Federal panel urges national securities regulator

Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:21pm EST
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada should push ahead with efforts to create a national securities regulator without necessarily waiting for consent from provinces opposed to the idea, a government-commissioned panel recommended on Monday.

The panel, created by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in February 2008, said the global financial crisis highlights the need for a single Canadian regulator that can move with greater speed to address financial instability.

Canada is the only developed nation in the world that does not have an overarching regulatory body that oversees capital markets.

Instead, it has a patchwork system of 13 provincial and territorial regulators that requires companies to file documents such as prospectuses and financial statements in each jurisdiction separately.

Provincial opposition, particularly from French-speaking Quebec, has traditionally hindered efforts to reform the system.

"It's time to give investors a stronger voice with better enforcement and quicker response. It's time to create a common securities regulator, applying one set of principles, one set of rules, one set of fees," the panel's chairman, Tom Hockin, told a business group in Vancouver after the report's release.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took up the cause of a single regulator when he started his job in 2006, arguing the current system adds unfair costs to investors.