Fraser Institute head honcho Mark Mullins says he's leaving with a heavy heart

The executive director of the Fraser Institute is stepping down after four years on the job.

In a widely distributed e-mail, Mark Mullins wrote today (July 7)  that he was preparing to leave his position with a “heavy heart—but exceptional pride”.

Mullins succeeded the founder of the free-market think tank, economist Michael Walker, in 2005. Walker remains president of the Fraser

The  institute has attracted controversy over the years  for issuing report cards on public and private schools and for providing theoretical justification for right-wing fiscal policies.

Several years ago, federal tax officials conducted an investigation to determine if it violated its charitable status for engaging in partisan political activities. Walker rebuffed those efforts, and the institute is still permitted to issue tax receipts to its contributors, which enables them to collect tax credits.

Under Mullins, the institute opened new offices in Montreal and Ottawa to complement existing offices in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.

According to Fraser Institute spokesperson Dean Pelkey, a search is underway to find a new executive director.

Coincidentally, a former Fraser Institute director of fiscal studies, Jason Clemens, will be in Vancouver on July 9 to give a six-month review of Barack Obama’s performance as president. Clemens is now director of research and strategic development at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco.

Here's a copy of Mullins's e-mail:  

Dear Friend,
It is with a heavy heart-but exceptional pride-that I am writing to thank you for your ongoing interest in the Fraser Institute and our public policy ideas, as I prepare to leave the position of Executive Director. I have taken my vision for the Institute as far as it can go and it is time to pass the baton to new leadership here.
As I look back over my four years at the helm of this extraordinary organization, I am reminded of the tremendous successes we shared.
We expanded our role on the international stage through our economic freedom projects in Arab, Asian and Latin American countries, and raised the number of our global partnerships to 79 think tanks and similar organizations. We also opened virtual offices in the United States and developed hundreds of relevant research publications to populate our dedicated American web site at
Two new offices-in Montreal and Ottawa-opened doors to French language audiences, policymakers, and the national media, and completed the Institute's expansion to provide direct access to people in Canada's five largest cities. The Ottawa office also provided an opportunity to launch a very successful new education program for Parliament Hill elected representatives and their staff and allowed us to expand our annual Canada Strong and Free gala event.
We significantly increased our team of talented staff and subsequently our research, including publications on climate change, energy, corporate subsidies, petroleum investment barriers, social insurance fraud, mining, home schooling, tax compliance, psychiatric care waiting times, urban planning, Canada/US relations and hundreds more.
As one notable example, our new Ontario, B.C. and Alberta Hospital Report Cards, which measure patient safety and quality of care at the local hospital level, provoked tremendous public interest and tens of thousands of individuals have now visited the program's special website at
Our outreach was expanded through events and excursions, involving renowned speakers from around the world including Prime Minister John Howard, Fed Governor Ben Bernanke, and Lord Nigel Lawson. We reached and educated young journalists in a week-long annual program and this was bolstered by new media initiatives, including Fraser TV and our ever growing video program, which have so far attracted more than 75,000 viewers on Institute websites and on YouTube.
The Institute doubled our media attention and attained record levels of supporters, whose contributions enable us to do what matters most-conduct innovative, high quality research to impact the public debate leading to better public policy.
I feel privileged and honoured to have had the opportunity to work with the Institute's exceptional and dedicated staff on these activities and I know they will continue the work with their customary zeal. Their efforts have paid off spectacularly this year, with Foreign Policy magazine awarding us a top 10 ranking in the world out of 5,500 think tanks in existence. That is an incredible achievement for us all.
For those of you interested in following up with me, I can always be contacted at For my part, I will continue to track the on-going work of the Fraser Institute, Canada's truly exceptional think tank. Your interest in public policy ideas has been the very foundation of this organization and I hope you will continue to follow our research and participate in our programs in the years ahead.
With best regards,

Mark Mullins
Executive Director