New innovation deputy minister announced

Teresa Wright
Published on October 27, 2013
Innovation PEI

The Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning has a new deputy minister.

Neil Stewart was appointed to the position, effective Oct. 8, according to cabinet documents.

He has been acting deputy since last April after the former deputy minister of innovation, Melissa MacEachern, left the position amid concerns over $8 million in tourism contracts flagged by the auditor general as problematic.

Premier Robert Ghiz is currently out of the country, but a statement from his office confirmed the appointment.

“Mr. Stewart had been in an acting role as deputy minister since the spring of 2013, he has now been confirmed in the position,” a spokesman for the premier wrote to The Guardian.

“Mr. Stewart’s background is well suited for the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning.”

Stewart moves into this position after serving for several years in senior positions within the department.

Before this most recent appointment, Stewart was head of the province’s lending authority, Finance P.E.I., a post he held since 2012. He previously was CEO of Innovation P.E.I. and before that was director of corporate services for Island Investment Development Inc.

Stewart’s name has been raised numerous times in the legislature and in documents in relation to his work with the Provincial Nominee Program. Stewart was one of the directors of the program during the time period in which a number of rules were broken, as identified by then auditor general Colin Younker after his 2009 investigation.

As deputy minister, Stewart will make between $121,041 and $133,741 a year, according to the department’s 2013 budget estimates, tabled by Innovation Minister Allen Roach in the legislature last spring.

Cabinet documents say Stewart will have seniority as a deputy head dating from Nov. 15, 2011.