||(August 19, 2004)
Persuading Alberta to support a single securities regulator may be the
only way to move the reform process forward, says Purdy Crawford. The
creation of a single regulator was the main recommendation of the
Crawford committee's five-year review of Ontario's securities laws,
released last year.
Ontario's standing committee on finance and economic affairs is holding
public hearings on the Crawford report this week in Toronto.
"Ideally, one regulator would exist with
a strong regional base, created by the federal government, the provinces
and the territories," Crawford told the committee on Thursday morning.
However, it's unlikely Ottawa will provide leadership and it's up to the
provinces to get the ball rolling, he added.
"Even if two or three provinces come
together, the feds will get on side," he said. "The key is Alberta. If
Alberta and Ontario say they're going to have one commission, I think it
will come together over time."
But he conceded it won't be easy
convincing Alberta to join up with Ontario, noting that the province's
politicians are "logically suspicious of what we [Ontario] are up to."
Although Alberta's business community may
be supportive, Crawford says Ontario will have to bend over backwards to
accommodate the views of other provinces, particularly Alberta.
Crawford's 300-page report made dozens of
recommendations regarding securities law in Ontario, but the issue of a
single securities regulator has been the dominant topic of discussion thus
far at the committee hearings.
Yesterday, OSC chair David Brown said
that Canada "simply cannot afford the duplication and overlap of 13
securities regulators when every country Canadians compete with has a
IDA president Joe Oliver pointed to the
"urgent need for decisive action and substantive improvement" to the
current regulatory structure, though he did not explicitly endorse any of
the reform models currently under consideration, such as the passport
system, a national commission based in Ottawa or a national agency
governed by the provinces.
In his presentation, Eugene Ellmen, head
of the Social Investment Organization, also supported the call for some
kind of national securities commission.
"The current system of harmonization
through the Canadian Securities Administrators is fraught with difficulty
and complicated," Ellmen said. "This is keeping Canada behind on a number
of issues, such as corporate governance, social responsibility and
IFIC president Tom Hockin re-iterated his
association's support for a single securities regulator. "Our industry
needs consistent rules applied across Canada and we need it yesterday.
Piecemeal reforms and incremental changes are not enough."
"Multiple costs make the Canadian market
less attractive," he added. "There's no justification for a fragmented
Still, not all politicians serving on the
standing committee are pleased with the focus on the single regulator
issue. "We shouldn't waste too much time on this," said New Democrat MPP
Michael Prue. "I think a national regulator is a great idea but this will
be taken over by the federal government and we may not see it in our
Filed by Doug Watt, Advisor.ca,