Published On Fri Oct 16 2009
OTTAWA–The federal government has decided to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether its plan for a single, national securities regulator is constitutional.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty wants to set up a single stock market regulator to replace the current patchwork of provincial securities watchdogs.
He has been supported by the province of Ontario and many other provinces. But the province of Quebec is against a single regulator, which it considers an infringement on its political autonomy under the constitution.
The government is asking the Supreme Court to rule on the question in an attempt to head off legal references in the province of Quebec, sources said today.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced that Ottawa will submit draft legislation on a single securities regulator to the Supreme Court next spring.
"The government strongly believes that Parliament has the constitutional authority to enact comprehensive federal securities legislation and is initiating preparatory steps in that direction," said Nicholson.
"In coming to this view, the government is supported by many of Canada’s foremost constitutional experts. However, for greater certainty, we will be asking the Supreme Court for its opinion, which is why we are proceeding with this reference."
The Government is mindful of the importance of having a definitive answer on the issue, Nicholson added in a statement released late this afternoon. "An opinion from the Supreme Court of Canada will provide legal certainty to all provinces and territories, and market participants, and thus protect the integrity of a Canadian securities regulatory regime," the statement said.