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The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa is seen Thursday Oct. 7, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa is seen Thursday Oct. 7, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Give national regulator another shot: OSC's Wetston Add to ...

When the Supreme Court of Canada levelled its unanimous decision that blocked the creation of a national securities regulator, business leaders voiced their distaste. The Ontario Securities Commission, however, was relatively mute, simply saying it would review the decision.

A month later, OSC chair Howard Wetston has made up his mind. “I wouldn’t put a bullet in it,” he said on a panel hosted by Torys LLP on Wednesday.

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This isn’t to say that he doesn’t respect the Supreme Court’s ruling. He does. “Policy has to reflect the world that we live in, and unfortunately, the world is a messy place,” he said. But the Court laid out areas in which it believes federal regulation could be approved, and Mr. Wetston wants to see some progress there.

“I’ll accept the Canadian way, but I think the provinces and federal government should give it another go,” he said.

If they don’t, he suggested that the OSC can’t sit back and hammer out policy by mutually agreeing on everything with other provinces any more, especially because the OSC oversees the majority of capital markets regulation. “We realize the constitutional entanglement... but we at the OSC need to get on with our job,” he said

To explain how the provinces currently operate, and why it's so frustrating, he quoted comedian Lily Tomlin. “We’re all in this together by ourselves.”

As for the nasty problem of where to put a federal regulator’s headquarters, Michael Nobrega, chief executive of OMERS and another panel member, suggested an easy solution: give it to whichever Canadian city wins the next Stanley Cup.

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