Coffee Speaks Before Canada's Finance Ministers

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June 21, 2007 – John C. Coffee Jr., Columbia Law School’s Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, addressed a closed door conference this week of Canada’s 13 provincial ministers with responsibility for finance and securities regulation.
At the request of Jim Flaherty, Canada’s Minister of Finance, Coffee assessed Canada’s position in international capital markets and the impact of Canada’s decentralized regulatory structure on its ability to enforce securities law and keep pace with new developments in a global marketplace.
Coffee’s June 19 speech was part of a two-day conference of Canada’s regional finance ministers at Meech Lake, Quebec.  The Canadian federal government wants to create a unified federal securities regulator to streamline Canada’s securities regulation so the country can better compete for foreign issuers and reduce its cost of capital.
The International Monetary Fund recently said that Canada would be more attractive to investors if the 13 regional securities regulators were replaced by a single national regulator, the CBC has reported.
Coffee said Canada is the only remaining major economy in the world not to have a single national securities regulator. Currently, each province and territory has its own securities regulatory body. Coffee said this decentralized structure interferes with effective law enforcement.
Ontario and Canada’s federal government favor the move to a single regulator, but they face opposition from several provinces that for a variety of reasons fear centralization.
Last month, Coffee testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate’s Banking, Urban Affairs and Housing Committee on the decision by the New York Stock Exchange and the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Securities Dealers to merge their regulatory arms. He also testified at a Securities and Exchange Commission public roundtable on ``access to the proxy statement.’’
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