Economist & Politician
Born in Peniche.
Lived in Lourenço Marques.
Based in Montreal.
Quebec is trying to position itself as a point of connection between Europe and America. We are the most European of North Americans, and Portugal maybe wants to be the most American of Europeans. And so there are interesting parallels between the two societies – Carlos Leitão.
Carlos Leitão, a native of Peniche, is the first Portuguese-Canadian to become a Member of the National Assembly in Quebec, where he was the Minister of Finance under Premier Philippe Couillard between 2014 and 2022. Before entering politics, in 2008, Leitão was ranked second in the world among economic forecasters by the Bloomberg News.
Carlos Leitão was born in 1959, in Peniche, a fishing town in central mainland Portugal. In 1973, he left with his parents and four siblings to Lourenço Marques, Mozambique, where his father worked as an accountant. While there, he began a bachelors degree in economic studies, but then the Carnations Revolution happened. That same year, before the mass exodus of the retornados started, his family returned to Portugal. Leitão tried to continue his studies at the University of Lisbon but the political instability during the revolutionary process prevented him. In 1975, him and his family immigrated to Canada and settled in Montreal. Leitão continued his studies at McGill University and finished his bachelors in 1980, then followed it with an MBA.
After completing his studies, Leitão worked as a teller with the Royal Bank of Canada. In 1984, he moved into the bank’s economics department, where he worked for the next two decades, eventually becoming a senior economist. In 2008, he moved to the Banque Laurentienne where he became chief economist. That same year, he was ranked second in the world among economic forecasters by Bloomberg News.
In 2013, Leitão decided to enter politics and joined the Quebec Liberal Party, in large part moved by his opposition to the Parti Québécois’ proposed secular charter of values. The following year, he ran in the riding of Robert Baldwin, in Montreal’s West Island and won with 87% of the votes, becoming the first Portuguese-Canadian in the Quebec National Assembly. A few weeks after his party’s victory, Premier Philippe Couillard appointed him Minister of Finance. He was re-elected in 2018, with 74% of the votes and kept his cabinet position until the end of his mandate.
In 2022, Carlos announced that he would leave politics, keeping a promise to his family not to seek more than two mandates.
Hora dos Portugueses