Saturday 5 February 2011

Investor Protection in Canada: The Sisyphus Myth Backwards

In ancient Greek mythology, Sisyphus was an evil man condemned by the gods for his crimes to roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down on nearing the top and then have to start all over, repeating this forever.

Unfortunately, today in Canada, Sisyphus has been reversed - it is the investor protection advocates, those representing the victims of financial crime, who seem to be condemned to forever rolling the boulder of reform up the steep hill of governmental and bureaucratic indifference.

Having long been aware of such investor advocate stalwarts as Ken Kivenko at Peter Benedek of and Marc Ryan of, I've just come across Pamela Reeve (website here) and her current efforts to get the Investor Advisory Panel of the regulatory body the Ontario Securities Commission on an effective track. To no avail it seems ... after reading her thoughtful and detailed open letter to John Stevenson of the OSC about the IAP, I sent her an email asking about response and progress. A speedy reply the very day came from her (unlike, I might note, responses from the OSC at various times I have emailed them, which took from a few days to never). The essence of the result - a new IAP with no resources and no independence from the OSC (see the OSC page for the IAP here). She also copied me with a letter to the Ontario Minister responsible Dwight Duncan and his dismissive response months later.

Having worked for many years in corporate and government bureaucracies, at times even drafting responses such as the one she received from Minister Duncan, it is sadly evident to me that as yet, there is no will at the top government level to improve things for investors. Meantime, the OSC and other organizations who can and should do something, follow the "keep-them-talking-forever" strategy, paying lip-service only to investor protection. The new OSC IAP amounts to an exercise in co-opting some investor advocates. It's funny that the IAP should get a princely $50k when industry body IIROC is willing to put $3.75 million into FAIR The new Canadian Securities regulator doesn't look like it will do any better either, as this article by Independent Investor's Marc Ryan says -

I have to admit that I have not devoted much blog space in the four years I have been writing this blog (yup, the 4th anniversary just passed) or personal time to the investor protection system (though I have been burned by the great con of LSIFs and a company called, ironically, Intelligent Detection Systems). I just assume that investor protection essentially does not exist right now in Canada and instead look for financial products and services that are likely legitimate. There are a few I believe and my aim as a blogger is to find and write about them!

Thanks to Pamela, Ken, Marc, Peter and others labouring mightily on our behalf. Hopefully, one day a tipping point will be reached and that rock will reach the top to roll down the other side of the hill and knock down a slew of bad guys hiding over there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments and a bit too true. I feel that awareness has increased primarily due to the recent financial meltdown and sadly not due to the efforts of such advocates as Ken, Pamela and others. There are quite a number of individuals trying to make a difference and they are to be applauded. We believe that internet use must be developed by using blogs, twitter, etc.

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