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Creating a Director of Public Prosecutions

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On April 11, 2006, the Government of Canada introduced the Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan, delivering on its commitment to make government more accountable. The Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006. This is one of a series of fact sheets describing proposed actions to respond to this commitment.

The context

It is important for transparency and integrity in government that the principle of independence of the prosecution function from the Attorney General of Canada and the political process be enshrined in legislation. Prior to passage of the Federal Accountability Act, Crown counsel within the Federal Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice and legal agents prosecuted federal offences throughout Canada, and provided legal advice to investigative agencies and government departments in matters of criminal law.

What this means for Canadians

The new Public Prosecution Service of Canada model reflects the best features of similar offices that currently exist in three Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Quebec) and in several countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada has independence to pursue prosecutions under federal law and will report to Canadians on its performance.

The Action Plan

Effective December 12, 2006, the Federal Accountability Act:

  • creates the Director of Public Prosecutions Act and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada that resides outside the Department of Justice;
  • gives the Director of Public Prosecutions jurisdiction to conduct prosecutions for offences under federal jurisdiction, including new fraud provisions under the Financial Administration Act;
  • gives the Director the power to make binding and final decisions on whether to prosecute, unless the Attorney General instructs the Director to do otherwise by means of public written notice; and
  • requires that the Director submit an annual report to the Attorney General for tabling in Parliament.

In addition, through the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the Government will review lessons learned and best practices for prosecuting cases of fraud involving governments, in collaboration with other jurisdictions in Canada and international partners.

For more information

For more information on this specific measure, please refer to the relevant section of the Action Plan, or contact us.

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