OTTAWA Dec 20 Canada's Conservative government
appointed a former investment banker to head the country's
housing agency on Friday, a sign Ottawa is ramping up the
agency's financial expertise as it seeks to rein in its massive
mortgage insurance business.
Evan Siddall will become president and chief executive of
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) on Jan. 1 for a
Siddall worked most recently as an adviser on financial
markets and financial stability to the governor of the Bank of
Canada. Before that he held various positions in investment
banking and management, including stints at Goldman Sachs and Co
and BMO Nesbitt Burns.
"Mr. Siddall brings to the position extensive leadership and
senior management experience," Employment Minister Jason Kenney
said in a statement.
"His proven financial and capital markets expertise will be
of tremendous value to CMHC."
Most mortgage insurance in Canada is provided by CMHC and
backed by the federal government. In the context of the heated
housing market of the past several years and record-high
household debt, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said he is
concerned about the rapid expansion of CMHC's role in the
mortgage insurance business and taxpayers' exposure to that
Flaherty gave new powers to oversee CMHC to Canada's banking
regulator last year. Also, Flaherty has said he is closely
monitoring the agency's insurance for high-risk mortgages as
well as its portfolio insurance business.
He has gone as far as saying he would like to ultimately
privatize CMHC's mortgage insurance business, leaving the agency
to perform its traditional role of ensuring affordable housing
for Canadians. But most analysts expect the government to
introduce only incremental changes to control CMHC and foster a
greater role for private insurers.
Siddall's appointment follows that of another former Wall
Street banker, Robert Kelly, who was named CMHC's chairman in