Alberta says won't join new markets watchdog without changes

Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:18pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp and Leah Schnurr

TORONTO (Reuters) - A newly proposed common Canadian securities regulator would have to be altered significantly for Alberta to sign on, the oil-rich province's finance minister said on Tuesday.

Last week, the Canadian federal government and two provinces - Ontario and British Columbia - unveiled plans to set up a common securities regulator as a first step to their goal of replacing the current patchwork of provincial agencies.

Ottawa has tried for decades to persuade Canada's 10, mostly reluctant, provinces and three territories to create a national regulator similar to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner told reporters in Toronto the proposed watchdog would give the federal government too much power over what has been a provincial jurisdiction.

"From Alberta's perspective, that agreement would have to change in a fairly significant way for us to be able to sign it," he said.

"When you look at providing one jurisdiction with an all-out veto like the federal government, in an area of jurisdiction they really don't have that kind of a right to play in, why would we sign on to that?"

He said it was unclear whether the proposal could be changed if other provinces decided to join.

Alberta's preference is an improvement to the so-called passport system, in which all of the provinces except Ontario participate. It allows a company seeking regulatory approvals in one province to automatically be approved in another.   Continued...

Alberta Minister of Finance Doug Horner (C) receives applause from his fellow MLAs following the budget speech in the house of the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber