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Former Governor of the Bank of Canada David Dodge. (Sean Kilpatrick/ Globe and Mail)
Former Governor of the Bank of Canada David Dodge. (Sean Kilpatrick/ Globe and Mail)

ROB Magazine

Welcome to Dodge City Add to ...

The plot goes like this. A gang of outsiders have taken over a quiet town. It's not that this town couldn't do with a shakeup. But the gang is mean. The approach of its leaders is to seek and destroy. Their methods offend many long-time residents who recall a time when they believe there was decorum; and, at the same time, the streets were a livelier place. But the town's establishment is powerless to push back against the gang which, it must be said, is more disciplined and committed than its opponents.

But there is one man who is different. He has an air about him that is so authentic that one could imagine his image being exploited to sell both university tuitions and John Deere tractors. This man is wise and is known to be pretty tough himself. He goes about his business almost as if nothing has changed. This appears to put the gang off its game. Its members give him a wide berth in the streets. For many residents, this man inspires hope that the gang could at long last be held to account.

What's unclear is how this movie might end.

David Dodge was a professor, a civil servant and the seventh head of the Bank of Canada over a working life that began in 1968 and formally ended on Jan. 31, 2008, when he turned over the governor's corner office to Mark Carney.

And that should have been that. Retired Canadian central bank governors are supposed to be seen at academic conferences, if anywhere-and not heard in the media criticizing the government's economic assumptions or policy choices. And certainly not elevating eyebrows across the nation by likening Ottawa's plan for economic recovery to "pissing money down a rathole."

"Up until now, it hasn't been the case for former governors to get involved in politics," says Bruce Muirhead, a historian at the University of Waterloo and biographer of Louis Rasminsky, Canada's third central bank governor, who held the post between 1961 and 1973.

Rasminsky, who died in 1998, had a hand in some of the seminal events of his time. He was deeply involved in the negotiations that led to the creation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank after the Second World War, and he led the central bank into the modern age. Yet after he retired, he "pretty much disappears" from the historical record, says Muirhead.

That's essentially true, too, of the governors who came between Rasminsky and Dodge's appointment in 2001: Gerald Bouey, John Crow and Gordon Thiessen.

Dodge, who will turn 67 in June, is challenging the notion that to be a retired central banker is to live a monk's life. This is, after all, the man who brought monetary policy to the masses by delivering an unprecedented 96 speeches over his seven-year term.

When he left the Bank of Canada, Dodge promised to keep quiet about policy for six months. He kept that pledge, although in May-the fourth month-he was in the papers again, talking about his appointment as chancellor of Queen's University in Kingston, where he earned his undergraduate degree, met his wife, Christiane, and taught after getting his PhD from Princeton University.

In September, Dodge accepted a job as a senior adviser with the law firm Bennett Jones LLP, and a couple of months later was named chairman of the board of directors of the C.D. Howe Institute, the Toronto-based economic think tank.

And in March, 2009, Dodge signed on to help the world's biggest banks avoid another financial meltdown. With governments around the world contemplating tougher regulations, the Institute of International Finance, a global bank lobby that includes Bank of Nova Scotia CEO Rick Waugh on its board, appointed Dodge and former Banque de France governor and International Monetary Fund managing director Jacques de Larosière to lead the new Market Monitoring Group.

Dodge also accepted a request from Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach in July, 2009, to join his economic advisory council. Finally, in March of this year, Waugh revealed that Scotiabank intended to nominate Dodge to its board of directors.

In all, Dodge has given more than a dozen interviews and speeches since his re-emergence, commenting pointedly on everything from pensions to the need to overhaul the IMF to the likelihood that governments will have to raise taxes in order to balance their budgets.

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