Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney was unclear about his stance on the carbon tax while speaking as a witness before a Senate committee. However, he did call upon anyone with a “credible and predictable” alternative to the controversial tax to come forward with an idea. 

Carney made his comments before a Senate committee on Wednesday, which had invited him as a witness to study Bill S-243, legislation that would require banks and other federally regulated entities to “mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

The committee was discussing the Trudeau government’s federal carbon pricing policy and the administration’s general spending. 

Senator Leo Housakos of Quebec pressed Carney repeatedly as to whether or not he supports “Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax,” but the United Nations’ Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance evaded the question. 

Later, Carney would give a more clear response to Yonah Martin, a B.C. senator.

“I think it has served a purpose up until now,” said Carney. “I think one can always look for better solutions and, as a country, we should always be open to better solutions.”

However, Carney insisted that any replacement policy should offer an improvement on the carbon tax, and hold the capability to spur on investment. 

“What’s critical in my view… is that if something is going to be changed, that something at least as good is put in its place. Ideally, if you’re going to change something, you put in place something better that still has that credibility and predictability,” said Carney.

“Because we’re in a position right now where we need $2 trillion of investments at the core of our economy in the next 25 years.”

Again, Housakos pressed Carney on his stance on the carbon tax, saying it was a “yes or no” question.

“This is the joy of being a witness, you get to say what you think,” responded Carney.

Carney said that governments that “spend too much and invest too little will eventually pay a heavy price” in a speech last month in Toronto, according to the National Post

Martin referenced the speech, in what he felt was a criticism of the federal budget from Carney.

“You’ve… said that the Liberal government is spending too much and that you weren’t at the risk of constant spending. So, I’m taking this opportunity to ask what Liberal government programs and spending would you cut?” asked Martin.

Carney dismissed Martin’s interpretation of his words, responding, “You read something into the record which is not a quote of something that I have said. So, if you’re going to say I have said something, could you make sure that the quote is correct?”

The Conservatives were eager to grill Carney as he recently received the moniker of “Carbon Tax Carney” from opposition leader Pierre Poilievre. 

There is some speculation that Carney may run as the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada next year, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisting he intends to run again. 

Conservative MP Marty Morantz called for Carney to appear as a witness before the House of Commons finance committee for no less than three hours, claiming that he’s made it “clear” that he’s interested in a Liberal leadership run and therefore Canadians “deserve to hear what he thinks.”

“He may not want to axe the tax… but it’s very clear he wants to axe the prime minister,” said Morantz.

NDP MP Don Davies argued that the Conservatives’ motives were out of line as Carney is currently a “private citizen,” accusing them of being “clearly obsessed” with Carney’s future political career as a potential new Liberal leader. 

“I don’t think that Canadians are interested in the political future of Mark Carney when we have a budget to pass that has immediate economic impacts upon them,” said Davies.

The finance committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, where the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will be testifying for one hour.

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