The Ontario Ministry of Finance has tapped veteran securities industry lawyer David Brown to head the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), Canada's largest and most influential regulator. The position of OSC chairman technically has been vacant since Edward Waitzer completed his second five-year term in November 1996.
Since that time, the job has been held down by acting chairman Jack Geller, who was denied his own formal appointment because of what many industry sources say was a turf war between the commission, which wanted more control over Canada's mutual fund industry, and the powerful investment companies, which did not support the OSC initiatives.
Brown is a senior partner at the Toronto law firm of Davies Ward & Beck. During his almost 30 years in securities law, he has served on numerous federal and provincial task forces on key industry policy matters.
In accepting the job, which began April 15, he refused to discuss his goals for the OSC, saying it would be less than helpful to approach the task with fixed views.
Brown did say, however, that he agreed to take on the task because it was apparent the OSC needs strong leadership to see it through the next several years. As it struggled with budget problems, the OSC was perceived by some to have lost part of its ability to regulate Canada's largest securities marketplace.
Brown's appointment was greeted by most with as much relief as enthusiasm.
"With all the politics and intrigue that has been surrounding the commission chairmanship, it just feels good to get this behind us," says a veteran Bay Street brokerage executive.