Bill Morneau emerges from Liberal scandal to make pitch for OECD's top job

Morneau told POLITICO in an interview on Friday that the OECD will be gripped by the international pandemic response – and he argued that his Canadian experience was directly relevant to the job.

“I don’t think anyone can step into the role of general secretary in 2021 without realizing that the pandemic will be central,” Morneau said. “I want to immediately focus on how we can help understand the implications around the world and develop guidelines that can address the challenges ahead.”

A look at his résumé: Morneau, who has planned meetings with OECD ambassadors in Paris from Saturday, announced his sales pitch.

Regarding the OECD, he said an immediate focus will be the heated conversation about taxing digital giants, which include Facebook, Google and Amazon. The talks that led to tariff threats by the Trump administration have so far failed to bring a deal.

Morneau, who was involved in the negotiations, said he could benefit from the relationships he had cultivated over the years. This includes a close friendship with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Morneau insists he sees a digital tax landing zone.

“We have already done a lot of work,” he said. “There are possible solutions on the table. They are of course not all the same. I think the point is to realize that American interests will be different because most of these big companies are based in the United States. “

His resume will highlight his work in establishing a national carbon pricing program, getting provinces to agree to expand Canada’s retirement plan, measures to promote women’s opportunities and the Trudeau government’s vision for “inclusive growth” .

Morneau also plans to promote his experience in global forums such as the G-7, G-20, IMF, World Bank and OECD.

The controversy surrounding his resignation: Morneau suddenly resigned in a political storm last month.

He was embroiled in the scandal after failing to back off a cabinet decision to grant WE Charity a no-bid contract to administer a $ 900 million student volunteer scholarship program in connection with Canada’s pandemic.

Amid the controversy, Morneau announced to a parliamentary committee that he had not paid more than $ 41,000 in travel expenses for trips he, his wife and one of their daughters took with WE in 2017. Morneau, who has a daughter he worked for. We insisted he had only just realized he hadn’t paid the travel expenses.

When asked if he believed WE controversies could affect his OECD offer, Morneau said he was pretty sure he had made a mistake and should have apologized in retrospect.

“When people look at the broader nature of what we have achieved and, in my case, my focus on the community, including, as you know, significant philanthropy over a very long period of time, they will find that it was an unfortunate part a much broader plan implemented to make a real difference, ”he said.

Morneau’s Reason For Leaving Canadian Politics: He announced on Friday that the OECD was on his mind long before he left Trudeau’s cabinet.

“I had thought for a while about the OECD, For at least months he wondered whether this was possible, ”said Morneau, who also repeated his earlier statement that he had already informed Trudeau that he did not want to run for a third time.

Support from Canada: At around the time of his resignation, a rift opened between him and Trudeau, according to media reports, but a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office claimed Morneau had his full confidence.

Morneau said he has already received high-profile help from his old boss with references.

“He is very supportive of me,” Morneau said of Trudeau, who promised that Canada would support the OECD candidacy of its former finance minister. “He telephoned leaders in other countries. And that is an important part of my candidacy. “

Morneau is also receiving assistance from the federal government in the form of assistance from Global Affairs Canada and phone calls from Secretary of State François-Philippe Champagne to his international counterparts to promote his offer.

The OECD opponents: The member states of the OECD will elect a new Secretary General before March 1 for a five-year term beginning June 1, 2021.

Morneau faces tough competition. The incumbent, Mexican Angel Gurría, is fighting for a fourth term in this role. Other candidates are the Swedish EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and the US candidate Christopher Liddell, a Trump advisor who held senior positions at General Motors and Microsoft.

Morneau’s thoughts on Trudeau’s new recovery plan: On Wednesday the Prime Minister presented his Speech from the Throne, a high-level document similar to the State of the Union Address in the United States.

He said it was important for the speech, which made numerous costly pledges to address the pandemic and support the recovery, to focus on the urgency of the health crisis.

About Canada’s New Treasury Secretary: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland replaced Morneau as the main figure in Canada’s response to the economic crisis.

“I was thrilled to see Chrystia as the first female finance minister,” he said. “I think this is a great decision by the Prime Minister. Apparently she has had good experiences as a minister, both in international trade and as [foreign] Minister who she can involve in many questions. “

Morneau said he missed sitting at the table with his colleagues.

“Five years was a long time to become finance minister,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. I think we made a huge difference. But there will always be a time when you are ready to take the next steps. And I’m ready for that now. “

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