Henry N. One goal that we as Canadians should sup- port is to see our banks as exporters of financial services. The issue in Canada is not really the number of banks we have, but whether the monopoly position given to the existing five with their high margins and their continued isolation from world competitive pressures in Canada should be allowed to continue--or whether our financial system should enter the 21st century.
At the same time, the average life span of a CEO seems to be shortening--perhaps to as little as three or four years. Bank mergers obviously involve considerable political risk. They pitched it to their key executives and stickhandled it through the "rigorous examination," in Barrett's words, of both boards of directors, starting early in January and going right up to 10 p.
If the banks are forbidden to merge, Cleghorn and Barrett say, foreign-owned giants could take over the homegrown industry, sopping up Canadians' savings while funnelling much-needed loans away from Canadian companies.
Alberta Treasury Branches operating as ATB Financial is a Crown corporation owned by the Alberta provincial government that was originally established in after the province's attempt to impose social credit policies on federally-regulated banks failed. It has much to do with the process as to how a decision can be arrived at.
But since the banks are entirely under federal control, and since the banks now control over 65 per cent of all equity underwritings, it would seem to me that the federal government has a role here, which they are not fulfilling. Well, the one thing we know is that change is always with us.