Now that Stephen Poloz has announced he will step down as Bank of Canada Governor after his seven-year term ends in June 2020, attention turns to the possible candidates who might replace him. Here are six possibilities.
Carolyn Wilkins, senior deputy governor, Bank of Canada
Hometown: Peterborough, Ont.
Education: bachelor of arts (economics), Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ont., 1987; master of arts (economics), Western University, London, Ont., 1988
Strengths: Stephen Poloz has been grooming Wilkins to take over for him since she became his No. 2 in 2014. He created the chief operating officer position so the senior deputy could focus on policy rather than administration, and he graciously shares the spotlight at press conferences and during parliamentary testimony. Wilkins started her professional career in the federal government, moved to the central bank in 2001, helped fight the financial crisis and was among the first global policy-makers to take financial technology seriously. The latter will be an important issue for THE next governor.
Weaknesses: Wilkins lacks a PhD, but so do Jerome Powell, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair, and Christine Lagarde, the newly appointed president of the European Central Bank. A more serious barrier could be the modern tendency of appointing governors from outside the institution. The last senior deputy governor to be promoted to the big job was Gordon Thiessen in 1994.
Intangible: The first woman to serve as senior deputy governor could be the first woman to serve as governor.
The Other Favourite
Tiff Macklem, dean, Rotman School of Management
Education: bachelor of arts (economics), Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont., 1983; master’s degree and PhD in economics, Western University, 1989
Strengths: Macklem was the first choice of many to get the governor’s job when it came open in 2013. He joined the Bank of Canada at roughly the same time as Poloz and was a highly regarded researcher. He served as an associate deputy minister at finance from 2007 to 2010, and was Mark Carney’s senior deputy governor when he returned to the Bank of Canada. He left for Rotman in 2014.
Weaknesses: Macklem makes a base salary of more than $400,000 per year, according to Ontario’s Sunshine List, about the same as Poloz, but with less stress and more flexibility. People who know him say he’s shown little interest in returning to Ottawa. He re-upped at Rotman last year for a second five-year term that began in July.
Intangible: He led the Justin Trudeau government’s advisory committee on sustainable finance.
Paul Rochon, deputy minister, Finance Department
Hometown: Quebec City
Education: bachelor’s degree in history, McGill University, Montreal, 1983; master of arts (economics), University of Toronto, 1987.
Strengths: David Dodge parlayed a successful career as a senior public servant into a promotion to Bank of Canada governor and Rochon, a mandarin for more than 20 years, could do the same. He has run the Finance Department since 2014, a lengthy Harper-to-Trudeau tenure that suggests Finance Minister Bill Morneau is comfortable with him. Rochon would have a feel for the extent to which fiscal policy could be counted on to stabilize the economy, an important consideration in the years ahead since interest rates are already unusually low. He, too, fought the financial crisis alongside Macklem and Wilkins.
Weaknesses: If Wilkins’ academic credentials are deemed lacking, then Rochon is even less qualified. His career path has also left him unprepared for one of the most important aspects of the job: public speaking. Poloz has given a dozen speeches and public statements, and conducted roughly as many interviews, from the start of the year through the end of November. Rochon has been an important player in Ottawa for more than a decade, but, by the nature of his job, has had little practice talking to the public.
Intangible: He would be the first French Canadian to lead the central bank.
Jean Boivin, managing director, global head of research, BlackRock Investment Institute
Hometown: Chicoutimi, Que.
Education: bachelor of science (economics), Université de Montréal, 1995; master of arts (economics), Princeton University, 1997; PhD (economics), Princeton, 2000.
Strengths: Boivin is the perfect candidate on paper: he trained at elite universities, taught economics at university at a relatively young age, joined the Bank of Canada as a special adviser in 2009, and was promoted to deputy governor the next year. He left the central bank to become an associate deputy minister at Finance in 2012, and then left Ottawa a couple of years later for London to take a job at the world’s biggest asset manager.
Weaknesses: His resumé might still not be enough to impress the headhunter. The Bank of Canada’s board of directors will recommend a candidate, but the cabinet has final say and Boivin left Canada before the 2015 election, making him an unknown to many of Ottawa’s current power players. He also lacks experience managing a big institution.
Intangible: Not only would he be the first French Canadian governor, he would be the first to have written a research paper with Ben Bernanke, the former chair of the Federal Reserve.
The Long Shot
Paul Beaudry, deputy governor, Bank of Canada
Education: bachelor of arts (economics), Laval University, Montreal, 1983; master of arts (economics), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1984; PhD (economics), Princeton, 1989.
Strengths: Beaudry is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading thinkers on monetary policy. He began his academic career at the Université de Montréal in 1989, and has taught at Boston University, Oxford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UBC, among others. He held the Canada Research Chair in Macroeconomics from 2000 to 2015.
Weakness: Running a central bank in 2020 requires more than a big brain. Beaudry does not have any significant management experience, has not spent any time in the private sector, and his direct experience in public policy only dates back to February, when he was appointed deputy governor of the Bank of Canada.
Intangible: The Quebec factor.
Evan Siddall, chief executive, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Education: bachelor of arts (management economics), University of Guelph, 1987; bachelor of laws, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, 1990.
Strengths: Deflating asset-price bubbles and curbing the propensity of Canadian households to borrow has become almost as important as setting interest rates at the Bank of Canada. Siddall has made both focal points during his tenure at CMHC, emerging as the leading defender of tighter mortgage rules. The former investment banker would know his way around financial markets, and a stint at Irving Oil Ltd. provided insight on how the Canadian economy looks from the perspective of big business.
Weakness: Siddall lacks the technical skills of a macro-economist, an important liability because the next governor will inherit responsibility for a major research project that is investigating whether the Bank of Canada should overhaul the way it determines its interest-rate setting.
Intangible: He’s an excellent communicator and has a broad network of influential contacts.