B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is touting his province's top securities regulator to become the first chairman of a proposed agency that would oversee all of Canada's capital markets, but he says landing Doug Hyndman the job is not a prerequisite for Victoria's support of the new watchdog.
"It's not a condition," Mr. Campbell said before an Ottawa meeting between premiers and Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the Jan. 27 stimulus budget.
"I think he'd be a great chair. But I think it would be presumptuous for us to decide who's going to be the chair until we have a national regulator" established, he said.
The Globe and Mail reported this week that B.C. has been pushing for Ottawa to give Mr. Hyndman, head of the British Columbia Securities Commission, a top job in any national market watchdog as a condition of dropping a long-held opposition to the pan-Canadian regulator.
The province has been seeking a "major role" for Mr. Hyndman during talks about what it would take for B.C. to back the national regulator, including the potential appointment of Mr. Hyndman as the first head of the new watchdog, sources said.
The message to Ottawa was that B.C. would "participate, but we want to negotiate things including a role for our chairman," one source said.
Yesterday, Mr. Campbell praised Mr. Hyndman when asked if he had pressed Ottawa to give him the top job in the proposed new regulator in exchange for B.C.'s support.
"He would be very good at that job; he is, I think, nationally recognized for the contributions he would make."
Mr. Campbell said B.C. has laid out its conditions for supporting a national regulator and Mr. Hyndman's candidacy was not one of them. "We have to make sure a national regulator is able to deal with unique [regional issues]... for example in British Columbia, junior mining [companies] in Alberta, oil and gas," he said.
"We've said that it's very important this not become a system of prescription and penalties; we think it's got to be policy-based and performance-based. All of those things are part of creating a smart, modern regime. And we also say there's got to be a strong national enforcement component of any kind of national regulator."
Asked whether he was lobbying for Mr. Hyndman, Mr. Campbell would only say: "I think Mr. Hyndman would be an excellent choice as the chair ... should [the regulator]be established."
This time around, the planned national securities commission has the potential to address the needs of B.C. and smaller companies, said Peter Brown, a prominent B.C. businessman who is founder and chairman of Canaccord Capital.
As a result, Mr. Brown, who has opposed the idea in the past, is in favour of creating a national securities commission. He's also a big fan of Mr. Hyndman, who he said works in a collaborative way with business rather than setting up an adversarial stance, and would get the regulator off to a good start.
"Do I think Doug would be an excellent first choice? Absolutely," he said. "I think he has the intellect and the passion to put a national securities commission on the right basis."
The federal government says that while Mr. Hyndman is a strong candidate to run the new regulator, Ottawa is not buying Victoria's support. An Ottawa source said they are getting B.C. on board by addressing the province's long-standing concerns about a national securities commission, and not with promises about a job for the head of the BCSC.