Alberta to test ‘constitutional soundness’ of national securities regulator

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is taking its fight against Ottawa’s plans to create a national securities regulator to the province’s Court of Appeal in order to test the “constitutional soundness” of the move.

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is taking its fight against Ottawa’s plans to create a national securities regulator to the province’s Court of Appeal in order to test the “constitutional soundness” of the move.

“We believe this intrusion into this important area of provincial jurisdiction will set a precedent for the federal government to intrude in other critical areas of provincial jurisdiction, and we must take bold action now to defend against that,” Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans said in a statement Friday.

Ottawa said in October it planned to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether it would be constitutional to have one body oversee Canada’s capital markets.

But Alberta is pressing ahead with the provincial case because it could be many months before the Supreme Court process begins, the statement said.

Quebec has also been vehemently opposed to the idea of a single securities regulator, and has filed a similar challenge in that province’s court of appeal.

The Alberta government plans to intervene in support of the Quebec government in that case as well. It said joining forces will allow both provinces to share resources and send a “stronger message of opposition” to the federal plans.

Supporters of a centralized regulatory system, which exists in most countries, say it would provide more stringent oversight, better efficiency and lower costs for companies seeking to list on Canadian stock markets.

Opponents point out that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t been effective in curbing white collar crime in that country.

They also say a regulator should know all the ins and outs of a province’s main industries. For instance, an Alberta regulator would be better suited to oversee energy companies than a Toronto-based body.

“The interests of Albertans and the Alberta capital market are best served by the existing regulatory structure. There is no need for this intrusion into provincial jurisdiction,” Evans stated.