(Adds sharp disagreement from Alberta; support from bankers'
By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA, July 9 Two more provinces, Saskatchewan
and New Brunswick, signed up on Wednesday for a plan to create a
national securities regulator in Canada, joining Ontario,
British Columbia and the federal government in a project
designed to end a patchwork of local regulation.
At a signing ceremony in Ottawa, federal Finance Minister
Joe Oliver called on Canada's other six provinces and three
territories to take part in the plan, which he called an
important nation-building project. "Canada has a problem," he
said, with 13 provincial and territorial regulators instead of
one common one.
"Today's agreement is a major step towards a single
regulator, national in scope, that will enhance Canada's capital
markets," he stated.
However, Wednesday's announcement provoked an angry response
from the powerful oil-producing province of Alberta, which
argued that it was making things worse.
"Today's announcement confirms our longstanding fear that
Ottawa will proceed with changes to Canada's securities
regulation system without the support of two of its largest
markets, Alberta and Quebec," Alberta Finance Minister Doug
Horner said in a statement.
"This will leave Canada with a more fractured system than
the one we have today. We do not believe that four provinces
constitute a critical mass of support for a change of this
The new regulator is scheduled to start up in the autumn of
2015. Draft legislation is scheduled to be published by Aug. 29
After decades of failed attempts to get all 10 provinces to
agree to a national regulator, Ottawa and the governments of
Ontario and British Columbia announced last 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 Columbia is home to a large number of the country's
The four provinces that have joined the project 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
- New Brunswick has the largest regulator in the Maritime
Two additional deputy chief regulator positions are being
created, representing Western and Eastern Canada, on top of
deputy chief regulators for each of Ontario and British
The four provinces represent three-quarters of the issuers
on the Toronto and Vancouver exchanges.
John Manley, head of the Canadian Council of Chief
Executives, said the new system would help small, innovative
companies gain access to the capital they need to expand, and
will boost competitiveness for all by eliminating duplication
and reducing red tape and compliance costs.
"For all these reasons, modernizing the existing patchwork
of regulators will strengthen Canada's attractiveness as a
destination for business investment," Manley said.
The Canadian Bankers Association also welcomed the news,
saying it was important for capital market efficiency.
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn; and Peter Galloway)