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Former central banker Mark Carney to speak at second day of Liberal convention

Cabinet ministers will be on parade at the Liberal convention today, 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 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 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.

Seeing pandemic as reset opportunity

Carney’s 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 with the thinking of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

At a press conference this morning, Trudeau avoided responding directly to questions about whether he is actively recruiting Carney to run as a Liberal MP in the next election.

“The Liberal Party has a long history of welcoming in expert speakers at our conventions from a range of different backgrounds,” said Trudeau.

“We’re very pleased to have someone of the stature of Mark Carney, who’s been working very hard on, among other things, the intersection between the global economy and the fight against climate change.

“I know Liberals are very excited to hear what he has to say.”

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Suzanne Cowan, president of the Liberal Party of Canada, introduces Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a donor appreciation event in Toronto in November 2018. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)

Carney’s appearance at the convention comes little more than a week before Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, herself seen as a 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.

CBC News will have coverage of the Liberal and NDP policy conventions on CBC News Network, CBC Radio’s The World at Six, The World This Weekend and World Report, The National and

  • Watch special coverage on Power & Politics Friday beginning at 5 p.m. ET for convention analysis.
  • CBC News Network will have regular updates and live coverage of key events.
  • will have full news coverage and analysis and will livestream the conventions.
  • On Saturday, CBC Radio’s The House will focus on the Liberal and NDP policy conventions starting at 9 a.m. ET.
  • On Sunday, Rosemary Barton Live will deliver convention news and analysis, including an interview with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh beginning at 10 a.m. ET. 

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