Mark Carney tells U.K. MPs he has no political ambitions
Mark Carney, Bank of Canada Governor and chairman of the Financial Stability Board speaks during a news conference after a Financial Stability Board plenary meeting in Zurich, January 28, 2013. (REUTERS/Michael Buholzer)
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney brushed off questions from British MPs Thursday that he is eyeing a career in Canadian politics.
Carney, who takes over the helm of the Bank of England in July, faced a grilling from MPs on the U.K.'s treasury select committee on monetary policy about his appointment and how he'll bolster that country's stagnant economy.
But before tackling fiscal matters, the parliamentarians had housekeeping to do regarding the central banker's political leanings.
Pressed by Labour MP Teresa Pearce over his week-long vacation last summer at the home of the Canadian Liberal finance critic, Carney said he was "surprised" it would be viewed that taking "one of the most challenging jobs in central banking would be politically advantageous in (his) home country."
"If I had political ambitions, I would have pursued them in Canada," he told MPs seated in the Thatcher Room in Westminster. "I do not have political ambitions."
Questions were raised late last year about whether Carney was in conflict of interest after spending a family vacation with longtime friend, Liberal MP Scott Brison.
At the time, the federal Liberals were courting Carney to run for the party's leadership.
He was cleared by the central bank of any conflict.
U.K. MPs were also curious about Carney's hefty pay package and housing allowance at a time when the Bank of England is facing a pay freeze.
Carney will get an annual housing allowance of just over $390,000 as part of his contract as England's central bank chief. That's in addition to his overall salary of $1.4 million.
The chief central banker argued his pay will be in line with that of current British central banker Sir Mervyn King.
On the subject of the housing allowance, he said: "I'm moving from one of the least expensive cities in the world, Ottawa, to one of the most expensive."
Carney told the U.K. MPs that family considerations made him hesitate before taking the leap to the Bank of England, despite being courted throughout 2012 by U.K. Chancellor George Osborn.
He changed his mind after Osborne promised him a sweetened deal at a G20 meeting in Mexico last November. He offered Carney a five-year term that worked well for his young family and his daughters' educations.
In a written submission to the treasury select committee, Carney described the central banking gig as a leap that "will mark the pinnacle of (his) career."