Why would Liberals oppose a single securities regulator?


A classic way to sum up the historic Liberal brand strength in federal politics is that voters have tended to turn to the party when the ballot question is something along the lines of, ‘Who speaks for Canada?’

That latent advantage might seem greater than ever when the Liberals’ main adversary, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is dogged by a personal history of showing more passion for respecting provincial purviews than building national institutions.

So why would the Liberals put themselves on the wrong side of the no-brainer debate over setting up a national securities regulator? Is there a more obvious example of a policy issue on which Ottawa should use its clout to rid Canada of economic balkanization?

Yet there was Liberal MP Denis Coderre, in Question Period today, lashing out at the government over its plan to act on the sensible recommendation of the Tom Hockin panel, delivered earlier this month, to set up a national stock market regulator.

Previously, Liberals had hedged their bets on the issue, saying they liked the idea, but thought provinces shouldn’t be forced to go along with it. In fact, the Tories pledge to make participation voluntary. That didn’t stop Coderre, though, from asserting that the plan tramples anyway on provincial jurisdiction.

How? Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba, the provinces that don’t like the concept, will apparently be free to maintain their separate regulatory regimes.  Unless, that is, their real concern is that once a national regulatory body comes into existence, the new system will be so appealing, to companies and investors alike, that stubbornly remaining outside it will soon become a practical impossibility.

Whatever the nuances of the debate, it seems strange that Michael Ignatieff would want to start off as Liberal leader defending status quo divisions in the Canadian economy, rather than backing what looks plainly like a step toward greater national unity. And isn’t national unity an indispensable value for the Liberal brand he is trying to rejuvenate?

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Why would Liberals oppose a single securities regulator?

  1. This is a disgrace, does Ignatieff stand for nothing? Nationalist votes are how he will build a “spine of national citizenship?”

    • He’s just throwing chaff to deflect Duceppe’s appeal to uppity Quebecois.

  2. If he’s smart, the answer is “we suspect that a national regulator wouldn’t consitutionally eliminate the provincial regulators, so all it would be doing is creating a second layer of paperwork – something nobody wants.”

  3. Is that the only inconsistency you found in the Liberal stance ? If you call standing on one foot while trying to wrap the other leg across your eyes a stance.

  4. Because Iggy thinks this nonsense is the right way to go? Because he’s beholden to a clown like Coderre?

  5. Canadians should be thrilled that the national regulator will have the power to order restitution and an Investor Protetion Fund to pay compenstaion to victims of investment fraud and wrongdoing. The industry and the legal system frustrate vicitims fo fraud and wrongdoing who seek justice.
    Canadians are losing an estimated $20 billion per year due to investment fraud and wrongdoing. It will be a lot worse in 2008 as the efects of wrongdoing will be magnified by the market downturn.
    We believed it improable that Quebec with its AMF would participate in a national regulator, but the opt-out provision should enable Government to proceed.
    Anyone who is against the national regulator is against ordinary savers and investors.

  6. Canadians have been losing their savings due to investment fraud and wrongdoing at an alarming rate, estimated by some at $20 billion per year. It has been difficult for savers and investors with an issue to know where to go or what to do. It seemed that civil litigation was the only option and those who suffer life-altering financial loss do not have the financial, physical and mental, and time resources to deal with such an issue.

    The Expert Panel for Securities Regulation issued their Final report January 13, 2009, which included the following recommendation:
    “We recommend the following to improve investor complaint-handling and redress mechanisms:
    • a securities regulator with the power to order compensation in the case of a violation of securities law so that the investor would not be required to resort to the courts;
    • establishment of an investor compensation fund funded by industry to allow the securities regulator to directly compensate investors for a violation of securities law; and
    • mandatory participation of registrants in the dispute resolution”

    The regulators today may fine the perpetrators but theses fines go to the regulators and the regulators generally fail to make the perpetrators pay restitution. A few provinces can order restitution but most victims must go to court to seek justice even when the regulators have determined there is fraud.

    The Government has made provision in the 2009 Budget to implement the Expert Panel’s recommendations. It’s time that all Canadians receive equal investor protection and that Government makes provision to ensure the restitution of victims of investment fraud and wrongdoing from an Investor protection Fund that is funded by the investment industry.

    Canadians want all Members of Parliament to support the transition to a national regulator as recommended by the Expert Panel, but it should follow the Quebec model where one Authority regulates banks, insurance companies, fund companies and dealers so that small investors will have one point of contact and can expect to receive just and timely handling of their complaint and prompt restitution.