Is former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney eyeing a career in politics?

Carney, who also led the Bank of England, has been a high-profile figure since he led Canada out of the 2008 financial crisis

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney speaks during the Bank of England Markets Forum 2018, at Bloomberg, in central London, Britain, May 24, 2018. Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS
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Mark Carney, the Canadian economist who helmed both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, will be a keynote speaker at this week’s Liberal Party convention.

The news of Mr Carney’s involvement in the virtual conference has sent political pundits in Ottawa into a frenzy.

"It would be odd for him to be giving such a speech if he was determined to remain above the political fray," John Ibbitson, a columnist at the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, told The National.

Mr Carney, 56, has been a high-profile figure in Canada since he served as governor of the Bank of Canada from 2008 to 2013 and helped navigate the country out of the 2008 financial crisis.

As his term was coming to an end, there was talk that he might enter politics, but he chose instead to become governor of the Bank of England, a role he held until last year.

In this position, he helped the institution weather Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Last summer, Mr Carney returned to Canada. He recently published a memoir, Value(s): Building a Better World for All, which outlines his strategy for building a more sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery.

Writing in La Presse, the leading French newspaper in Canada, Miville Tremblay said the book reveals another layer of the leading economist.

“We knew he took courageous decisions in times of crisis, but now we’ve discovered his visionary intellect,” Mr Tremblay writes.

In August 2020, his name was floated as a possible successor to Bill Morneau, who was forced to step down as finance minister over his failure to recuse himself from a Cabinet discussion involving WE Charity, where two of his daughters have worked or volunteered and from whom he accepted then repaid $41,000 expenses originally covered by the organisation.

But Prime Minister Trudeau instead tapped Chrystia Freeland, who already held the position of deputy prime minister, to assume the role.

Ms Freeland is considered a front runner to replace Mr Trudeau as leader of the Liberal Party if and when he chooses to step down.

“She would be a formidable candidate whether Mark Carney ran or not, but I don’t think the two of them can run,” said Mr Ibbitson. “I think if one runs, the other would stand down because they are essentially going after the same votes.”

Mr Carney’s decision to enter politics may well depend on whether Ms Freeland wants to take over the Liberal leadership or not. The two are close friends and Mr Carney is godfather to one of Ms Freeland’s three children.

If Mr Carney does choose to enter the political ring, Mr Ibbitson says he would be uniquely qualified.

“He’s a big-money liberal who’s passionate about the environment and fighting climate change. So, there aren’t many CVs around that would match that.”

Mr Trudeau, however, has shown no sign of wanting to step down, and while his numbers have taken a hit during the pandemic, his party continues to poll above the opposition.

Mr Ibbitson estimates that any move by Mr Carney won’t be made for at least a few years.