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Alberta Securities Commission chairman Bill Rice has been named the new head of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the umbrella group of Canada's 13 provincial and territorial securities commissions.
Rice replaces Jean St-Gelais, who has been chairman of the co-operative organization since 2005. St-Gelais was chief executive officer of the Quebec securities regulator - the Autorité des marchés financiers - but resigned in December when he was named deputy revenue minister in the Quebec government. He will head the province's tax-collecting agency.
The chairman of the CSA is chosen by member securities commissions from the ranks of the chairs of the provincial regulators. The CSA develops policies and harmonizes regulations among Canada's securities commissions. Many proposals for new securities regulation are negotiated through the CSA forum then implemented individually by each securities commission.
Rice will head the CSA during a tumultuous period as the federal government moves toward the creation of a national securities regulator. At least three provinces have declared they will not join the national securities commission, and several others have publicly expressed reservations.
Rice is far from neutral in the debate. He has emerged as one of the strongest critics of the proposal, and has become the face of Alberta's opposition to the plan, providing two affidavits the province has submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada to outline reasons for opposing the new regulator.
In a statement Friday, he said the CSA will maintain its focus.
"In these challenging times, the CSA is an organization critical to ensuring confidence in Canada's capital markets," he said. "We will continue to do what we've been doing all along - focus on and respond to market conditions and public concerns regarding securities regulation and effectively enforce securities laws in Canada."