The latest innovative solution to the constitutional quagmire of securities regulation, the Co-operative Capital Markets Regulator (CCMR), appears to be in danger of following all previous efforts to launch a national regulator – into oblivion.

The initial, hopeful vision of a voluntary, federal/provincial collaboration to enhance investor protection, improve market efficiency and protect against systemic risk increasingly is running up against the stark reality of how difficult crafting such a complex compromise is.

The task of drafting two sets of laws and a new rule book for securities regulation appears to be harder than expected, as policy-makers repeatedly have missed deadlines for both. When policy-makers did manage to publish draft laws last September, those were met with resoundingly negative feedback on both approach and content.

More deadlines have been missed since. And, perhaps to avoid the appearance of further failures, the project’s participants have shifted from setting specific implementation milestones to merely naming the seasons when things hopefully will occur. So, instead of launching the new authority on July 1, 2015, as initially promised, policy-makers now are aiming for the autumn of 2016. Rather than setting distinct publishing deadlines, the draft laws and regulations are scheduled to be released sometime in the summer.

The impression that this initiative is losing steam is compounded by other gestures. For example, when the project’s latest developments were revealed, both British Columbia and the federal government made announcements, but Ontario didn’t bother to issue a news release. If the addition of the Yukon and the formation of a committee to nominate directors for the new regulator’s board represent genuine progress, you’d expect Ontario to issue a press release at the least. The fact that the province didn’t suggests that hope for this project is fading. The longer this effort drags out, the less likely it is to happen. If the CCMR’s supporters truly believe that they have a workable model for improved capital markets regulation, they must redouble their efforts. If not, they should just let it go.

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