Maxime Bernier

The debate over a Canadian securities commission

The debate over a Canadian securities commission

10 November 2009 

A journalist at the National Post, John Ivison, writes a column this morning that refers to a presentation I gave in 2004 on whether or not the creation of a federal securities commission would be in accord with the Constitution. As everyone knows, the topic has been in the news recently, when my colleague Jim Flaherty, the minister of Finance, announced that our government would ask the Supreme Court to give its opinion on the matter. This controversy has been going on for many years already.

As I told Mr Ivison when he contacted me, I haven’t changed my mind and I still believe that the Constitution allocates this power to the provinces. There is nothing secret in the position that I have defended and for those who would like to consult it, I have scanned the text of my presentation, which you can access here.

I am however very proud of the fact that contrary to what a liberal government would likely have done, our government has not imposed its legislative will on Quebec and other provinces who object to such a move and has chosen instead to ask the opinion of the Supreme Court. A conservative government will not encroach upon areas of provincial jurisdiction. This debate will be settled once and for all and our government will respect the decision of the Court and the Constitution.

One thing that is not mentioned in the article and that I would like to clarify is that I mostly became interested in this question when I worked as vice-president for corporate and international affairs at the Quebec Securities Commission (now the Autorité des marchés financiers) between 1997 and 2000. I gave the presentation a few years later at a colloquium on securities organized by the Canadian Institute in Montreal after I had become vice-president of the Standard Life of Canada.

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