New Ontario stocks watchdog may scrap his own job

Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:22pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - An energy official and former federal judge is set to be the next head of Canada's largest securities commission, with the mandate to help create a national regulator that may make his job irrelevant.

Howard Wetston, named on Wednesday to head the Ontario Securities Commission, was vice-chair of the organization from 1999-2003 and is a former director of the federal competition bureau. He currently heads the Ontario Energy Board, which regulates electricity and natural gas.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who nominated Wetston, said Wetston will play a proactive role as Canada seeks to create a national securities regulator to succeed 13 separate provincial and territorial institutions.

"He's exactly the type of strong intellect, forceful personality who I believe is committed to a common securities regulator that we need to have there," Duncan told Reuters.

Ontario, home to Canada's main stock exchange and most of its financial sector, wants the new securities watchdog to be based in Toronto. But Alberta and Quebec, fearful of losing influence, are fighting the very concept of a national regulator with the Supreme Court of Canada.

"We also believe very strongly that (Wetston) will protect the interests of Ontario in the ongoing evolution of the common securities regulator that's under attack by Quebec and Alberta," said Duncan.

Wetston, 63, will replace David Wilson, whose five-year term expires this month.

"Howard knows the OSC, the quality of its people and its work as an effective securities regulator," Wilson said in a statement. "I offer my best wishes to him in the role of guiding the OSC through the immediate challenges of regulating the province's capital markets."   Continued...

<p>Howard Wetston appears in this undated handout photo. Ontario has nominated the head of the province's energy board, a former Federal Court judge, to chair Canada's largest securities regulator, the provincial government confirmed in a statement on Wednesday. REUTERS/Ontario Ministry of Finance/Handout</p>