Horner Says Proposed Regulator Not in Alberta’s Interests
Alberta opposes the Canadian government’s proposal for a national securities regulator and is leading an effort by provincial ministers to craft an alternative, Doug Horner, the province’s finance minister said.
The “cooperative” national securities regulator proposed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his counterparts in Ontario and British Columbia on Sept. 19 would need to be amended to remove a federal veto over decisions and to reflect Alberta’s expertise in the oil and gas sector, Horner said in an interview in Toronto today.
“From Alberta’s perspective that agreement would have to change in a fairly significant way for us to be able to sign,” he said. “What I’m told is, ’There’s the agreement, sign it if you like it.’ I don’t like it. How much negotiation is there?”
Canada, home to the world’s sixth-largest stock market, unlike most developed-nation peers, has no national securities regulator. Flaherty, arguing the current system of 13 provincial agencies is more costly and reduces the country’s ability to regulate, has been pushing for a single model in the face of opposition from provinces such as Quebec and Alberta since the Conservative government came to power in 2006.
Horner said provincial finance ministers are working on their own proposal for regulatory reform and decided at a meeting yesterday in Quebec City to consider adopting some of the federal government’s ideas.
The Canadian constitution makes securities regulation a provincial matter. Flaherty’s plan proposes provinces formulate common legislation on regulation and pass it individually. The provinces at yesterday’s meeting were “90 percent” agreed on harmonized legislation, Horner said. The ministers also agreed to shift decision making on regulatory issues to a voting system, from consensus.
“The good thing about the federal government’s proposal is it has definitely spurred us to take some action,” Horner said.
Quebec officials have already rejected the federal government’s proposed “cooperative” plan and may mount a legal challenge. Horner said he believes it is possible to reach an agreement for securities regulation reform that would include Quebec. Alberta would challenge the proposed regulator in court if it imposes on provincial jurisdictions, Horner said.
“We would protect our interests, and right now the agreement that the Federal government, Ontario and B.C. signed is not in Alberta’s interest,” Horner said.
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