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Business Newsmaker of the year

Whether as a rising star on the world stage or a central banker under scrutiny amid suggestions of political impropriety at home, it was hard to ignore Mark Carney in 2012.

Canada's omnipresent Bank of Canada governor was constantly making headlines.

If he wasn't hectoring households for not saving enough, he was blasting business leaders for saving too much, or weighing in on the contentious issue of whether Canada's economy was showing symptoms of Dutch disease.

As well, he continued to press global financial institutions to reform in the wake of the carnage they caused in triggering the crisis of 2008, warning that as head of the Swiss-based Financial Stability Board he intends to use all his powers to make sure they do.

And then there was that head-turning job switch -- the first non-Brit to be named governor of the Bank of England in the storied institution's 318-year history. The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called the Canadian the "outstanding central banker of his generation."

Even admirers back home wondered if Mark Carney was worth such adulation.

Recent revelations that he may have entertained thoughts of dumping one of the more exalted and non-partisan public offices to jump into the ring as a Liberal leadership contestant have elicited a different kind of head-turning, and raised questions about his judgment.

Even before that recent media splash, the central banker was the clear choice in the annual survey of editors and broadcasters for The Canadian Press Business Newsmaker of the Year.

The governor pulled in 59 per cent of votes, compared to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's eight, and nine for Pierre Duhaime, the disgraced former head of SNC-Lavalin. Second spot, at 17 per cent of the votes, wasn't even a person, per se. It went to "The Canadian in Debt."

"Canada's top exports: Lumber, oil, water, wheat, and Mark Carney," explained Rick Hughes, business editor of the Hamilton Spectator, for his choice.

"His role as bank governor is noted for his good counsel and stability, and Britain's banking system will be well-served under his leadership. He offers the best that Canada's develops: stability, democracy, and one other thing ... he's a hockey player."

The annual survey also named personal debt as the top Business Story of 2012 -- not surprising in a year when the household-debt-to-income ratio rose to a record high of 164.6 per cent.

While personal debt garnered 24 per cent of the vote, CNOOC buying Calgary's Nexen for $15.1 billion came in at a close 20, and Research In Motion's bumpy ride to releasing the BlackBerry 10 operating system and devices in January garnered 19 per cent.

The Canadian Press


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