Investors Scrutinizing the Regulators

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Ontario to look at splitting OSC while pushing for single national regulator
11:21 PM EDT Oct 18

GARY NORRIS

TORONTO (CP) - The Ontario Securities Commission's days may be numbered as both police officer and judge in cases of financial-market wrongdoing.

An Ontario legislature committee on Monday unanimously endorsed the provincial government's push for a single national securities regulator, and also supported a recommendation that the OSC's "adjudicative function" be separated from its investigative work and other tasks.

The all-party report from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs "is signalling that the Ontario government is right to be taking a leadership role on a move to a common regulator for Canada," stated Management Board Chair Gerry Phillips, the Ontario minister responsible for financial regulation.

"Ontario will continue to work with other provinces and territories to move toward a common securities regulator for Canada."

However, moves to unite the country's tangle of 13 provincial and territorial securities commissions have been opposed by Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, which support streamlining of regulations but insist that regional concerns must not be overridden by a single central commission.

If there is no significant progress toward establishing a single regulator over the next year, the OSC - which at present both investigates cases and runs the quasi-judicial panels that hear them - will join the government to explore severing the adjudicative function.

"We will be pleased to work in partnership with the government to fashion a solution that is in the best interests of investors and market participants," stated OSC chairman David Brown.

The legislature committee "confirmed that there is no evidence of bias in OSC proceedings," Phillips said, "but the government will consider this recommendation with an open mind. We will address this issue in a way that does not compromise the effectiveness of our regulatory system."

Another recommendation in the committee report is that the government and the commission develop better means for wronged investors to pursue restitution in a timely and affordable way.

Said Brown: "Our goal is to ensure that investors have access to an effective restitution process that is easily accessible and affordable."