Straight Talk
EDITORIAL - What was Mark Carney thinking?

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney



There's no substitute for good judgment and common sense.

That's why it would have been nice if Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney had displayed some last summer.

This after he was approached by senior Liberals to run for the leadership of their party.

Good judgment and common sense ought to have told Carney that even contemplating such a move was incompatible with his leadership role at the bank, which describes its mission as promoting "the economic and financial welfare of Canada," free from partisan politics.

How can you do that if you're flirting with running for Liberal leader when the Conservatives are in power?

How can you do it no matter who is in power?

That's a question British MPs will no doubt be asking Carney before he takes over as the Bank of England's governor on July 1.

Good judgment and common sense should have told Carney that the Liberals who approached him to run would keep trying, unless he gave them a firm, immediate "no."

Carney argues, as he told the Globe and Mail, that he didn't actively seek the Liberal nomination or place any "outgoing" calls about it.

But, it's not about who called whom.

The concern is there were discussions at all between the Liberals and Carney about him becoming leader, and that they went on for some time.

Carney didn't tell the bank about this while it was happening, or about his week-long vacation stay with his family at the seaside Nova Scotia home of his friend, Liberal MP Scott Brison, during the lobbying effort. He said there was nothing to report, since he never indicated he would run for Liberal leader.

The bank's general counsel has agreed, after the fact, that Carney did not place himself in a conflict of interest, or give rise to questions about his objectivity, by accepting Brison's hospitality, since they had no actual or potential commercial relationship.

But this is about the much broader issue of public perception.

And when it comes to perception, it's a bad idea for the governor of Canada's central bank, given his non-partisan role, to flirt simultaneously with running for the leadership of any political party.

Good judgment and common sense ought to have told Carney that.

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