The creation of a national securities regulator has created an interesting split in Alberta’s conservative movements. The national regulator, championed by the Ottawa Conservatives is strongly opposed on the provincial-level in Alberta by the Wildrose Alliance and governing Progressive Conservative parties.
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith in a May 26, 2010 media release:
“As I have travelled the province and met with business leaders, many have talked about the importance of choice in terms of where they raise money and have their affairs regulated.”
“If the federal government plans to take away this choice from Alberta’s entrepreneurs, we hope that the Government of Alberta will aggressively pursue its intervention against this intrusive law.”
“Alberta is not opposed to improving on the system we have, but we are opposed to the federal government acting unilaterally in an area that is provincial jurisdiction.”
“A federal regulator headquartered in Toronto could make it harder for these and other Alberta businesses to raise funds for growth and development.”
“If we open the door to federal intrusion in this area, we will be potentially inviting intrusion into other areas of provincial jurisdiction governing finance, such as insurance, pensions and financial institutions. Most Albertans don’t want this, and this is why we have joined forces with Québec to challenge the legality of this unprecedented federal power grab.”
Airdrie-Chestermere Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson in a May 26, 2010 media release:
“If businesses want to participate in a nationally-regulated system, they should be free to opt-in to that kind of arrangement. If businesses want to participate in a provincially-regulated system, then they should be free to continue.”
“Today we have 13 regulators, 13 sets of rules and 13 sets of fees. We need to lower barriers, not multiply them.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Toronto Star:
“As an Albertan, I have no interest in seeing this sector centralized in Toronto.”
What happens if Alberta decides to opt out of the national securities regulator? Heather Zordel, a securities lawyer with Cassels Brock, told the Hamilton Spectator:
“If Alberta is not participating, where does that leave you? Well, that leaves you with an unfortunate situation where the co-ordination effort is going to have to be dealt with through the offices of the people that do participate.”
History shows that Albertans should be cautious of ceding autonomy to central Canadian institutions – especially in relation to our natural resources – but this appears to be more complex than a typical Ottawa versus Alberta struggle. Alberta’s New West Partnership allies, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, suspicious silence on the issue begs the question of how much this really has to do with the state of the conservative movement in Alberta? Perhaps Minister Morton’s beating the war drums against Ottawa has more to do with the Wildrose Alliance than a national regulator.