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Ontario Securities Commission (Peter Power/Peter Power/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Ontario Securities Commission (Peter Power/Peter Power/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Howard Wetston named new OSC chair Add to ...

Ontario Energy Board chairman Howard Wetston has been named the new chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission, replacing current chairman David Wilson as his five-year term expires.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan appointed Mr. Wetston to the OSC's top position Wednesday morning.

Mr. Wetston, a former judge with an extensive legal background, was vice-chairman of the OSC between 1999 and 2003, when he was named chairman of the Ontario Energy Board.

Prior to joining the OSC, Mr. Wetston was a judge of the Federal Court of Canada from 1993 to 1999, and before that was Director of Investigation and Research with the federal Bureau of Competition Policy from 1989 to 1993.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Wetston was a Crown counsel in Nova Scotia and later worked as a lawyer in private practice in Ottawa and Montreal.

The financial industry is closely watching leadership changes at the OSC because of possible implications for the federal government's controversial plan to create a single national securities regulator.

Ontario, home to Canada's main stock exchange - one of North America's largest - and much of its financial industry, wants Toronto be the headquarters for the new securities watchdog. But Alberta and Quebec, fearful of losing influence, are fighting the very concept of a national regulator.

"I suppose that they might be surprised but I don't think that they're going to be displeased because he has such a strong background, said Jim Hinds, chairman of Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator, who is on the transition team for a national securities regulator.

"Howard is a very smart guy and he's known for having opinions, but he's also known for his abilities to get things done and I think he'll be a very good leader of that organization."

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear challenges from Alberta and Quebec later this year on the creation of a national regulator. British Columbia had opposed the idea but now supports it.

"It is complicated as hell. You're talking about trying to put together a new national securities regulator over the objections of at least two ... provinces," added Mr. Hinds.

With files from Reuters

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