Skip to main content

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz takes part in a news conference upon the release of the Monetary Policy Report in Ottawa on July 15.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

The Prime Minister's Office announced that Stephen Harper spoke with Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz Monday about the latest upheaval in financial markets.

The brief statement was only two sentences long, but the release comes in the middle of a federal election campaign in which the Conservative Leader is presenting himself as the best option for managing the economy.

"Prime Minister Harper and Governor Poloz discussed the recent decline in global stock markets and commodity prices, slowing growth in China and emerging markets, and the potential impacts on Canada's economy," the statement said.

The notice made no mention of Finance Minister Joe Oliver, who would normally be the government's main point of contact with the Bank of Canada. The Globe and Mail requested further information about the meeting from the Conservative Party but didn't receive a response.

The Finance Minister and Bank of Canada Governor talk regularly but do not comment on those discussions. The bank is independent of the government, is responsible for setting monetary policy and also produces forecasts for economic growth.

Former Finance Canada deputy minister Scott Clark said that while prime ministers and Bank of Canada governors do speak from time to time, it is unusual for the PMO to publicize the meeting. As a result, Mr. Clark said the announcement appears to be a political tactic.

"It doesn't hurt for the Prime Minister to be seen to be in charge, to be in control, speaking to the Governor of the Bank of Canada, getting briefed on what's happening," he said. Mr. Clark said the more common practice would be for the governor to speak with the finance minister and then the finance minister would brief the prime minister.

"I think it's a good political move and that's all it is," Mr. Clark said.

Louise Egan, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada, said such discussions take place regularly.

"Having these discussions on important economic issues is one of [the Governor's] responsibilities as head of the central bank. He does so on a regular basis. The bank does not disclose the details of these conversations," Ms. Egan said in an e-mail. "The Bank of Canada continues to monitor market developments closely, as it always does."