Alberta to challenge Canada regulator plan

Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:57am EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The province of Alberta said on Friday it will launch a court challenge of the Canadian government's move to create a national securities regulator, arguing the step intrudes on provincial jurisdiction.

The province said it will go the Alberta Court of Appeal to test the constitutional soundness of Ottawa's plan to create a single, national regulator. Currently, each Canadian province and territory has its own securities watchdog.

In a release, Iris Evans, Alberta's finance minister, said allowing Ottawa to take over an area of provincial responsibility could result in the federal government intruding into other areas currently regulated by the province.

The release also says the national securities regulation plan was an "unwarranted expansion of the federal trade and commerce constitutional power."

"Securities regulation is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, and acknowledging federal authority in this area would have implications in other areas of financial regulation that have historically been provincial responsibility," Evans said in her statement.

"The interests of Albertans and the Alberta capital market are best served by the existing regulatory structure. There is no need for this intrusion into provincial jurisdiction."

Alberta also plans to intervene in a similar challenge launched by the Quebec provincial government in the Quebec Court of Appeal.

The Alberta government said it decided to launch its legal challenge because a federal request before the Supreme Court of Canada, asking it to confirm that Ottawa has the power to regulate securities, could take months.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)