Alberta NDP government rejects signing up with national securities regulator

The province's economy is "unique", says government



CALGARY – Alberta’s NDP government said Tuesday that it will not sign on to a national securities regulator because the province’s economy is “unique.”

Finance Minister Joe Ceci told a news conference that his government will maintain the province’s opposition to the plan.

“The size and scope of our energy sector is an area of pride for Albertans. It makes us unique,” Ceci said in Calgary. “A unique economy deserves a unique regulator.”

He said local regulators with “street-level knowledge” can better respond to regulatory challenges in real time.

“When regulators oversee highly localized and specialized markets, as they do in Alberta and many regions across Canada, it is more valuable to be local than thousands of kilometres away on Bay Street,” said Ceci.

Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Yukon have all signed on to the national securities regulator. Quebec remains opposed and has launched a legal challenge, arguing that the regulation of securities should remain within provincial jurisdiction.

When asked if Alberta would also push against the national regulator, Ceci said it was something he would consider.

If implemented, the national body would be expected to help oversee stock markets by policing abuses and securities fraud.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in January that the government would push ahead with creating the national securities regulator and work with the provinces that support it.

Canada is the only G20 country without a national securities regulator.

While Alberta won’t join the national regulator, Ceci said the province would continue to work to harmonize capital markets and that it supports the so-called passport system in which the decisions of one provincial commission are applicable in other provinces.

All provinces except Ontario have signed onto that “single window of access” system.

Ceci’s comments came as he announced the appointment of Stan Magidson as chairman and chief executive of the Alberta Securities Commission. Magidson said there is expertise on areas of energy regulations and disclosure that make Alberta best suited to regulate the province’s securities market.

“It’s having a regulator that really understands the nuances of its industry that I think informs the discussion,” said Magidson.

Ceci said Alberta has the second-largest capital market in Canada with roughly 25 per cent of the total.