NCC gets new CEO, Baird dismisses call for mayors to sit on board

The NCC is getting a new leader, but the federal minister responsible for the Crown Corporation suggests that's the only change on the horizon.

Ottawa-West Nepean MP John Baird welcomed Dr. Mark Kristmanson as the new CEO at a news conference on Monday morning.

Kristmanson has a decade of experience with the NCC, and has been involved in Winterlude and Canada Day celebration planning.

"The National Capital Commission has a long, proud and accomplished history and I'm truly honoured to carry forward that legacy," he said.

Baird was asked repeatedly about whether the federal government would relent and change the makeup of the NCC board, in order to allow the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau to have a seat.

"If the NCC was abolished today, either city would still have to work with the federal government on land that it owns," he argued, insisting that he isn't interested in a political battle and all parties have worked fine in the past.

While Mayors Jim Watson and Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin have criticized the NCC for meddling or obstruction when it comes to certain projects, Baird doesn't see it that way.

"I know Mark and everyone at the NCC have, literally, in recent years, have passed hundreds of things that both cities need. From time to time, there's an honest difference of opinion and reasonable people can disagree, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Baird also insisted he is proud of the NCC which has been a "fundamental force in ensuring the stewardship of the nation's capital," seemingly another dismissal to the suggestion that the city council leaders should be part of the decision-making body.

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