Five months after stepping down as governor of the Bank of England, Carney became an informal adviser on policy matters to the Canadian prime minister. Trudeau is leaning on the former Goldman Sachs banker as a sounding board for what officials are calling an ambitious economic recovery plan, according to a person familiar with internal political operations.
The plan will seek to tackle everything from failings in the social safety net to climate change, infrastructure and immigration. The first measures will likely be rolled out in a budget update this fall ahead of a more comprehensive budget package early next year, the person said.
Carney’s involvement comes as Trudeau’s own Finance Minister Bill Morneau appears to be fighting for his political life. Morneau is embroiled in a scandal over a contract with a charity that employs one of his daughters and paid CAN $ 41,000 (US $ 30,700) in travel expenses for her family for trips to Kenya and Ecuador. Even though Morneau repaid the money and apologized, the opposition Conservatives are calling for his resignation.
A spokesperson for Carney said he was Boris Johnson’s advisor at the COP26 conference and the United Nations special envoy for climate action and finance. “In his current role as Mark, he speaks to a number of heads of state, but we don’t comment on those private conversations,” spokeswoman Jennifer Nemeth said in an email. Trudeau’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Trudeau is also taking advice from Michael Sabia, who stepped down as head of the Quebec pension fund earlier this year. Sabia assumed the presidency of the federal government’s Canada Infrastructure Bank in April.
The growing roles of Carney and Sabia represent an effort by Trudeau to expand his pool of advisers. Trudeau’s group of key decision-makers during the crisis was small – mostly in the hands of his own staff, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Morneau and their close officials. But that is starting to change.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna are more active in developing an infrastructure spending program. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains is set to implement plans to support industries facing long-term damage from the pandemic, as well as measures to help sectors deemed strategic for the economy from the country. Immigration, child care and unemployment insurance are among other priority issues for the government.
Getting Carney, who returned to Ottawa, to a role in government would add credibility to any Trudeau plan.
More than seven years after leaving Canada, Carney’s star status in the country’s political firmament remains intact. His speeches on issues such as income inequality and climate change have helped the 55-year-old surpass the typical central banker audience.
Carney was an assistant in the governments of the Liberal and Conservative parties prior to his appointment as Governor of the Bank of Canada in 2008. Carney’s subsequent emergence as a key player in the global response to the financial crisis, when he became chairman of the Financial The Stability Council, then governor of the Bank of England in 2013, has strengthened his influence.
There is even speculation that Trudeau probed Carney’s interest in taking on a more formal role, according to two other sources outside the prime minister’s inner circle.
Carney has long considered the possibility of entering politics and has been touted as a potential future leader of the Liberals. He is working on a book that will examine ways to build a more inclusive society in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Carney left the Bank of England in March after a tenure of almost seven years.
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