This week in whining: holdout provinces say Ottawa’s securities regulator can’t have a logo

This week in whining: holdout provinces say Ottawa’s securities regulator can’t have a logo

No logo: the federal securities regulator's branding is slammed before it even exists 

In the ongoing family feud between Ottawa and some recalcitrant provinces over whether to have a national securities regulator or not (we’re looking at you, Alberta and Quebec), the arguments have been pretty surreal. Despite the fact that the vast majority of securities trading happens in Toronto, the delicate sensibilities of our provincial siblings mean that the head office of a national regulator can’t be in Toronto. Today, we learn that the latest offense to people’s feelings is that the feds had the nerve to hire a graphic designer before getting permission from the Supreme Court.

The Globe and Mail has the story:

Alberta and Manitoba – two of the four provinces strongly opposed to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s push for a national regulator – say the planned spending by a “transition office” launched by Ottawa shows a lack of respect for the Supreme Court and the provinces.

“To just ignore provinces and proceed with designing a logo is quite disrespectful of the provinces, in my opinion,” said Rosann Wowchuk, Manitoba’s finance minister, who predicts more provinces will come out against the federal plan. “There’s more momentum opposed to [a national regulator] than there is supportive of it.”

Alberta finance minister Ted Morton said the money for websites and business cards could “turn out to be a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money” if Ottawa’s plan is rejected later this year by the Supreme Court.

Morton thinks spending $100,000 on some business cards and office letterhead is a “colossal waste of money”? And we thought Rob Ford was tight-fisted when it comes to public money.

Even if the Supremes rule against the feds (they won’t), that’s the kind of loose change Ottawa finds in the seat cushions. Here’s a proposal: let the feds print all the office stationery they want, and if this national regulator scheme collapses on them, the premiers can dance around a bonfire of redundant office supplies. Just, please, somebody make sure they keep their pants on.

• Spending on securities regulator draws ire of provincial critics [Globe and Mail]