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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 ...

While he was on his Nova Scotia holiday, however, the central banker found the time to sit down for an interview with longtime Brison aide and writer Dale Palmeter. The Q&A posted on allNovaScotia.com included a discussion about how Mr. Carney relieves stress by running at least five times a week, playing tennis with his wife and cross-country skiing.

The central banker went on to discuss the benefits of moderation in eating, saying he’d much rather give his children a small serving of full-fat yogurt than a larger serving of diet yogurt. He told Mr. Palmeter he thinks Reader’s Digest named him the “most trusted Canadian” in 2011 because “I call a spade a spade.”

In the interview, Mr. Carney said that his biggest concern in Canada was “income inequality,” a theme that Mr. Brison raised with Mr. Carney during parliamentary hearings at the finance committee of the House this year.

The Bank of Canada refused to answer any questions about the Carney family’s stayover at the Liberal finance critic’s Nova Scotia home.

The bank’s conflict of interest policy, however, says employees must avoid “the appearance of impropriety” as well “avoiding actual impropriety.” It advises central bank staff to ask themselves “does it feel right” when deciding whether to accept hospitality or gifts or other benefits – and to consider: “Is there an alternative action that would not pose an ethical conflict?”

By deciding to leave for England next year, Mr. Carney becomes the first Bank of Canada governor to bow out of the job early since 1961, when James Coyne quit over disagreements with Progressive Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker. The move to Britain was particularly surprising because Mr. Carney had publicly denied that he had any intention of leading the Bank of England. “I have my job … and I absolutely intend to fulfill that role,” Mr. Carney told CTV in August.

While Mr. Carney is quitting Canada for the Bank of England, a decision he called a “hard choice,” there is nothing to suggest he’s ruled out a political career in Canada down the road.

His term at the British central bank is five years, meaning that unless things change the Carney family will be back in Canada in 2018. Depending on the Liberal fortunes in the next federal election, expected by 2015, Mr. Carney could be in an even better position to contemplate a leadership bid.

One of the concerns among Liberals about Mr. Carney’s potential candidacy last summer was whether he could successfully jump into the world of politics from his non-partisan position at the Bank of Canada.

He would have had to leave his job before the end of his term, which would have irked those who wanted him to continue his stewardship of Canada’s financial system. But he would have also had to answer questions about his working relationship with the Conservative government at the same time as he had prepared his bid for the Liberal leadership.

Sources say Mr. Carney started to express similar doubt during the summer about the Liberal option, telling some that it would not be appropriate to go straight from the governorship into politics.

Another worry for Liberals was Mr. Carney’s lack of political experience. There is a history in Canada of smart and talented candidates who fail to get support at the ballot box. The last full-time Liberal leaders, Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, bombed despite impressive intellectual qualifications.

Over the summer, Mr. Carney voiced concern about the toll that politics takes. He told one colleague he was not willing to take on the brutal life of politics, at least not with a young family. But he was determined on one count – to continue a career in public service.

Mr. Murphy and Mr. McKenna, for their part, refused to answer questions about their efforts in favour of Mr. Carney’s candidacy.

Mr. Carney said that any talk of him being courted by Liberal officials needs to be taken “with a grain of salt.”

“People approached me as they approach others about these issues,” he said. “People approach you and say, ‘Shouldn’t you do X?’ or ‘Would you do X or would you do Y?’ and the question is whether you do it,” he said.

“I didn’t do it.”

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