Section 2: The Year in Review
The period under review in this report begins December 12, 2006, when the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) began as a new and independent organization, and ends March 31, 2007. On December 12, 2006, the principal prosecution function of the Attorney General of Canada was transferred from the Department of Justice to the PPSC. The preparation and planning of prosecutors and staff resulted in a transition unmarred by operational impacts or delays.
The success of the transition can be attributed to the hard work and professionalism of the PPSC's staff. The PPSC is taking a gradual, phased approach to the administrative and corporate changes resulting from the creation of a new organization. This approach ensures continuity and a smooth transfer of functions and duties as the PPSC builds its organization.
Throughout the transition planning, the PPSC carried a caseload similar to that of its predecessor, the Federal Prosecution Service (FPS), which in 2006–2007 totalled some 59,000 litigation files. Of this total, 86.1 percent were prosecutions of drug, organized crime, and Criminal Code offences; 9.3 percent were prosecutions of federal offences to protect the environment, natural resources, and economic and social health; 1.0 percent were prosecutions undertaken to combat terrorism and transnational crime; and the remaining 3.6 percent were related to criminal litigation matters, including training and outreach activities.
A Phased Transition
The transition from the FPS to the PPSC involves three key phases:
- Phase One took place prior to December 12, 2006. It involved an assessment of the expected corporate and business needs of the PPSC, as well as the planning and preparation necessary to meet those needs.
- Phase Two started on December 12, 2006 when the Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent and when the Director of Public Prosecutions Act came into force. Start-up activities for the PPSC began and prosecutorial services were transferred to the PPSC while the Department of Justice continued to provide corporate and administrative services. This phase ended on March 31, 2007.
- The third phase, from March 31, 2007 onwards, will see the PPSC develop its corporate services model.
Directives and Assignments
To safeguard the independence of the PPSC, the Director of Public Prosecutions Act requires that all directives and assignments issued by the Attorney General be published in the Canada Gazette. On March 10, 2007, one directive and two assignments from the Attorney General to the PPSC were published.
Directive on the Federal Prosecution Service Deskbook
This Directive instructed all federal prosecutors and Crown agents acting as federal prosecutors to continue to apply the policies and guidelines set out in the Federal Prosecution Service Deskbook (FPS Deskbook). The FPS Deskbook contains policies and guidelines for prosecutors who act on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada. It was published when the FPS carried out the prosecutorial function of the Attorney General of Canada and is available to the public through the PPSC website.
Assignment on Best Practices
This Assignment gave the Director of Public Prosecutions the responsibility for developing a set of best practices for prosecuting frauds against governments. Since the PPSC's mandate includes the prosecution of the new fraud provisions in the Financial Administration Act, the development of best practices is a PPSC priority.
Assignment on Prosecutions through Agreement with Provincial Attorneys General
This Assignment authorized the Director of Public Prosecutions to conduct prosecutions that the Attorney General can undertake through agreements with the provincial Attorneys General, and to conduct, under the authority of provincial Attorneys General, prosecutions and related proceedings, including appeals of charges that fall under the exclusive prosecutorial authority of the province.
This assignment was given to provide greater certainty and to confirm existing practices under so-called “
major-minor” agreements, pursuant to which federal prosecutors receive authority to prosecute Criminal Code offences on behalf of a provincial Attorney General. This generally occurs where the Criminal Code offences are related to drug offences. Similarly, provincial prosecutors are authorized by these agreements to prosecute federal offences where the major offence is in the Criminal Code. Such arrangements are called “
major-minor” agreements because the prosecution service having carriage of the “
major” charge will prosecute the “
minor” charge as well.
Communications is a priority for the PPSC. As stated in the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, one of the responsibilities of the PPSC is to communicate with the media and the public on all matters relating to prosecutions. To this end, the PPSC has set and is achieving its communication goals with the release of its Report on Plans and Priorities 2007–2008, the creation of the PPSC website at www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca, the production of this annual report, and the ongoing development of its communications plan, which aims to increase public awareness of the PPSC and confidence in the criminal justice system as it relates to prosecutions.
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