Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney
Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE
OTTAWA - Outgoing Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has enjoyed an exalted reputation, but a recent media report that sheds light on his being courted by the Liberal party raises the question of whether he broke any conflict of interest rules while acting as a public servant.
According to the Globe and Mail, during a months-long period over which the Liberals attempted to woo Carney to run for the leadership, he spent a week-long vacation at the residence of Liberal MP Scott Brison, who is also that party's finance critic.
According to the Bank's own code of ethics, "acceptance by employees of gifts, hospitality or other benefits arising out of activities associated with their official Bank duties and offered by persons, groups or organizations having commercial or business dealings with the Bank, or with the potential of having such dealings with the Bank is permitted only if such gifts, hospitality"¦ do not influence the employee or his judgement; compromise or appear to compromise the employee's objectivity or impartiality or the integrity of the Bank".
While members of the Liberal party were quietly trying to mobilize a potential Carney campaign, the banker made two notable speeches that are put into new light after the news of the Liberals' attempts to recruit him.
Becoming the first Bank governor to directly address organized labour, Carney spoke to the Canadian Auto Workers in August, telling them it wasn't just a high dollar hurting their industry, (saying insufficiently diverse export markets and low productivity were also factors).
Shortly after, Carney flew to the oil patch where he lambasted assertions of "Dutch disease" without naming Tom Mulcair - the NDP leader who attributed the so-called disease to oil development in Alberta.
Ian Lee, a political science professor at Carleton University, says news of the Liberals' recruitment efforts and Carney's complicity in them explains "why he's going to England."
"Carney probably realized that it's not great optics to be negotiating with the opposition to take on the government you're serving," Lee said.
A fiscal conservative who is socially progressive, Carney would be a prime candidate for either the Liberals or the Conservatives, said Lee, who has suspicions Stephen Harper may want to groom Carney as his successor in the 2019 federal election - a year after Carney's five-year stint in England expires.
Carney leaves for England next summer.
Neither MPs nor the Prime Minister's Office commented for this story.