Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the motion. At the outset, I am totally against it.
It is my premise that Canada needs to advance its productivity and prosperity agenda. Canada needs an efficient, effective economical securities regulator that meets the needs not only of the companies both large and small operating in our great country, but also, and perhaps more important, meets the needs of investors looking to invest in Canadian companies rather than non-Canadian companies. My premise is the only way this can be done is through a national securities regulator.
From a geographical point of view, Canada is a very large country. From the population point of view, it is an extremely small country. We have 34 million people spread out across a vast geographical area. I think we comprise between 1% and 2% of the world's equity markets. Right now we have at least 10 different regulators. We are the only country in the world wherein we would find this type of a system. It cannot work, and I do not think it will work going forward. It is disjointed and duplicitous.
From personal experience, what happens is a lot of the smaller provinces rely on the rulings of the Ontario Securities Commission. I happen to come from a small province. We have approximately 134,000 people, and this is a good example. Are we expected to have our own securities commission, our own securities regulator, our own rules, laws and policy guidelines to deal with any securities issue that comes across our desk?
Again, any person would realize that it is not workable not only in Prince Edward Island, but in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It will not and can not work.
Another issue, which has been written about extensively, is the inability of our securities regulators to adequately enforce the existing rules. We have had a number of scandals over the years where investors have lost a lot of money, and no one seems to ever be convicted.
Perhaps the most grievous example is Bre-X. I believe capitalization in that case reached approximately $3 billion. There is more gold in my hand than there was in that mine. Investors from one part of Canada to the other part of Canada were fleeced of large amounts of money, and as far as I am aware nobody was convicted. This repeats itself over and over again.
The only way the country will move forward, so we have a very effective and efficient system of capitalization of our companies, is to have a national regulator. That is what I would like to see.
We have seen it. We are into an era of globalization. We have one in Vancouver, one in Alberta and in Montreal. Again, it is consolidation. However, if we do not take steps to have a national securities regulator in place in Canada, what will happen in the long run? If the present trend continues, companies and investors will not look at any of the Canadian provinces. They will bypass the Canadian provinces and look to the New York Stock Exchange.
A lot of resource-based companies in Canada rely on the capital markets. A lot of investors and pension funds rely on opportunities to invest their money. A lot of people want to invest in Canadian companies. If we have 13 separate regulators with their own 13 separate sets of rules, laws and regulations, that will create a lot of uncertainty. I do not think it can work in the long run.
This is very close to the productivity and prosperity agenda. I believe everything that goes on in the House should be looked at through the lens of whether it would enhance the prosperity and productivity of our country. With a national securities regulator, there is no question that it would.
As an aside, and this is related to other issues that perhaps are not in the motion, we have the whole economic union issue which calls for a national securities regulator, but just as importantly, it also calls for the reduction and hopefully the elimination of interprovincial trade barriers that exist.
In this particular country, we have 13 separate jurisdictions, and as everyone in this House is aware, there are many barriers put up to the trade of goods, the movement of goods and people, and services across interprovincial boundaries. There are many barriers in the interprovincial sense that are causing many problems with our productivity and prosperity.
It is good to see some of the initiatives being taken by the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. They recognize that. They do have an agreement and hopefully other Canadian provinces will emulate those particular agreements that do exist.
Hopefully, if we look back and we are here in 10 years time, many of those interprovincial barriers will disappear. However, if we have 13 different securities regulators, that in and of itself will be a very serious issue that will be looked at.
As I said previously, Canadians are investing more. This is how people, indirectly through their pension funds, fund their retirements, through RRSPs and other instruments that are available. It is natural that Canadians are looking for Canadian opportunities.
We know the land. We know the companies. We know what resources are out there. We know what ought to work and we know that it might not work, but again, if Canadians do not see that there are proper regulations, laws and policies, they will just move on and they will look of course not only to the New York Stock Exchange but the European stock exchanges, Tokyo, and others.
This relates to a larger discussion on what I call the need for a strong central government. We cannot build a country based upon 10 semi-autonomous jurisdictions with a moat or a firewall around each jurisdiction, each one speaking for itself.
Canada needs and cries out for a strong central government, a government with a pan-Canadian vision, a government that speaks for all people wherever they live, whatever sector they are employed in, and this whole issue of a national securities regulator cries out for that.
I realize there are some jurisdictional issues. I know this is an issue that has been worked on by successive governments of different political stripes. We have not been, as of today's date, successful in our quest for this objective, but I do hope that we move toward that.
I know there are always trifle issues as to where this office is going to be located and where that office is going to be located, what this office does and what that office does, but I am hopeful those issues can be resolved through negotiation.
However, if anyone leaves this debate thinking that this country will benefit through the development and expansion of 13 separate security commissions, with their own laws and regulations, then I submit to this House that they are mistaken.
In conclusion, I say to this House that this motion, in my respectful opinion, does not make a lot of sense. It does not advance the prosperity and productivity agenda of this country. The efficiencies and effectiveness that one would like to see in the system will not be present. I urge everyone to vote against this particular motion.