Federal panel urges national securities regulator

Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:12pm 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 said the global financial crisis highlights the need for a single Canadian regulator that can move with greater speed to address financial instability.

"This is a report that speaks the language of modern financial markets," said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who created the panel in February 2008..

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 Vancouver business group.

Critics of the current provincial-regulation system, including Flaherty, argue it adds unfair costs to investors and makes it harder from companies to raise capital.   Continued...