Former Bank of Canada governor and card-carrying Liberal, Mark Carney, says he hasn’t ruled out a future run for the party’s leadership.
Mr. Carney, who has also served at the top of the Bank of England and is currently the chair of Brookfield Asset Management and the United Nations special envoy on climate action, has long been considered a contender for the Liberal leadership.
In an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail on Wednesday, he said he is still weighing a bid.
“It’s not a decision that I need to take now,” Mr. Carney said. Asked if he had ruled it out, he said “no.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to leading the Liberals into the next federal election, which is scheduled for 2025. However, since his pledge to stay on, his party’s support in public-opinion polls has slumped and its fundraising numbers have foundered.
On Wednesday, Percy Downe, a senator and former chief of staff to Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, penned an opinion piece for National Newswatch in which he said the “prudent course of action” is for Mr. Trudeau to step down and someone else from within caucus take the helm.
Mr. Carney has never run for political office and also didn’t rule out putting his name on the ballot to be an MP.
The prominent Liberal spoke at two climate summits in Ottawa this week, where he both applauded Mr. Trudeau and said his government has done more on the climate file than any previous government, but also urged stronger action and criticized last week’s carbon price reversal.
“I very much want Canada to be at the forefront of this transition. For Canada and for Canadians. There’s every reason why we should be. And so, I’ll lean in where I can, to help out in Canada.”
In his interview, he defended the carbon price and said for it to work and change behaviour, businesses and households need certainty about the policy and where it is going.
Without naming Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, he criticized the Official Opposition Leader’s approach on climate change. Mr. Poilievre is taking on the carbon price with “axe the tax” rallies across the country but hasn’t yet presented his party’s plan to address climate change.
“You have to have a plan, not slogans,” Mr. Carney said. “We need to continue to raise the bar here in Canada and if you know a party is coming in front of Canadians, whenever the next election is, without a plan, with just slogans, that’s irresponsible.”
Failing to have a plan to address climate change, he said, would lead to “much worse” outcomes. “It will have material impacts on Canada’s competitiveness, Canadian jobs, Canadian households,” Mr. Carney said.
According to public-opinion polling though, Canadians are turning toward the Conservatives in significant numbers. Mr. Poilievre holds a double-digit lead over the Liberals in national polling and the Conservatives are leading in every region outside of Quebec.
Asked about the advantage Mr. Poilievre holds, Mr. Carney said: “You can have in effect slogans that sound good, that sound appealing, that ultimately are detrimental.”
“I’m the one in the conversation who’s actually been in business, who actually is in business, and makes decisions,” Mr. Carney said.
“I’m not a lifelong politician. You tend to see people who – often – are lifelong politicians have a very simplistic view of markets. They don’t understand how decisions are really made. They don’t understand how things are interconnected.”
Despite his criticism of the Conservatives, Mr. Carney cautioned that he hasn’t “ruled in” a political bid and he noted that there is currently a “crowded field.”
“We have a leader of the Liberal Party, we have a Prime Minister, we have a leader of the opposition, we have a leader of the third party,” Mr. Carney said. “We have various people who either are Prime Minister or who want to be Prime Minister.”
Before he considers the top job, Liberal strategist Scott Reid said Mr. Carney should run as a member of Parliament. Despite Mr. Carney’s prominence in the business world, Mr. Reid said the former central banker still needs to show he has political skills and can “conquer retail politics.”
“Mark Carney isn’t going to be a successful leadership candidate until he’s a successful political candidate. He needs to run for office,” said Mr. Reid, a principal and co-founder of Feschuk.Reid.
He characterized Mr. Carney’s comments as an “expression of interest” that should be welcomed by the Prime Minister’s Office and urged the Liberals to welcome him.
“The Liberal Party of Canada, right now, and this government needs every ounce of talent it can muster,” Mr. Reid said.
He added though that while the Prime Minister is in a precarious position among voters, his position as Liberal Leader isn’t under threat internally and he is still the party’s best asset on the campaign trail and in Quebec.
Already though, the Conservative Leader has dubbed Mr. Carney “the incoming leader of the Liberal Party” in the House of Commons, where he called Mr. Trudeau “an outgoing Liberal Prime Minister.”
Asked if he sees a path to victory for the Liberals in the next election, Mr. Carney replied: “Better is always possible.”