Canada national securities regulator attracts two more provinces

OTTAWA, July 9 Wed Jul 9, 2014 9:00am EDT

OTTAWA, July 9 (Reuters) - Saskatchewan and New Brunswick agreed on Wednesday to participate in an eventual national securities regulator in Canada, meaning that four of the nation's 10 provinces have signed on to the project designed to end a patchwork of local regulators.

"Today's agreement is a major step towards a single regulator, national in scope, that will enhance Canada's capital markets," federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver said in a statement.

He said it showed momentum in favor of the common regulator and called on the other six provinces and three territories to take part in the plan for the regulator, which is scheduled to start up in the autumn of 2015.

After decades of failed attempts to get all 10 provinces to agree to a national regulator, Ottawa and the governments Ontario and British Columbia announced in September that they would go it alone and set up a common capital markets watchdog, similar to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The hope was that more provinces would join over time and that the current patchwork system of regulators in each province and territory would be replaced with a national system that would be less costly for companies and governments.

Ontario is Canada's most populous province and home to Canada's financial services industry and largest stock market. British Colombia is home to a large number of the country's mining companies.

The four provinces represent 55 percent of Canadian market capitalization. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick represent only 3 percent to 4 percent of market cap but bring important advantages:

- Saskatchewan brings representation from the prairie provinces and has mining and oil companies, important in the Canadian economy

- New Brunswick has the largest regulator in the maritime provinces.

The four provinces represent three-quarters of the issuers on the Toronto and Vancouver exchanges.

Quebec and Alberta, which is home to Canada's oil sands, have been the most significant opponents of the plan. (Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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