TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada plans to seek the opinion of the country's highest court on whether Parliament has the authority to put in place a single national securities regulator -- normally an area of provincial jurisdiction.
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement on Friday that the Ottawa will submit draft legislation to the Supreme Court of Canada as part of the process. The draft to set up a federal regime for securities regulation is to be ready in the spring.
"The government strongly believes that Parliament has the constitutional authority to enact a comprehensive federal securities act and is initiating preparatory steps in that direction," Nicholson said.
Ottawa is also working with the provinces and territories to develop federal securities legislation that would allow voluntary participation by the various regions.
Canada is the only major developed economy that does not have a single national regulator to oversee capital markets -- a situation that has come under increased scrutiny during the global financial crisis.
Currently, each of the 13 provinces and territories has is own regulatory regime.
The provinces of Ontario and British Columbia are the most vocally in favor of a national securities regulator, while Quebec and Alberta have spoken out against the idea.
Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson