New CSA chair touts uniform securities harmonization project

By Doug Watt | April 10, 2003 | Last updated on April 10, 2003
2 min read

(April 10, 2003) The new chair of the Canadian Securities Administrators has made it clear he wants to focus on harmonizing the country’s securities laws, not creating a single national regulator. Stephen Sibold, appointed as CSA chair this week, says his uniform securities legislation project is in the “right place at the right time” as politicians debate changes to the regulatory system.

In a speech on Tuesday in Calgary, Sibold said the final decision over who should have jurisdiction over securities regulation is a political one. But he strongly hinted that a national regulator won’t fly. “I suspect, as has happened over the past eight decades, that the politicians may discover that the single regulator concept may be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to implement,” he said.

However, Sibold, who also heads the Alberta Securities Commission, says he’s pleased that the decision makers within various governments are now taking up the challenge of ways to improve the country’s regulatory system, pointing to the federally appointed “wise persons committee” and a parallel effort at the provincial level, involving Alberta, B.C., Quebec and Ontario. “As they ponder this thorny and vital issue, the USL project looms, in my opinion, as an achievable, practical and significant improvement to securities regulation in Canada,” he said.

The USL project aims to streamline and harmonize securities laws. Among other things, it would permit a CSA member to delegate regulatory decision-making to another jurisdiction, allowing one-stop shopping for market participants, Sibold said. It would also call for a passport-type registration system, under which a registered advisor would be able to work in multiple jurisdictions.

Sibold hopes to have a new uniform securities act ready by the end of year. Provincial legislatures would be asked to approve the act the following spring. “This is an ambitious project,” Sibold admitted. “However, I believe that it is entirely achievable.”

The Investment Funds Institute of Canada is preparing its response to the USL proposals.

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  • IFIC legal counsel Stacey Shein says the fund industry association strongly supports the CSA’s goal of creating a uniform securities act. But she told there are certain aspects of the proposal IFIC believes would undermine genuine uniformity.

    One of those is the allowance of local rules, Shein says. The USL draft states that local rules will be exceptional and infrequent and based only on local policy imperatives. But Shein says there are too many instances where jurisdictions could divert from the USL and create their own rules.

    The IFIC draft is expected to be finalized by the end of the month.

    Tell us your thoughts on the uniform securities legislation project. Is harmonization the solution or would a single national securities regulator be a better option? Share your opinions on this subject in the “Free for All” forum of the Talvest Town Hall on

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    Doug Watt