Mark Carney cleared of breaking rules on political impartiality

The Governor of the Bank of Canada was referred to his internal general counsel after details emerged of a family holiday at the home of Liberal MP, Scott Brison, reports The Telegraph.

The reports, published The Globe and Mail at the weekend, had claimed Mr Carney had “serious discussions” about joining Canada’s opposition Liberal party while his stays with Mr Brison were “a likely violation of the Bank’s conflict of interest guidelines.”

But on Monday, Bank of Canada spokesman Jeremy Harrison said the general counsel had cleared him of wrong-doing. “The Bank of Canada’s general counsel, who is responsible for enforcing the bank’s conflict of interest policy, has assessed that this visit does not breach the Bank’s conflict of interest guidelines in any way,” said Mr Harrison.

He added: “Mr. Carney’s acceptance of hospitality provided by a personal friend does not arise out of ‘activities associated with official Bank duties’. Nor can it be defined as partisan or political activity.”

The Bank of England, where Mr Carney is due to take over from Sir Mervyn King on July 1, declined to comment.

According to reports in the Toronto-based newspaper at the weekend, one of Mr Carney’s “primary tasks [is] to keep the bank as free as possible from the appearance of partisan influence”. As a result, “the allegations reveal a serious lack of judgment and threatens to taint one of the country’s most vital institutions,” it claimed.

The newspaper claimed that Mr Carney had been the subject on sustained efforts by Canada’s opposition Liberal party to recruit him as a potential leader.

The newspaper claimed: “The central banker and his family stayed for close to a week at Liberal finance critic Scott Brison’s Nova Scotia seaside home last summer, a visit that took place as members of the opposition party mounted the effort to recruit him. Mr. Carney, his wife and family stayed at Mr. Brison’s following a keynote speech the central banker delivered to a Nova Scotia gathering of East Coast business elites.”

Under the Bank of Canada’s strict “conflict of interest policy”, staff are tasked with avoiding “the appearance of impropriety” as well “avoiding actual impropriety.”

When deciding whether to accept hospitality, staff are advised to ask themselves: “Is there an alternative action that would not pose an ethical conflict?”