The Ontario government has yet to indicate who it will select to lead the Ontario Securities Commission on a permanent basis, even as the end of the acting chair and CEO’s term approaches.
Grant Vingoe has led the provincial regulator since April, stepping in for Maureen Jensen, who announced her resignation as chair and CEO in January of last year. The government named Vingoe, a vice-chair at the OSC, as chair for a one-year term that expires April 15.
In a statement, the Ontario Ministry of Finance referred Investment Executive to the selection process but didn’t comment on when the government would appoint a permanent chair.
Securities industry observers said they aren’t surprised that the Ministry of Finance has yet to name a permanent chair and CEO for the OSC, considering the many issues confronting the government — chief among them the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The appointment of a new minister of finance may have also contributed to the delay. Peter Bethlenfalvy, who is also president of the Treasury Board of Ontario, replaced Rod Phillips on Dec. 31.
“I’ve got to believe [naming a permanent chair and CEO] is somewhere in the list of [the minister’s] priorities, but not at the very top,” said Robert Yalden, professor of corporate law and finance with the faculty of law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
There’s been no announcement “because they feel that the OSC is in good hands right now [with Vingoe], so they well could let [the issue] go,” suggested Ian Russell, president and CEO of the Investment Industry Association of Canada. “But at some point, they’re going to have to deal with it.”
Over the short term, operating without a permanent leader for the OSC is likely not an issue, Yalden said: “Grant Vingoe is a very credible and steady hand on the tiller.”
In the longer term, however, “I don’t think it’s great to have a situation where the person who is leading the charge and deciding what the regulatory priorities are [for the OSC] isn’t sure whether they’re going to be there in a year, or even in a few months,” Yalden said.
It also remains unclear how Bethlenfalvy intends to proceed with the recommendations made in the recently submitted Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce report, a review of the provincial Securities Act launched by Phillips last year.
The task force report included some 70 wide-ranging recommendations, including expanding the mandate of the OSC; separating the OSC into an adjudicative and regulatory body; and splitting the job of the chair and CEO into two roles.
How the government proceeds on the task force report recommendations is “interrelated” with the question of OSC leadership, Yalden said.
“If they select someone and appoint them as chair and CEO, the inevitable questions will be, ‘What are you doing with the task force report? Do you think that person’s role is going to get split? Do you see that person in the long-term staying on as CEO and then you appoint a chair? Who do you have in mind?’ You can see all those various questions being thrown at the government,” Yalden said.
Vingoe himself has not commented publicly regarding his intentions, but the OSC provided a written statement from him in response to questions from Investment Executive.
“My primary focus is responding to the pandemic and the challenges it has created,” Vingoe said. “Since April, the OSC has provided a source of stability for Ontario investors and businesses, and I am proud of our contributions to the province’s financial health. I look forward to continuing engagement with the Minister and Ministry staff as we work together on the province’s path to economic recovery.”
Vingoe, a veteran securities lawyer, was appointed vice-chair of the OSC in August 2015 for a two-year term. He was reappointed in 2017 and again in 2019, with a term ending in August 2021.
Under Vingoe’s watch, the OSC has continued to focus on key policy initiatives, including burden reduction and the client-focused reforms; launched an innovation office to boost entrepreneurship in the province; and established an inclusion and diversity council.
The OSC also provided technical input and analysis to the Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce’s consultation.
“Ontario and this country are very privileged to have [Vingoe] at the helm of the leadership of the OSC,” said Walied Soliman, chair of the task force, during a technical briefing in January.