Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has launched a review of how it polices the securities industry, appointing a high-profile committee with a mission of creating a “more flexible regulatory approach.”
The government unveiled its Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce on Thursday, naming five Bay Street insiders with backgrounds in finance, law, institutional trading and corporate governance.
The committee’s head, Walied Soliman, is the Canadian chair of law firm Norton Rose Fulbright and has a long history with Ontario’s PC Party, including a stint as the head of the party’s 2018 campaign, a post he stepped down from after the resignation of then-leader Patrick Brown. Mr. Soliman is also a senior adviser to the leadership campaign recently launched by Conservative MP Erin O’Toole, who is seeking to replace Andrew Scheer as leader of the federal Conservative Party. (Mr. Soliman had been acting as the chair of the O’Toole campaign, but recently stepped back because of the provincial appointment, he said in an e-mail.)
The other committee members are Rupert Duchesne, the former chief executive of Aimia, a loyalty program operator; Wesley Hall, the founder of Kingsdale Advisors, a shareholder proxy services firm; Melissa Kennedy, executive vice-president and chief legal officer at Sun Life; and Cindy Tripp, one of the founding partners of GMP Securities LP.
In a Ministry of Finance news release, the government called the review “long overdue.” The province’s Securities Act stipulates that reviews of securities laws and regulations should take place every five years, but the most recent one took place in 2003.
“Market participants have long called for a more flexible regulatory approach in order to enable Ontario to compete globally,” the release said.
The committee has a deadline of this summer to release a pubic consultation paper. The group’s final report is to be submitted to Finance Minister Rod Phillips in the fall.
Two months ago, the Ontario Securities Commission released its own in-house initiative to reduce red tape. The report, Reducing Regulatory Burden in Ontario’s Capital Markets, included changes to eliminate duplicative paperwork and accommodate faster, more efficient technologies.
In an interview, Mr. Phillips said the OSC’s review and the committee announced Thursday are “absolutely complementary.”
“Now we’re going to take, with an expert task force … a more comprehensive look at what we need to do … to make sure the capital markets are delivering on the potential to help the Ontario economy grow,” he said.
In a statement, the OSC said it welcomes and supports the project, which it described as “important for healthy, well-functioning capital markets.”
Ermanno Pascutto, the executive director of the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights, said his investor advocacy group supports the review, and he called the committee highly qualified – with one caveat.
“It’s a little disappointing that the people of Ontario, who are overwhelmingly retail investors and consumers of financial products and services, are not represented on the task force,” he said.
In January, the chair of the OSC, Maureen Jensen, announced she was resigning from her position effective April 15, a year before her term was set to expire. Ms. Jensen, the first female chair of the securities regulator, declined to comment on the reasons for her departure. Under her leadership, some of the regulator’s initiatives clashed with the priorities of the Ford government. The most prominent of these conflicts was a proposed OSC ban on certain mutual-fund fees that the PCs declined to support.
In a statement that was issued at the time of her resignation, Ms. Jensen praised Mr. Phillips, who became Minister of Finance in June after the mutual-fund fee dispute.
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