Albertan slated to lead opposition to single securities regulator

Bill Rice, chief of Alberta’s securities commission and a staunch opponent of the push to create a national stock market regulator, has been named to head the body that co-ordinates development of market rules across the country.

Bill Rice, chief of Alberta’s securities commission and a staunch opponent of the push to create a national stock market regulator, has been named to head the body that co-ordinates development of market rules across the country.

The appointment of Rice as chairman of the Canadian Securities Administrators is likely to create fresh tension between the federal government — which is pushing for the replacement of the current provincially based market regulation system — and provincial regulators who are happy with things the way they are.

Ottawa has argued the current approach, in which 10 provincial and three territorial regulators co-operate under what is called a “passport” arrangement, is cumbersome, costly and not effective in detecting and enforcing fraud.

But Rice, who has been CEO of Alberta’s regulator for more than five years, said he believes it doesn’t make sense to replace the existing regional system with a single national body.

“I think it’s very dangerous to upset something that’s evolved over such a long period of time and has proven to have worked,” Rice said in an interview Friday.

“I don’t think its a good idea to throw something out that’s been tested and tried and found to be very successful at securities regulation.”

Critics of the current co-operative system point out that, unlike the United States and many other countries with advanced economies, Canada lacks a united voice in securities regulation, which makes it less competitive in the global marketplace.

But Alberta, Quebec and other provinces have long been opposed to the federal government’s plan to create such a national regulatory body for provinces that opt in.

Rice, whose term as chairman of the voluntary umbrella organization officially carries a start date of Jan. 17, said he believes that under the current system, all regional interests “are properly respected and represented.”

Paul Gryglewicz, of Toronto-based Global Governance Advisors, said Rice’s appointment could be a signal that the CSA prefers the status quo and appointed Rice as the best advocate for that position.

“It adds friction to the negotiations with the federal government in terms of trying to come up with an amicable solution,” he said.

Rice took over as CSA chairman from Jean St-Gelais, who has stepped down as president and CEO of the Quebec regulator, Autorite des marches financiers. St-Gelais had served as head of the CSA since April 2005. Rice’s term is expected to run two years until March 2013.

During his tenure, Rice will oversee a laundry list of new regulations and global changes that have emerged in the wake of the global financial crisis — from adopting an international accounting standard to pushing ahead with corporate governance reforms.

And he’s not going to let the issue of a national securities regulator distract him from the task at hand.

“It takes some work when you undertake to develop policies on a consensus basis… but the process has worked very well to result in some excellent securities oversight in this country,” Rice said.

However, Rice said he would consider any policies that would lead to tighter and quicker communication between the provinces.

Canada is the only country in the G20 without a national securities regulator, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States. But Rice argued that is just one of many Canadian policies that make the country stand out.

“I’m sure you can find a number of features about Canada that may be unique in the world, and I don’t think people would start arguing that we must eradicate every unique feature that Canada enjoys,” Rice said.

The creation of a national regulator faces a number of key hurdles, including determined opposition from Alberta, Quebec and Manitoba and lukewarm support for several others.

Both Alberta and Quebec have launched court challenges on the constitutionality of the plan, saying the federal government would be overstepping its bounds if it were to form a centralized watchdog to oversee all of Canada’s capital markets. Ottawa must overcome those challenges in order to proceed.

Meanwhile, Manitoba has indicated it too is opposed to the idea, while British Columbia and New Brunswick have also expressed concerns.

On the other hand Ontario, home to Canada’s largest stock market, has been a leading proponent of creating a national regulator.

The idea also has the support of many business groups, including the Canadian Bankers Association, and has been recommended by both the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said he is prepared to go ahead with a single regulator even if some provinces don’t join. However, he also referred the matter to Canada’s highest court to determine if Ottawa has the constitutional power to unilaterally create such a body.

“We’re happy that a majority of provinces and territories are open to working with our government towards a Canadian securities regulator to better protect investors, retirees and families’ savings,” Flaherty said in a statement Friday.

“We want to build on the existing strengths of existing regulators with strong local offices that will benefit consumers, investors and businesses throughout Canada.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read