'Co-operative," rather than "national," is the circumspect adjective for the nascent Canadian securities regulator, but its creators deserve praise for their persistence, in particular, Jim Flaherty, the federal Minister of Finance, together with Michael de Jong and Charles Sousa, the finance ministers of British Columbia and Ontario.
The regulation of the Canadian capital markets will no longer be so balkanized. The two large provinces that are joining are the home of about two-thirds of the Canadian capital market. The smaller provinces, such as the Maritimes, and all three territories are likely to adhere to the plan. As for Alberta, Premier Alison Redford and Doug Horner, the Finance Minister, expressed surprise at the news of the proposed commission.
Quebec's position is not ambiguous. Especially with its present Parti Québécois government, it will not join in the near future.
The weight of the new regulator should, however, be able to exert a certain gravitational force on the country as a whole, and it will have a stronger international presence than the sum of the 13 existing Canadian securities commissions.
In December, 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada took too narrow a view of the division of legislative powers in the Constitution Act, 1867, but the justices at least recognized that a national body created by a federal statute could deal with "systemic risk" to the Canadian economy.
Consequently, the plan is that there will be a federal statute concerning criminal matters and systemic risks, while the member provinces will pass a uniform statute dealing with all the other matters that the provincial commissions now attend to.
Consequently, the threat by Alexandre Cloutier, the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister of Quebec, to challenge the new regulator under the Constitution, is empty. The design put forward by Mr. Flaherty and his two provincial colleagues is a prudent one, which will benefit Canada.