Macdonald–Laurier Institute – Wikipedia

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Canadian think tank

The Macdonald–Laurier Institute (MLI) is a conservative, libertarian think tank located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, affiliated with the global Atlas Network.[1][2] Its Managing Director is Brian Lee Crowley, who founded the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.[3]

Founded in 2010, the institute is named after John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, and Wilfrid Laurier, the country’s first French-Canadian prime minister.[4] MLI is a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency.[citation needed] The institute has a board of directors and an internal advisory board that select themes and submit its research for external review. The institute is funded by corporate and individual donors, as well as from private foundation funding.[5][6]

Its political stance has been described as market-oriented.[7] In August 2022, Russia designated the MLI as an “undesirable organisation”.[8]


Since its foundation in March 2010, MLI has produced papers offering its perspective on crime statistics, Indigenous post-secondary education, inter-provincial trade, and prison radicalisation. In addition, study series have been initiated in the areas of Canada’s founding ideas and the creation of a national security strategy for Canada such as the series on Aboriginal Canada and the Natural Resource Economy Series.[9] The institute also published a policy paper reviewing mortgage insurance in Canada. (See list of publications below.)

MLI also published its first book in May 2010. Titled The Canadian Century: Moving out of America’s Shadow, the book appeared on the best-seller lists of the Montreal Gazette.


In September 2020, MLI launced “DisinfoWatch,” a project to monitor and track disinformation in Canada and debunk misinformation, with a specific focus on the coronavirus pandemic.[10] The project is funded by the Macdonald–Laurier Institute, the United States Department of State’s Global Engagement Center, and Journalists for Human Rights.[11]

MLI contributors and staff have appeared in national and regional news media comment on a variety of national issues. The institute maintains a list of media information on its web site.[12] The institute’s Op-Eds have appeared in Canadian national newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and National Post, as well as in the Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Windsor Star, Moncton Times & Transcript, Halifax Chronicle-Herald. The institute has also been highlighted in Foreign Policy magazine,[13]The Wall Street Journal[14] and The Economist.

A multi-year MLI campaign defended oil and gas development rights on Indigenous land, according to a report in the Guardian. For several years it helped discourage Canada’s government from implementing a United Nations declaration on Indigenous peoples’ rights to reject pipelines or drilling, until Parliament eventually passed a law in 2021. The Guardian said the MLI campaign was in partnership with the Atlas Network, a libertarian-conservative group based in the United States, but MLI disputed the relationship.[15]

Political stance[edit]

Alejandro Chafuen, former president of the Atlas Network and current president of the Acton Institute, praised MLI in a 2012 Forbes article describing the market-oriented think tank landscape in Canada.[7] The social democratic Broadbent Institute referred to the MacDonald-Laurier Institute as a “right-wing charity” in a 2018 article[16] and MLI was described as similarly minded to the Fraser Institute in a 2012 article by the right-leaning National Post.[17] The Fraser Institute, like the Macdonald–Laurier Institute, are both part of the Atlas Network.[18]



Board of directors[edit]

  • Pierre Casgrain, Chair
  • Laura Jones, Vice-Chair
  • Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director
  • Vaughn MacLellan, Secretary
  • Martin MacKinnon, Treasurer
  • Blaine Favel, Director
  • Jayson Myers, Director
  • Dan Nowlan, Director
  • Vijay Sappani, Director
  • Veso Sobot, Director

Advisory Council 2019[edit]

  • John Beck, executive chairman of Aecon
  • Erin Chutter, executive chair of Global Energy Metals Corporation
  • Navjeet (Bob) Dhillon, President and CEO of Mainstreet Equity Corp.
  • Jim Dinning, former Alberta Treasurer
  • David Emerson, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Richard Fadden, Former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada
  • Robert Fulford OC, Former editor of Saturday Night magazine, columnist with the National Post
  • Brian Flemming, Lawyer
  • J. Wayne Gudbranson, CEO of Branham Group Inc.
  • Calvin Helin Aboriginal author and entrepreneur, Vancouver
  • Peter John Nicholson, former President of the Council of Canadian Academies
  • Jim Peterson, former Canadian Minister of International Trade & Partner at Fasken Martineau, Toronto
  • Jacquelyn Thayer Scott, past President and Professor, Cape Breton University
  • Barry Sookman, Senior Partner, McCarthy Tétrault
  • Rob Wildeboer, executive chairman and co-founder of Martinrea International Inc

Research advisory board[edit]

Books and publications[edit]


  • The Canadian Century: Moving Out of America’s Shadow, by Brian Lee Crowley, Jason Clemens and Neils Veldhuis, May 2010.
  • Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values, by Brian Lee Crowley.
  • The Economic Dependency Trap: Breaking Free To Self-Reliance, by MLI Advisory Council member Calvin Helin.

Study papers[edit]

National security strategy[edit]

  • To Stand On Guard, by Paul H. Chapin, November 29, 2010.

Pharmaceutical series[edit]

  • Pills, Patents & Profits, by Brian Ferguson, March 25, 2011.

Canada’s founding ideas[edit]

  • Confederation and Individual Liberty, by Janet Ajzenstat, November 10, 2010.

Policy briefings[edit]

  • Mortgage Insurance in Canada, by Jane Londerville, November 18, 2010.


  1. ^ “How a conservative US network undermined Indigenous energy rights in Canada”. the Guardian. 2022-07-18. Retrieved 2022-12-07.
  2. ^ “Who we are”. Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  3. ^ “Brian Lee Crowley”. Retrieved 2022-12-07.
  4. ^ “Welcome to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute”. Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Retrieved 2022-12-07.
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ “Support Us”. Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Retrieved 2022-12-07.
  7. ^ a b Chafuen, Alejandro (6 August 2013). “We See Thee Rise: Canada’s Emerging Role In Policy Leadership”. Forbes. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  8. ^ “Российский Минюст объявил “нежелательными” три канадских организации. Две из них связаны с Украиной”. Meduza (in Russian). 2022-08-19. Retrieved 2022-09-01.
  9. ^ a b Crowley, Brian Lee; Coates, Ken (30 May 2013). The Way Out: New thinking about Aboriginal engagement and energy infrastructure to the West Coast (PDF) (Report). Aboriginal Canada and the Natural Resource Economy Series. Macdonald–Laurier Institute. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 September 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  10. ^ “MLI Launches DisinfoWatch project led by Marcus Kolga | MLI”. Macdonald-Laurier Institute. 2020-09-24. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  11. ^ Chase, Steven (February 28, 2021). “Canada among targets of Twitter accounts shut down for links to Kremlin and proxies”. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  12. ^ See “Media” on MLI web site Archived 2010-12-21 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ See Foreign Policy magazine, June 25, 2010 Archived May 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, “The Canadian Century”, Crowley, Clemens, and Veldhuis
  14. ^ See Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2010 Archived September 22, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, “Emerging from the Shadow”, Phred Dvorak
  15. ^ Dembicki, Geoff (2022-07-18). “How a conservative US network undermined Indigenous energy rights in Canada”. the Guardian. Retrieved 2022-11-05.
  16. ^ “Right-wing charities report zero political activity…again”. 14 May 2018. Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  17. ^ Carlson, Kathryn Blaze (6 May 2012). “Thinking outside the tank: The Fraser Institute is embracing the competition its success helped inspire”. National Post. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  18. ^ Ronnie (2021-02-24). “DisinfoWatch: Ties To Atlas Network, Connected To LPC Political Operatives”. Canuck Law. Retrieved 2022-12-07.
  19. ^ From the MLI web site Archived 2010-12-21 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]