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Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

POLITICS

How the Liberal Party lost Mark Carney Add to ...

In fact, much of the organizational work on behalf of Mr. Carney was kept quiet, with some Liberal sources saying they were sworn to secrecy. Still, the effort was concerted. Liberal sources said Mr. Murphy made a number of phone calls over the summer to “get organizers and support around the country” for Mr. Carney.

“I got a call in the summer from Tim Murphy, who was at one point very convinced that he was going to run,” said a veteran Liberal organizer with a winning track record in the party.

A Liberal MP was also contacted by Mr. Murphy and urged to avoid offering his support to Mr. Trudeau before Mr. Carney made a final decision. “Timmy really didn’t say much other than to keep my powder dry. He was purposefully evasive with any details around any conversations that would have taken place.”

Liberal MP and former bank economist John McCallum spoke to the governor in mid-August. After addressing a controversy over the bank’s decision to remove a scientist of Asian origin from the original design of its $100 bill, Mr. McCallum said he raised the issue of the Liberal leadership with Mr. Carney.

“I chatted with him a little bit about it,” Mr. McCallum said. “He didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no.”

Other Liberal organizers said Mr. Carney responded to inquiries by seeking clarification about the job, but also about what it would take to beat Mr. Trudeau at the convention next April. “He asked questions,” said a well-known party organizer who was tasked by Liberals with finding answers for Mr. Carney.

The pro-Carney Liberals discussed a strategy that would entail signing up a set number of members in every riding in the country, as the leadership rules give equal weighting to all 308 ridings. The sense was that Mr. Trudeau would have more support on the first ballot, but that Mr. Carney might be able to win more second-place support than Mr. Trudeau from the other leadership camps.

Liberals sensed that Mr. Carney was one of theirs, and that he could be sold to the party membership.

As governor, Mr. Carney startled more than a few central bank watchers in 2011 by sympathizing with the frustrations of the Occupy Wall Street movement. That same year, he told Reader’s Digest that he found Bay Street culture too materialistic for his liking.

Mr. Carney’s father, Bob Carney, ran as a Liberal Party candidate for Edmonton-South in the 1980 election.

Mr. Carney spent a part of the summer in the company of his Liberal boosters, expanding on the traditional duties of a Governor of the Bank of Canada with a surprising speech to the Canadian Auto Workers and a human-interest interview with a Nova Scotia Web publication that focuses on political and business news. The moves gave the impression that he was trying to gauge his ability to connect to a new audience.

The central banker and his family stayed for close to a week at Liberal finance critic Scott Brison’s Nova Scotia seaside home last summer, a visit that took place as members of the opposition party mounted the effort to recruit him.

Mr. Brison and his spouse own a house in the small community of Cheverie on the west coast of Nova Scotia. The modest two-storey house has a commanding view of Minas Basin, an inlet of the Bay of Fundy known for very high tides.

Mr. Carney, his wife and family stayed at Mr. Brison’s following a keynote speech the central banker delivered to a Nova Scotia gathering of East Coast business elites. It is an annual invitation-only event organized by Mr. McKenna at the luxury Fox Harb’r golf resort and spa.

Mr. Brison, one of the party members who’s been identified as expressing interest in seeing Mr. Carney helm the Liberal Party, declined to speak about hosting the central banker and his family – or what was discussed during the stayover. “Cheverie is our home and private space, not something I really discuss,” he wrote in an e-mailed response.

Mr. Carney declined to discuss his family’s stay with Mr. Brison, a politician he’s known since the central banker was a senior bureaucrat in the Finance Department and the Liberal was public works minister. “I’m not talking about my personal life when I’m on a private vacation; full stop. So I’m not going to entertain your question.”

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