Alberta kiboshes plan for single Canadian securities regulator

So much for mobile, accessible capital for growing Canadian businesses…

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach poured cold water yesterday on federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s push for a nationwide securities regulator, saying he has no interest in moving beyond an alternative system provinces have set up.

He said he’s content to stick with the “passport system” – arranged by all provinces except Ontario – that synchronizes securities approvals but allows 13 separate securities commissions to remain.

That’s right – thirteen separate securities commissions for Canada, each one a fiefdom unto itself in terms of enforcing securities legislation. Restricting the flow of capital through a country quickly falling behind its core G8 competitors.

Alberta’s support is considered crucial to forming a single securities regulator because companies headquartered in the province have the second-biggest market capitalization of any jurisdiction in Canada.

Ontario is the largest in terms of market cap, but Alberta is growing quickly on the strength of oil sands development.

According to Canada’s Department of Finance:

In December 2003 the Wise Persons’ Committee presented its report recommending that the federal and provincial governments collaborate to establish a single securities regulator in Canada. The federal government continues to work with the provinces towards the development of a single securities regulator to promote greater efficiency in Canada’s capital markets.

C’mon guys, they don’t call them wise persons for nothing!

What do you think? Is there any hope for a single regulator in Canada to rival the SEC in the US and the FSA in the UK?