Alberta Finance Minister “surprised” at lack of consultation on securities regulation

A statement issued from Alberta Treasury Board President and Minister of Finance Doug Horner on September 19, 2013 expressed surprise that a new cooperative common securities regulation was not discussed with his person prior to being announced.

“I am only learning of this agreement now and will need time to review it before understanding it’s full implications,” Horner said in the email, “I am surprised that all the provinces were not consulted on this proposal before it was announced.”

An announcement by Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty September 19 in Ottawa stated an agreement between British Columbia, Ontario and Canada to establish a cooperative capital markets regulatory system.

Regulation features

An online briefing of the Ottawa announcement on the Department of Finance website notes that the system -which it invites all provinces to participate in – will “better protect investors, enhance Canada’s financial services sector, support efficient capital markets and manage systemic risk.”

The system will feature a “single regulator administering a single set of regulations and be operationally independent and self-funded through a single set of fees,” and will be directed by an independent board of directors with “broad capital markets-related expertise.”

Canada’s current system of regulation has been described as a ‘patchwork’ method of oversight, and the nation is the only modern industrialzed power that doesn’t have a National regulatory body at present.

Mixed response

While Ontario and British Columbia are on board with the project, Quebec and Alberta have approached the announcement with  a less-than-positive response.

While Quebec Finance Minster Nicolas Marceau reinforced the Supreme Court ruling that “normal securities activities are of provincial jurisdiction,” Alberta has voiced similar reticence to see itself as part of this new initiative.

In a press conference in Calgary, Premier Alison Redford said that the unique status of Alberta’s oil and gas resources, as well as junior companies, meant that much was to be considered before joining.

“The Alberta Securities Commission has been very important to our economic development,” she told reporters in Calgary on Thursday, “we need to be able to see that protected.”

Finance Minister Horne expressed similar caution toward joining the system.

“Alberta remains committed to an agenda of aggressive economic growth and job creation, which includes an effective and efficient regulatory system that meets the needs of all the provinces and investors,” he said, “but let me be clear – I will continue to protect Alberta’s interests and ensure that decisions affecting our province are made in Alberta.”

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