Shaira Nanji, articling student, assisted in the preparation of this article.
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) recently released its 2012 annual report (“Report”) which provides an update on the OSC’s intentions concerning potential reforms to the regulation of director elections. The Report discusses how to strengthen “shareholder democracy” and shareholder voting rights with regards to the uncontested director-elections process. The Report supports an earlier proposal made by the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) in September 2011 which suggested that:
• directors of listed issuers are elected individually and not by slate voting;
• listed issuers disclose the voting results from shareholders meetings (even if the vote was done by raising hands); and
• listed issuers disclose if they have a majority-voting policy when electing directors.
The TSX proposal also focuses on majority voting for director elections and includes a “comply or explain” disclosure-based regime. Since shareholder voting rights have a “significant impact on confidence in the capital markets,” the Report notes that these proposed initiatives will result in greater transparency and accountability of boards of directors. The OSC plans to work closely with the TSX to improve the director-elections process.