Mark Carney is Back in the News – Why That’s Important for Sustainability and ESG

As polls show Canadian voters beginning to sour on Justin Trudeau, speculation has grown around the possibility of his resigning as Liberal leader and Prime Minister before the next election and the selection of a new Liberal leader in time for the next federal election. And even if he does run again in the next election  and win that one, there will come a time when Trudeau will need to step down,

Although the most popular choice to replace Trudeau is Christia Freeland, the current Minister of Finance, another name getting a lot of attention is Mark Carney.

Mark Carney for Prime Minister? Perhaps

As a card-carrying Liberal, Carney has made it clear on many occasions that he is interested in entering electoral politics at some point. And with his high profile, running for the Liberal leadership would not be unreasonable.

And he repeated that point earlier this month. This was followed by speculation that an Ottawa area Liberal MP, Mona Fortier, might step down so that he could run for her seat in the House of Commons. She has denied that, of course.

But What Does All of This Have to Do with ESG and Sustainability?

This is not the first time I have written about Mark Carney. Back in 2021, I wrote a story shortly after the publication of his book Values: Building a Better World. In that piece, I wrote about his commitment to using all of the economic tools at our disposal to “build an economy and society based not on market values but on human values.”

As I said then, Carney is the most famous Chair of the Bank of Canada ever. At that time, I also said:

“His role in handling that crisis helped Canada to survive the crisis more effectively than other countries. In 2011, he was even named Reader’s Digest “Editor’s Choice for Most Trusted Canadian.”

Carney was even the Chair of the Bank of Canada during the Financial Crisis of 2008 when Canada fared much better than the United States. Wikipedia refers to it as the Great Financial Crisis (GFS) and cites it as “the most severe worldwide economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929.”

Then in 2012, Carney was appointed as the Chancellor of the Bank of England. This is particularly significant because it was the first time in the history of the Bank of England that a non-Briton took on that important and prestigious role. While there, Carney helped Great Britain weather the arrival of BREXIT (but it’s not like that is done yet) and then COVID as he stepped down in March of 2020.

After the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, then what? 

When Carney left the Bank of England, he joined Brookfield Asset Management and took on a leadership role with the United Nations. On his LinkedIn profile, he informs us that: “I’m the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, and Chair and Head of Transition Investing at Brookfield Asset Management.” 

Brookfield describes itself as “a leading global alternative asset manager with approximately $850 billion of assets under management across renewable power & transition, infrastructure, private equity, real estate, and credit. Our objective is to generate attractive, long-term risk-adjusted returns for the benefit of our clients and shareholders.”

I think his decision to step into each of these roles speaks volumes about his commitment to the Values he speaks of in his book.

And Now He Could Be Interested in Becoming the Prime Minister of Canada?

During an interview with the Globe and Mail at the beginning of November, Carney said that while it’s a decision he needs to make right away, he would still consider it if the opportunity presented itself. The article goes on to describe Carney’s support for the action the federal government has taken on climate change and his criticism of the federal Conservative leader’s willingness to axe the carbon tax –  “You have to have a plan, not slogans”

But nothing is certain about politics. The next federal election is not expected until 2025 and Trudeau has publicly stated that he plans to lead the Liberal Party into that election, whatever the polls might say at the moment. But I think most of us would agree that Trudeau’s position as the leader of the Liberals and as Prime Minister is more tentative than at any other point in his time in office.

And, here we have a potential and viable leadership for the federal Liberal party that has shown a decades-long commitment to climate change and a just economy that serves all its members. This seems to me to be a promising sign for the politics of hope here in the “Great White North.”  

Political speculation can be quite entertaining. In some ways, it’s my form of sports speculation. When Trudeau steps down as Liberal leader, if Carney actually decides to run for the leadership, how he might fare against more established candidates like Christia Freeman and then the other party leaders have yet to be seen.

So, pull up a chair, grab some popcorn, and wait to see what happens.