Government reports progress on national regulator

Despite little news in yesterday’s budget, the federal government is still keen to establish a national securities regulator, and bureaucrats are making progress on the measure.

The Conservatives signalled their continued enthusiasm for a single regulator in last fall’s throne speech, notes well-connected Conservative John Capobianco, senior partner of public affairs at Fleishman Hillard.

In it, the government said not having a national regulator defied common sense, adding that it would work with “willing jurisdictions to set up a co-operative regulatory system for securities and capital markets.”

It was also mentioned in the 2013 budget, at which time the government said it would legislate it on its own if provinces didn’t co-operate.

In 2011, the Supreme Court scrapped a government bill to create a single regulator. The court said that, while the provinces are responsible for the day-to-day regulation of the markets under the Constitution, there’s a place for the federal government to collect data and protect against system-wide risks.

At this point, “it’s a question of how they do it,” Capobianco says.

The Feds are now working with Ontario and B.C. to draft provincial and federal legislation to create a single regulator for those two provinces. The new regulator would be headquartered in Toronto and have offices in each province.

This January, the federal government—with B.C. and Ontario—announced legislation would be ready by April 30, 2014.

“Substantial progress has been made in drafting this legislation,” the federal finance department said in a statement. “We are pleased with the significant amount of high-quality work produced to date.”

Draft regulations are scheduled for June 30, while integration agreements are slated for Aug. 29.

The remaining provinces and territories haven’t signed on to the initiative. Quebec, in particular, has voiced strong opposition to a national regulator.

Ottawa says it is currently talking to other provinces and territories about joining in and wants to have the single regulator working by July 1, 2015.

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