Written by 3:39 PM Mortgage Industry News Views: 4

Opinion: The Path Forward under Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland

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The last 24 hours has been significant for the Trudeau Government. The SNC Lavalin and WE Charity issues are primarily political liabilities, but the departure of Bill Morneau (the only Finance Minister this Prime Minister has ever had) in the midst of the most difficult challenges the country has faced in generations is different. An event like this can create questions of confidence, not only in the government, but in the financial markets. As such, a replacement needed to be announced immediately. Less than 14 hours later, Chrystia Freeland has been announced as our new Finance Minister.

Of the current team available to the Prime Minister, Freeland is a very logical choice for the Finance portfolio. Freeland was integral in negotiating USMCA (NAFTA’s replacement), taking on President Trump’s toughest negotiators. She has the full confidence of Trudeau and I am looking forward to working with her team.

(Mark Carney’s name had also been discussed a lot in recent days, but he was not going to be available for two reasons: He is still consulting for both the Canadian and British governments, and he is unelected. While Carney may well run for office eventually, the optics of someone outside cabinet taking over Finance now would have created more problems internally among Liberals.)

Over the last six months, Morneau oversaw the efforts of the government, OSFI, CMHC and the Bank of Canada in their response to the COVID-19 crisis. We congratulate him on the speed and coordination of the fiscal supports introduced – no small task at all. Our economy continues today due to many new programs and capital liquidity measures all introduced in record speed. As we tweeted last night, “We thank Morneau & his team for their stewardship during the past five trying months, and trust that Canada’s recovery continues in a predictable, data-driven manner.”

Nevertheless, we are focused on continuing the discussions on our issues with policymakers, including Minister Freeland and her team, in the coming weeks. Talks will focus on ensuring changes to the mortgage stress test qualifying rate, as announced in February, are implemented without delay. We will also discuss MPC’s pre-budget recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance, which can be found here.

The opinions expressed in this article reflect the viewpoints of the author and not necessarily those of Mortgage Professionals Canada and Canadian Mortgage Trends.

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Last modified: August 18, 2020

J.P. Boutros is the Director, Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs, at Mortgage Professionals Canada.