Cabinet ministers will be on parade at the Liberal convention on Friday but all eyes will be on someone who’s never overtly dipped a toe in partisan politics before now: Mark Carney.
The question on everyone’s mind is whether the former central banker’s appearance at the convention — in conversation this evening with rookie Liberal MP and convention co-chair Marci Ien —signals an intention to finally take the plunge into politics.
For a decade, Liberals have dreamed of one day persuading the former governor of the Bank of Canada to run for the party and, maybe one day, even lead it.
Carney quietly flirted with the idea of a leadership run in 2012, courted by Liberals smarting from a historic electoral thumping and desperately searching for a saviour.
But amid criticism that even the smallest whiff of partisanship was undermining the independence crucial to a central banker, Carney eventually squelched the speculation by saying he’d just as soon become a “circus clown” and then left Canada to take over the helm of the Bank of England,
He’s been coy about his political ambitions since returning to Canada last summer and releasing a book last month promoting his vision for a new kind of capitalism that combines the pursuit of profit with social purpose.
His view that the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to reset the way the world works, making it more inclusive, more equitable and more environmentally sustainable, dovetails neatly with the thinking of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
Carney’s appearance at the convention comes little more than a week before Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, herself seen as potential successor to Trudeau, is to deliver her first budget. It is expected to lay out in detail the cost of the pandemic, which has already sent the national deficit soaring past $380 billion, along with a plan to spend up to $100 billion more to fuel a more equitable, green, inclusive economic recovery.
Even if Carney doesn’t come clean tonight about his political ambitions, endorsement of the government’s general direction by someone of his stature would be welcomed by Liberals.