Louis Morisset is chair of the Canadian Securities Administrators and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers.
As the federal Liberals consider their position on the previous government's "co-operative securities regulator" project, I believe it's important to re-emphasize the fundamentals of Canada's already co-operative securities regulatory framework, to which I am firmly committed.
Canada's current framework rests on a co-operative system that has been in place for decades. For many years, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) have been working tirelessly to develop processes, including centralized information technology systems, that allow its members to work together to efficiently carry out their respective mandates.
To this day, Canada's securities regulatory framework continues to be recognized as one of the most efficient and respected in the world, one that withstood the recent financial and economic crisis.
Over the past 20 years, the CSA has achieved a high level of regulatory harmonization when developing the vast majority of securities rules and policies through the co-operative contribution of its seasoned professionals across all jurisdictions.
Although perceived by some as being lengthier, the multilateral process in place not only allows CSA members to implement rules and policies that offer measured responses to issues impacting investor protection and capital markets efficiency, but also avails them of the required flexibility to respond to local regulatory challenges effectively. Uniformity isn't always what's needed.
It was on the basis of this harmonized regulatory framework that our Passport system was implemented in 2008. It has since provided market participants with a single window of access to Canada's capital markets.
The CSA's enforcement mandate is also premised on co-operation between and among members. Its enforcement committee has put in place administrative processes that staff across the country rely on to ensure that violators cannot move easily from one jurisdiction to another, including the ability to reciprocate orders. Joint police and securities regulator units, such as those in Quebec and Ontario, constitute another valuable and proven tool.
With respect to capital-market-related systemic risk, the CSA has never remained idle. Years ago, it established an oversight team and participates in the heads of agencies with the Bank of Canada, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Department of Finance. At the international level, Internationally, the CSA also takes part in the International Organizations of Securities Commissions committee on emerging risks.
Finally, as for international representation, Canada's diverse interests are well served by the co-ordinated voices of two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, at the IOSCO board.
The fact Canada is the only developed economy without a single national securities regulator is an argument often advanced by those who are critical of our current system. Rather than presenting this reality as a weakness, I believe it should be promoted as evidence of how adapted our securities regulatory framework is to a country as large and diverse as Canada.
The Capital Markets Regulatory Authority proposed by the previous federal government would not only disrupt the truly co-operative securities system that is already in place in Canada under the CSA umbrella, but would also replace it with a system in which important segments of the country will not take part. With everyone's goodwill, the current high level of co-operation among federal, provincial and territorial authorities can be improved by building upon, not dismantling, what already exists and is working well.