Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner April 22, 2021
I’ve always had a soft a spot for northerners, the really far-north dwellers, not just those from the Cochrane area. I was lucky to spend several seasons in Yellowknife, where the CBC airs every afternoon in Indigenous languages, and there are noisy sled-dog teams to wave off into the tundra.
I admired the spunk of those people. To say nothing of the women’s sealskin fashions. Into the local coffee shop, Javaroma, came smartly-attired women every morning in stylish mukluks and parkas.
So when I learned about the new United Nations Ambassador for Climate, a world-known banker and a boy from Fort Smith, NWT, all at the same time, I was excited. Born to teachers in the small town (pop 2,500) of Fort Smith in 1965 and then schooled in Alberta from age six, Mark Joseph Carney was some bright student, earning advanced degrees from Harvard and Oxford after high school in Edmonton.
He chose economics, he says, so he could better understand the world. But he was certainly a major liberal arts person too. His writing is laced with quotes from Dante, Shakespeare and St Luke. Also, of course, from Adam Smith and David Hume.
Now after five years as governor of the Bank of Canada, (2007-2012), this central banker who is credited with pulling us through the recession of 2008, and then seven years as governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has come home to Ottawa with his British economist wife and four daughters. He played hockey throughout his college years, and maintains fan status with the Oilers.
He is a prodigious worker with a high intelligence, and a likable personality. What stands out now is his acute social conscience. Carney has just published his first book, “Value(s).” At 502 pages, it is both readable and fearless, combining ethics and solid economics. Witty and full of stories, it brings the science of economics down-to-earth.
Still, it stretched me, that book. A combination of mastery in history, economic theory and moral reasoning, it achieves high global status, something like the work of Yuval Harari or Katherine Hayhoe.
Carney has now been appointed by the United Nations as its ambassador for climate and economics, getting ready for the worldwide climate conference in Glasgow (COP26) in November. At a salary of $1 a year.
Not that he is needing funds. He worked for the investment firm Goldman Sachs for 12 years, living in several national capitals before becoming Governor of the Bank of Canada. Then he helped the U.K. face its Brexit outcomes.
Now, known for his environmental and social concerns, connected with financial minds and decision-makers, a man especially concerned about our world’s staggering wealth inequalities, he is uniquely positioned and widely trusted to have a large positive impact in solving our most pressing problems.
It is his moral assertions I have enjoyed. “Markets don’t have values, people do. It is our responsibility to close the gap between what we value and what the market prices. That is the work of politics.”
Carney worries we once were a “market economy, but we have become a market society.”
One wonders if indeed Mark Carney will take the route of politics. He was prominent at the virtual Liberal party conference in early April, being interviewed by new MP Marci Ien, and then giving a keynote speech. Could that be the precursor of a federal political leadership run? Not, I think, before Carney has served for a while in his global role.
There is a fundamental Canadian-ness to the man that makes him stand out. He identifies three crises facing the world: COVID, credit and climate. He seems undaunted in the face of them, perhaps his best quality.
Outstanding, often self-directed, humour makes that 502-page book often fun. He celebrates what is generally considered the uneconomic virtue of humility in his final chapter. Imagine that.
I’ll write more about Mark Carney in future. In the meantime, Fort Smith rules!
You can purchase Positive Community directly from Rosemary Ganley at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon.com<