Alberta wants securities regulation to stay with provinces

Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:58pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Alberta wants individual provinces to retain their authority over Canadian securities regulation, a position that makes federal attempts to create a single, national body more difficult, although Alberta is willing to make some adjustments in the current system.

The province's finance minister, Doug Horner, said Alberta was happy to discuss greater cooperation with Ottawa, especially in the realm of systemic risk. But the energy-rich province, which is seen as a key player in creating the critical mass of support that would pave the way for a national regulator, is not about to dismantle its own financial watchdog.

"We're talking about a collaborative system. It isn't that we're going to go to a common securities regulator and have one office somewhere," Horner said in an interview on Wednesday. "That's been pretty much off the table for provinces for some time."

Canada, alone among the Group of Seven rich industrialized countries, has a network of 13 provincial and territorial securities regulators rather than a single national body.

International investors view the system as inefficient and prone to duplication, especially for a company seeking to raise capital in several provinces.

But provinces like Alberta and independence-minded Quebec don't want change. The Supreme Court of Canada backed the provincial line in a 2011 ruling that said a previous plan to impose a national regulator was unconstitutional.

In his 2013 budget, released earlier this month, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Ottawa would still prefer to cooperate with the provinces to establish a common watchdog.

If that didn't work, he would push ahead with legislation giving Ottawa powers to curb systemic risk in capital markets.   Continued...