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Alberta Politics

national securities regulator shows split among conservatives.

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.”

Finance Minister Ted Morton in a May 26, 2010 media release:

“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.”

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in the Globe & Mail:

“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.

5 replies on “national securities regulator shows split among conservatives.”

A reader passed along this note about the securities regulator issue:

As Finance Minister Ted Morton tries to protect the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC), and the ASC desperately tries to protect the investment industry I have to ask a few questions for Mr. Morton:

Who is protecting Alberta investors? It is certainly not you.
Why does the ASC let investment firms violate alberta securities law?
Why are these exemptions granted without notifying the public?
How many investors know that there are more than 500 such legal passes granted each year in Alberta, on investments they may own?

Finance Minister Ted Morton needs to tell the public why he will not answer any of these questions, nor will he force the ASC to answer these questions about the public interest. Investments are a consumer product and the public should be asking exactly why this regulator (and Minister Morton) would allow thousands of investment products to be sold to consumers without meeting the laws. Is there a special form of treatment for financial firms? Is there some kind of exemption from consumer protection laws that we should know of? Is somebody on the take that perhaps we should know about Mr. Morton? They (and you) are required to act only in the public interest and yet they (and you) cannot answer these questions. That is an answer unto itself.

Mr. Morton, you are trying to protect a crown agency that has been the subject of years and years of controversy. An agency that has recently allowed $1 billion in toxic, sub prime investments to be sold to Albertans without explanation. Will you tell us why toxic investments were given permission to violate our laws? (see forum topics at http://www.investoradvocates.ca)

To support regulators whose salaries are paid by the investment industry, and to help cover over a cozy, possibly corrupt relationship between the regulator and the industry is to fail in your duty to the public.
You have earned our vote. Now Mr. Morton will you work to earn our respect?

Further, Mr. Morton, if you are concerned about Alberta jobs, why not simply negotiate a Calgary office location for the new National Securities Regulatory body. That would seem easier to accomplish and perhaps wiser than supporting an already corrupt and negligent regulator, the ASC.

Albertan investors should write their own letter to Finance Minister Ted Morton at Fin-Ent.Minister@gov.ab.ca and copy me with your letter and or any response you may get. See if Mr. Morton will refuse to answer these questions to you as well. I promise to keep track of this matter until investors can be protected like any other consumer, and not preyed upon by regulators who cannot or will not demonstrate that they are not on the take.

Larry Elford (former CFP, CIM, FCSI, Associate Portfolio Manager, retired)
lelford@shaw.ca

Lethbridge Alberta, founder and director of http://www.investoradvocates.ca

If a national securities regulator brings greater integrity to the marketplace, greater confidence for investors, it will be a good thing. If it is another smokescreen to protect the shady, guard your portfolios.

Judging by the most recent unelected Senate appointment, you have to wonder if the current federal government means what they say or demeans what they claim.

Check your facts Dave. Ontario’s finance minister has said that if the HQ for it all isn’t in Toronto that they don’t want anything to do with the new regulator. The Ontario centrifuge won’t hear of anything else including a Calgary location for juniors. The only clear option is to oppose the regulator entirely.

““A federal regulator headquartered in Toronto could make it harder for these and other Alberta businesses to raise funds for growth and development.”” – Ted Morton

I’ve lived in Alberta for more than 30 years(moved here at 18, by myself), and the on-going whining about the difficulty of raising funds (presumably because, you know, those central Canadians have it in for Alberta) still raises bile in my throat. Let me clear it…

Do these whiners ever consider that perhaps their initiatives just aren’t big enough, or potentially profitable enough, for investors to make a decent return? MAYBE, just MAYBE, the non-investment decisions are made( or not made) on the basis of sound business principles, nothing more, nothing less!

Alberta has a pretty well developed “good ol’ boy (and girl)” network, so business decisions here seem often to be based on who you know and where you fit in the network. This network overlaps with the provincial government as well. I would suggest that while networking is important, it should not be THE determining factor with respect to investment decisions, and in fact, has probably led to more mistakes than otherwise.

Finally…I thought we lived in a “global economy”?! Why depend on local or central Canadian investments? If your idea has merit and potential for profit, somebody will invest. You just won’t be able to count on your buddies to do so. You might have to give up a bit of control, but you will have the investment you need.

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