The Supreme Court of Canada appears close to releasing a much-awaited decision on whether the federal government has the authority to create a new national securities regulator.
The top court has asked parties involved in the case for permission to organize a media lock-up to release the ruling, according to information on the court's web site. The electronic "docket" does not reveal a planned released date, but federal officials expect a decision by the middle of next month.
The decision has been anticipated since the court held a rare two-day hearing in April to consider a slew of arguments on the federal government's constitutional authority to regulate the securities industry, which has historically been overseen by provinces and territories.
The Harper government introduced new legislation in 2010 to create a new national regulator to replace a patchwork of 13 provincial and territorial securities commissions. It immediately referred the legislation to the Supreme Court for a ruling on its constitutionality because provinces such as Quebec and Alberta said they would fight the effort.
Six provinces argued against the legislation at the April hearing, arguing the encroachment on provincial authority would open the door to erode Canada's division of powers between provinces and the federal government. Ontario was the only province to speak in support of the proposal.
The Supreme Court's procedures allow for lock-ups in "high-profile, complex cases" but only if lawyers for the parties involved give their consent. The lock-up allows accredited members of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery to be briefed on the decision just before it is publicly released. The court procedures also allow for a separate lock-up for parties and intervenors involved in the case.
Similar to a budget lock-up, participants must remain in the room and cannot communicate the findings until the decision is publicly released.