Strong support for national regulator

By John Powell | June 16, 2010 | Last updated on June 16, 2010
2 min read readers are ready to welcome a national watchdog. When it comes to the proposed plan for a national securities regulator, they strongly support the federal government.

In an poll published on May 27, 78% of the respondents said they back Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s initiative. Only 13% come out against the plan, while 7% are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

Breaking the poll down geographically, the majority of the votes originated from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Residents of British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick made up the next largest block of voters.

Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba have strongly voiced their objection to Flaherty’s plan. Alberta and Quebec have launched challenges in their provincial appeal courts while a coalition of Quebec’s business leaders have claimed thousands of jobs will be lost in the province if the plan takes effect.

“We will keep up the fight in the legal arena. We will keep up the fight in the political arena. We will keep up the fight in the economic arena,” said Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand in the provincial legislature.

Alberta Finance Minister Ted Morton has categorized the plan as a power grab. “I do sometimes fear that our proposed ‘Canadian way’ of securities regulation will only put a new name on the existing regional regulators and regulatory attitudes,” Rebecca Cowdery, a partner at securities law firm Borden Ladner Gervais, told Cowdery is not sure the model of separate regional offices and separate provincial regulators will improve upon the current system.

Currently, Canada remains the only G20 country without a national securities regulator. There are 13 securities commissions in Canada and this elaborate structure has been blamed for much of the stock fraud that has occurred. Flaherty maintains the new regulatory body will have strong regional offices, would be more adept to deal with fraud cases and be far more efficient.

“I’m quite pleased with a number of aspects of the proposed plan,” Ian Russell, president and CEO of the Investment Industry Association of Canada told “The measures to strengthen the enforcement are very positive.”

Russell added the proposed Canadian Securities Act will improve the powers of evidence gathering for investigators. “Within the regulatory division of the single regulator, the enforcement department is linked very closely to the police [RCMP] and that is going to streamline criminal investigations.”

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has suggested the headquarters of the agency be located in Toronto. McGuinty termed Toronto the Wayne Gretzky of Canada’s financial and business world.

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    John Powell