Montreal

Quebec dumps on Flaherty for securities plan

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's desire to set up a common securities regulator is drawing the ire of his Quebec counterpart.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's desire to set up a common securities regulator is drawing the ire of his Quebec counterpart.

Quebec Finance Minister Monique Jérôme-Forget is irritated by what she calls Flaherty's "aggressive" campaign.

She said Monday that Flaherty's attitude runs contrary to the spirit of open federalism preached by Prime Minister Stephen Harper since the Conservatives were elected in January 2006.

Flaherty has repeatedly said the existence of 13 separate securities regulators, laws and fees for the various provinces and territories in Canada is inefficient and makes it difficult to enforce the rules.

Flaherty announced the creation of a commission this summer to look at setting up a pan-Canadian regulator.

Jérôme-Forgetsaid Monday there is no doubt that jurisdiction over securities regulation rests with the provinces although media reports say the Conservatives are considering asking the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on this.

"Instead of seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court, would it not be wiser for the federal government to consult with the provinces?"Jérôme-Forgetsaid in a speech to an association of securities regulators.

"This action by the federal government will leave more than a bitter taste. The prime minister should implement the open federalism he preaches rather than dealing with it through the courts."

Most provincial finance ministers have rejected Flaherty's plan for a single regulator, arguing instead for changes to co-ordinate and harmonize securities laws across the country.

Jérôme-Forgetalso accused the federal government of pressuring the International Monetary Fund to come out in favour of a single regulator for Canada, something she says would be an "intrusion" of the organization into the country's affairs.

She said Canada's current system has a good reputation but acknowledged there are some problems, particularly when it comes to prosecutions. She said the federal government and the provinces need to be more aggressive on this issue.

The provincial finance minister said the current system of 13 separate agencies is not more complicated or expensive than having a single regulator.

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