The institute has also drawn ire over its critical assessment of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Veldhuis said the ALR hasn't achieved its original objectives and it's time to review ALR policy.
Veldhuis is one of the most preeminent economists and trusted policy analysts in Canada, said Peter Brown, chairman of the Fraser Institute board.