1 The Public Prosecution Service of Canada – An Overview

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) is an independent and accountable prosecuting authority whose main objective is to prosecute cases under federal jurisdiction in a manner that is free from any improper influence.


The mandate of the PPSC is set out in the Director of Public Prosecutions Act. The Act empowers the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to:

For the purposes of carrying out these statutory responsibilities, the DPP is the Deputy Attorney General of Canada.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Act also empowers the DPP to:

The DPP has the rank and status of a deputy head of a department, and in this capacity is responsible for the management of the PPSC as a distinct governmental organization.

With the exception of Canada Elections Act matters, the Attorney General can issue a directive to the DPP about a prosecution or assume conduct of a prosecution, but must do so in writing and a corresponding notice must be published in the Canada Gazette. In turn, the DPP must inform the Attorney General of any prosecution or planned intervention that may raise important questions of general interest.

Mission and Values


The mission of the PPSC is to serve the public by:


In carrying out its mandate, the PPSC is guided by key values:

Assignments and Directives

On June 16, 2014, the Attorney General issued a directive instructing federal prosecutors and persons acting as federal prosecutors to follow the directives set out in the Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook. The PPSC Deskbook replaced the FPS Deskbook, a publication created by the former Federal Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice Canada, and the Attorney General’s directive also rescinded the previous directive instructing prosecutors to follow the FPS Deskbook.

The Attorney General did not issue any assignments to the DPP in 2014–2015, nor did the Attorney General assume conduct of any prosecutions.

Roles and Responsibilities

The PPSC prosecutes charges with respect to offences created by federal laws. Charges are laid following an investigation by a law enforcement agency. The PPSC is not an investigative agency and does not conduct investigations. The separation of law enforcement from the prosecution function is a well-established principle of the Canadian criminal justice system. However, cooperation between investigators and prosecutors can be essential, particularly in the context of large and complex cases. Certain investigative tools, such as an application for a wiretap authorization, are only obtained on application to the court by a prosecutor. As a result, the PPSC often provides legal advice and assistance to law enforcement officials in the investigative stage.

In all provinces and territories except Quebec and New Brunswick, the PPSC is responsible for prosecuting all drug offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), regardless of which police agency investigates the alleged offences. In Quebec and New Brunswick, the PPSC prosecutes only drug offences investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

In all provinces and territories, the PPSC prosecutes charges under federal statutes such as the Income Tax Act, the Fisheries Act, the Excise Act, the Customs Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and the Competition Act, as well as conspiracies and attempts to violate those statutes. In total, over 250 federal statutes contain offences that fall under the PPSC’s jurisdiction to prosecute, and the PPSC regularly prosecutes offences under approximately 40 of those statutes.

The PPSC is responsible for prosecuting all Criminal Code offences in the territories. In the provinces, the PPSC prosecutes a limited number of Criminal Code offences, including those related to terrorism, criminal organizations, money laundering, proceeds of crime, and fraud.

Under arrangements with the provinces, the PPSC may also prosecute Criminal Code offences that are otherwise within provincial jurisdiction when the accused also faces charges within federal jurisdiction.

Role of the Prosecutor

Prosecutors play a key role in the Canadian criminal justice system. This role is quasi-judicial in nature, imposing on prosecutors the duty to be objective, independent, and dispassionate. They must see that all cases deserving of prosecution are brought to trial and prosecuted with competence, diligence and fairness. Prosecutors must be of integrity, above all suspicion, and must exercise the considerable discretion bestowed on them fairly, in good faith, and without any consideration of the political implications of their decisions. Their role is not to win convictions at any cost, but to put before the court all available, relevant, and admissible evidence necessary to enable the court to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused.

About the Organization

As of March 31, 2015, the PPSC had 1,031 employees, 526 of whom were lawyers. In addition to staff prosecutors, the PPSC retained the services of approximately 183 private-sector law firms, or 410 individually appointed lawyers, as standing agents.

PPSC Headquarters is located in Ottawa, and the organization maintains a network of regional and local offices across Canada.

Organizational Structure

Organizational Structure graphic
Long description


Department of Justice Canada

The PPSC maintains a close and cooperative working relationship with the Department of Justice Canada. PPSC prosecutors consult Justice counsel in areas such as human rights law, constitutional law, Aboriginal law, and public law.

The PPSC relies on the Department of Justice for some internal and system-related services, such as payroll, library, and reception services. Memoranda of understanding have been developed to govern the corporate and legal services provided by the Department of Justice and the PPSC to each other.

Investigative Agencies

The PPSC provides advice to law enforcement agencies on request during their investigations. The early involvement of prosecutors during investigations ensures that investigators receive timely advice on the techniques they are using and that evidence is gathered in a manner that complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the laws of evidence.

Provinces and Territories

The federal and provincial governments share jurisdiction over prosecutions. This shared jurisdiction means cooperation and coordination are essential to the effective enforcement of the law. The PPSC and provincial prosecution services have standing and ad hoc arrangements that allow the prosecution service prosecuting an offence within its jurisdiction to also prosecute related “minor” offences that would normally fall under the jurisdiction of the other prosecution service. For example, the PPSC may prosecute a Criminal Code offence that is within provincial jurisdiction with the consent and on behalf of a provincial attorney general when it is related to a more serious federal charge. Similarly, provincial prosecution services may prosecute a federal offence when it comes about in relation to a more serious offence under the Criminal Code.

In the territories, all Criminal Code prosecutions are conducted by the PPSC. The PPSC also has arrangements with the territories to conduct certain territorial prosecutions.

Project Khemistry

Project Khemistry involved several individuals charged with drug trafficking and conspiracy to traffic offences as a result of an RCMP (K Division) wiretap investigation that started in 2010. Jason Croft and Jonathan Aldaba were convicted of conspiracy to traffic in wholesale amounts of methamphetamine after a multi-week jury trial, which involved several months of pre-trial motions. Mr. Aldaba was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Mr. Croft later pleaded guilty to other charges of trafficking in wholesale amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine and an isolated firearms incident, also arising from the investigation, and received a total sentence of 12 years. Mr. Croft is currently appealing his sentence. Their co-accused, Steven Whipple, was acquitted on the conspiracy charge; his case is under Crown appeal.

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