OTTAWA, April 30 Canada's Conservative
government will make an announcement soon on progress in its
push to create a national securities regulator, Finance Minister
Joe Oliver said on Wednesday, and it could include more backing
for the initiative from the country's provinces.
Regulation of financial markets in Canada is a provincial,
not a federal responsibility. Last September, after decades of
failed attempts to get all 10 provinces to agree to a national
regulator, Ottawa and the governments of the provinces of
Ontario and British Columbia announced 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 in over time and
that the current patchwork system of regulators in each province
and territory would be replaced with a national system. There
have been no visible signs of progress yet.
"There has been progress but it's been behind the scenes,"
Oliver told reporters in Ottawa. "I expect fairly soon that
there will be news on this matter."
Oliver would not elaborate when asked whether he was
referring to a report that the government would unveil draft
legislation for the regulator on Wednesday, or if he would
announce another province was coming on board.
"Well that's the nature of an announcement. You make it when
you make it, but it could include both," he said.
The regulatory body would be voluntary and cooperative,
since the Supreme Court has ruled that Ottawa cannot
unilaterally impose a new system on the provinces. The
International Monetary Fund has long criticized Canada for its
fragmented regulatory system.
The western oil-producing province of Alberta said earlier
this month it was working to build support among other provinces
for an alternative to Ottawa's plan, which would leave
day-to-day regulation to the provinces but include a national
enforcement agency and adjudicator tribunal based in Toronto.
Oliver said any province that opts out of the national body
would still be able to cooperate with other provinces, as most
do now under a "passport" system, whereby a company incorporated
in one province is automatically recognized in another.
"Those provinces, if there are any, that decide not to
participate will still have an opportunity to cooperate with a
cooperative body and, as they have been in the past, cooperate
with each other," he said.
(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Peter Galloway)