With my title of Senator, one may have thought that I was an intruder in this conference, but I assure you I was in my element considering I studied economics at Western and McGill and taught economics for over 20 years at UQAM. Though, my positions on monetary policy may differ from others as my economic perspective has been shaped by my experience as a labour economist and as a parliamentarian.
More specifically, my work in managing active labour market programs in Quebec in the ’90s convinced me that in real life, monetary policy matters and it matters tremendously. Monetary policy affects the everyday life of many people as well as businesses. Its consequences may be long-lasting and may affect the income stream of individuals and businesses for many years after its implementation. It also affects productivity, the future potential of the economy and the distribution of income. Theorists may argue it is neutral in the long-run and this may be the case in some theoretical general equilibrium models. But as Keynes once said: In the long run we are all dead. As a parliamentarian, I would add it is the present that counts most.
That being said, let’s focus on the topic of the conference which is the future framework of monetary policy. I entered the conference with a strong preference for the dual mandate. After listening to all participants, I remain convinced that the dual mandate is the option for the 2021 agreement between the Bank of Canada and the Government of Canada. As demonstrated by the daily polls initiated by the organizers, I am not alone in this line of thought.