| TORONTO, Sept 24
TORONTO, Sept 24 A newly proposed common
Canadian securities regulator would have to be altered
significantly for Alberta to sign on, the oil-rich province's
finance minister said on Tuesday.
Last week, the Canadian federal government and two provinces
- Ontario and British Columbia - unveiled plans to set up a
common securities regulator as a first step to their goal of
replacing the current patchwork of provincial agencies.
Ottawa has tried for decades to persuade Canada's 10, mostly
reluctant, provinces and three territories to create a national
regulator similar to the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner told reporters in
Toronto the proposed watchdog would give the federal government
too much power over what has been a provincial jurisdiction.
"From Alberta's perspective, that agreement would have to
change in a fairly significant way for us to be able to sign
it," he said.
"When you look at providing one jurisdiction with an all-out
veto like the federal government, in an area of jurisdiction
they really don't have that kind of a right to play in, why
would we sign on to that?"
He said it was unclear whether the proposal could be changed
if other provinces decided to join.
Alberta's preference is an improvement to the so-called
passport system, in which all of the provinces except Ontario
participate. It allows a company seeking regulatory approvals in
one province to automatically be approved in another.
Horner said a group of provincial finance ministers that met
in Quebec City on Monday will continue working on their own
proposals. He noted that he had not had "much conversation" with
federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
"The good thing about the federal government proposal is it
definitely spurred us into taking action," said Horner, noting
that the group had agreed to speed up decision-making.
The federal government hopes the new securities regulator
will improve Canada's reputation for being lax on white-collar
Recently, regulators were criticized for their oversight of
Sino-Forest Corp, one of several North American-listed companies
with Chinese operations whose accounting disclosure practices
came under scrutiny.
Critics also point to the infamous Bre-X scandal of the late
1990s, in which investors lost billions of dollars after a
massive gold find turned out to have been a fake. No one was
ever charged with fraud, and the lone figure who was charged
with insider trading was acquitted.