New CNE president aims to take fair to greater heights

Brian Ashton fondly remembers going to the CNE every year as a child.

“It was almost a sin not to go,” the former Scarborough city councillor said.

Brian Ashton (Courtesy Brian Ashton)

Now it’s his job to. Ashton is the new president of the Canadian National Exhibition Association.

“Brian will do an amazing job with the CNE,” said Ward 37 councillor Michael Thompson, a former city hall colleague. “I have no doubt that the CNE will be led by him in a professional and respectful way.

“[He will] respect the history of the CNE.”

Ashton faces the task of keeping the 133-year-old Toronto institution fresh for visitors and part of that, he said, is “embracing multiculturalism.”

The CNE association board is working to make the annual fair more accessible to Canadians and visitors to Canada.

“I want to put the ‘national’ back in Canadian National Exhibition,” said Ashton, a long-time board member.

A new board president is elected every two years, CNE marketing manager Karen Lynch said.