Straight Talk
DAVID AKIN - Carney mum on vacations with Liberals

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney listens to a question during a news conference upon the release of the Monetary Policy Report in Ottawa January 23, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie

DAVID AKIN | PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU CHIEF

OTTAWA — In Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney's first Ottawa press conference since the country learned he spent a week vacationing with Liberal MP Scott Brison last summer, he insisted he'd done nothing inappropriate and, in any event, details of his private life are none of our business.

Carney's family visited Brison at the MP's Nova Scotia home last summer as Brison and several other Liberals were trying to convince Carney to take a run at the federal Liberal leadership.

Carney didn't do that and instead decided to quit the Bank of Canada to become the first foreign governor of the Bank of England later this year.

Next month, Carney will testify at a British parliamentary committee. Some MPs on that panel have already hinted they may very well want to sound him out on his political leanings and aspirations.

In Ottawa Wednesday, Carney refused to say if the vacation at Brison's home — Carney says they'd been friends for several years prior to his appointment as Bank of Canada governor — was a first or something he had done before. He also wouldn't say if he and his family have ever vacationed with any other MPs during the nearly six years he's been the bank governor.

"I understand a few people will have questions about it and I respect those questions, but in the end the actions were appropriate," Carney said, noting his conclusion is backed up by the Bank of Canada's in-house lawyer. "And what we're talking about is my private life, my private vacation and I don't see that I need to detail my private life and my interactions with my friends."

In any event, within a few weeks after entertaining offers from Liberals last summer, Carney jumped headfirst into one of the hottest political debates at the time in Ottawa — NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's contention that Canada's energy wealth and addiction to high oil prices is killing the manufacturing sector. This was Mulcair's so-called "Dutch disease" argument.

In a speech in Calgary a few weeks after his summer vacation ended, Carney eviscerated the whole concept of Dutch disease as it applied to the Canadian economy and, though he didn't mention Mulcair by name, few in Ottawa could fail to note that the Bank of Canada governor had effectively undermined a chief nemesis of his Liberal friends, namely, the NDP leader.

On Wednesday, Carney dismissed suggestions the Calgary speech or any of his comments while he has been governor were motivated by anything other than being the country's steward of monetary policy.

"I stand by everything that I've done over the course of my term," Carney said. "In terms of the discussion this summer around the role of commodities in the Canadian economy, this is a fundamental issue in the Canadian economy. It's an extremely important issue — how the interaction between commodity prices...affects activity in inflation in Canada — so it's incumbent on us to explain that and we'll continue to do so."

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