Crawford panel finds support for single securities regulator

By Doug Watt | May 4, 2006 | Last updated on May 4, 2006
2 min read

A panel set up to produce an outline for a common securities regulator has released an initial report on the consultation process, revealing that many industry participants like the idea, as long as the head office is not in Toronto or Ottawa.

Last year, the Ontario government asked securities lawyer Purdy Crawford to create a panel to study the concept of a common securities regulator, with a single set of securities laws and one fee structure. The panel held roundtable discussions in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver earlier this year, attracting about 74 people.

“For the most part, reaction to the idea and the approach has been positive,” a summary report on the roundtable process states. “There were a few participants who spoke against the concept, but they were by far the minority.”

Still, many participants noted that discussions aimed at creating a single securities regulator date back 40 years and some believed the case for such a model has not been made as well as it could have been.

“There was a sense that the initiative needs a stronger over-arching mission that speaks to the globalization of the markets…and the need to ensure that Canada is an attractive market for capital.”

And while it was acknowledged that Canada has made some progress in the past few years on harmonization, some industry participants warned about the complexity of this undertaking and cautioned anyone from becoming overly optimistic.

The panel found a common securities regulator should reflect regional concerns and that no single province should dominate the governance structure. The federal government should be involved, the report notes, but should not take the lead.

There was also significant interest in the location of the main office of the proposed new regulator. Toronto would not be an acceptable choice, the panel said, as this would be viewed as nothing more than a re-branding of the Ontario Securities Commission. Perhaps surprisingly, no participants suggested Ottawa as a possible alternative location.

Participants agreed there needs to be “political will” to move the project forward and that the financial services industry cannot back the initiative without the help of investors. “The enforcement issue may be the most important to the retail investor.”

The Crawford panel’s final report is expected in early June.

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Doug Watt