OTTAWA — It's been a dream of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's for seven years — a single national securities regulator to police Canada's stock markets.
But Flaherty's work on that file was fought every step of the way by the likes of Quebec and Alberta, who want exclusive control over their own capital markets.
So on Thursday, he did the next best thing, inking what Flaherty called a "historic" deal with two willing provincial partners, Ontario and B.C., to create what is being billed as the Co-operative Capital Markets Regulator.
Once it gets going, the CCMR will replace the Ontario Securities Commission and the British Columbia Securities Commission.
Flaherty said the common regulator will better protect investors, make it easier to catch white-collar criminals and help Canada attract more investment.
"Our economic union stands stronger today than it did yesterday," Flaherty said. "We invite all provinces and territories to participate."
The separatist government of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois immediately threatened to take the federal government to court to prevent Flaherty's "co-op" idea from getting off the ground.
Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner complained on Twitter that Alberta had not been consulted, while Premier Alison Redford vowed Albertans were not about to let anyone "impose a system" her government didn't like.
Among G20 countries, Canada is the only one without a national securities regulator backed by tough national laws.
The common regulator's head office will be in Toronto.
A "council of ministers" from the three jurisdictions will oversee the regulator.