NCC taps Ottawa councillor Tobi Nussbaum as next CEO

After days of swirling speculation about his political future, Tobi Nussbaum has confirmed he’ll be vacating his job as a city councillor to become the next chief executive of the National Capital Commission.

Nussbaum, who represents Rideau-Rockcliffe ward and was re-elected to a new four-year term in October, will replace outgoing CEO Mark Kristmanson, whose term ends in the spring.

The veteran politician announced his appointment in a statement on Thursday night, saying he’ll start his new job on Feb. 4.

Nussbaum called serving the residents of his ward “the greatest privilege of his professional life,” adding he is prepared to work with Mayor Jim Watson and his council colleagues “to develop a smooth transition plan to ensure both uninterrupted service to residents, as well as their effective representation at City Hall.”

Tobi
The next CEO of the NCC, Tobi Nussbaum. City of Ottawa photo.

In a statement, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez praised Nussbaum for his decades of service to his country and city.

“As Canadians, we are very proud of our capital and appreciate the important role the NCC plays in helping shape the region as a world-class destination,” Rodriguez said. “I am confident that Mr. Nussbaum shares that passion, and will work diligently to ensure that the National Capital Region remains a livable, vibrant city for residents and continues to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world.”

A former diplomat who holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard, Nussbaum moved to Ottawa to join the Canadian foreign service in 1996. He held various senior positions at the Department of Global Affairs and the Privy Council Office before first winning a seat on council in 2014. Nussbaum was re-elected in October, garnering 82 per cent of the vote.

In accepting a four-year term to head the NCC, Nussbaum might be tackling his biggest professional challenge yet as the Crown corporation grapples with how to revive the $4-billion LeBreton Flats redevelopment plan that appeared to collapse after Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk sued his partners in the project.  

Watson tweeted congratulations to his council colleague Thursday night, wishing him “the best of luck” and saying he looks forward to working with Nussbaum “to deliver on city-building initiatives” such as LeBreton Flats.

Once Nussbaum resigns his seat at City Hall in the new year, council will have two options ​– to appoint a successor or, more likely, hold a byelection, which could cost as much as $500,000.

Nussbaum’s appointment wasn’t the only big news coming out of the NCC this week. On Wednesday, the federal ethics commissioner said current CEO Kristmanson violated conflict-of-interest rules for accepting invitations to events from organizations with official business ties to the commission.