3 Regional Profiles

Overview

The PPSC has 11 regional offices across Canada, as well as seven local offices. Each local office is part of a regional office, and each regional office is headed by a Chief Federal Prosecutor (CFP).

R. v. Draziotis

On September 11, 2014, Georgios Draziotis pleaded guilty to one count of failing to record an oil spill in an oil record book contrary to the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Mr. Draziotis was the Chief Engineer of a bulk carrier that intentionally released a mix of oil and water in international waters before arriving in Vancouver. The Court fined Mr. Draziotis $150,000. In addition to the fine, Mr. Draziotis voluntarily compensated Transport Canada $30,000 for witness expenses.

Alberta

Employee Distribution
Employees 114
Lawyers (LP) 58
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 17
Program and Administrative Services 37

The Alberta Regional Office serves the province of Alberta, with offices in Edmonton and Calgary. In addition to in-house staff, the region also has approximately 30 contracted standing agents who handle drug prosecutions outside the two major centres.

The primary work in the region is drug and organized crime prosecutions, which often present complex Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues. There is also a notable volume of economic crime and regulatory prosecutions that are complex and integral to enforcement of federal laws. Toward the end of the 2014 calendar year, national security work became a new and high priority area of focus.

A number of regional initiatives have been put in place to improve efficiency and systemic integrity. They include a new major-minor prosecution agreement with the province, development of an online knowledge management site, a new case viability assessment plan to enhance efficient early case management, and development of an electronic case presentation and case management system. Both the Edmonton and Calgary offices have recently been connected to the online Prosecutor Information System Manager (PRISM) established by Alberta Justice that is used in conjunction with the existing Provincial Court online information system (Justice Online Information Network or JOIN).

Atlantic

Employee Distribution
Employees 64
Lawyers (LP) 41
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 3
Program and Administrative Services 18

The Atlantic Regional Office (ARO) is the PPSC presence in all four Atlantic Provinces. The regional headquarters is situated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with local offices in Moncton, New Brunswick and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Prince Edward Island is served from Halifax and by the use of legal agents.

The majority of the ARO’s litigation work involves prosecution of CDSA offences, often involving complex drug and proceeds of crime files where the use of significant investigative resources lead to challenging prosecutions. The regulatory team provides advice and prosecution services relating to a number of statutes, notably the Fisheries Act, which often involve significant issues related to Aboriginal rights claims. The economic crime team primarily prosecutes files arising from income tax fraud and tax evasion allegations, and there is also an ongoing major case arising from the Integrated Market Enforcement Team.

The prosecutors within each of these teams provide advice and prosecution services with respect to complex matters that involve sophisticated investigative techniques, frequently with many suspects. Investigations and prosecutions are further complicated by cross-border (provincial and international) transactions, which necessarily require cooperation between various government agencies. The ARO has noticed increased use of leading edge technology by suspects, challenging currently accepted legal precedent.

The ARO has embarked upon a series of initiatives to perform prosecutorial functions more effectively and efficiently. These include adjustments to the structure and staffing of teams, increased communication with investigative partners, and a continued emphasis on project-based prosecutions. The ARO has also established protocols with respect to issues of national security with all of the region’s provincial prosecution services.

British Columbia

Employee Distribution
Employees 110
Lawyers (LP) 69
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 4
Program and Administrative Services 35

The British Columbia Regional Office (BCRO) has four locations in Vancouver. Prosecutors provide prosecution services throughout the province, assisted by standing agents.

The work of the BCRO focuses primarily on drug prosecutions, economic crimes, and crimes which could have a detrimental effect on the environment or the health and safety of Canadians. Many of these cases arise outside the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and counsel travel throughout the province on a regular basis, including to northern British Columbia and Haida Gwaii.

The BCRO continued to work closely with the RCMP and provincial prosecutors of the Criminal Justice Branch on a multi-year project to develop common standards for the preparation of materials needed for court. Training and development of counsel continued to be a priority. The BCRO continued to work with other partners and with the courts to address workload and caseflow issues, to improve efficiencies.

Many of the BCRO’s files in 2014–2015 continued to be major drug files involving organized crime; however, there is a growing number of complex immigration and regulatory matters.

Manitoba

Employee Distribution
Employees 44
Lawyers (LP) 22
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 4
Program and Administrative Services 17

The Manitoba Regional Office (MRO), located in Winnipeg, provides legal advice and prosecution services at more than 65 provincial court circuit points, superior court in six cities and towns, and the Manitoba Court of Appeal in Winnipeg.

Approximately 85% of the files handled in the MRO in 2014–2015 involved CDSA offences, ranging from low-complexity matters to prosecutions of sophisticated criminal organizations.

The remaining files involved regulatory and economic crimes such as tax evasion, copyright infringement, environmental offences, and offences relating to the health and safety of Canadians generally.

Police investigations targeting criminal organizations increased, as did the sophistication of the investigations. In 2014–2015, 12 investigations targeted specific criminal organizations, resulting in over 100 arrests.

The MRO remains committed to education related to the criminal justice system. PPSC counsel taught at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba Law School, and also gave presentations to police and investigative agencies and at judicial seminars. MRO counsel also took part in career days and performed outreach activities at high schools in and around Winnipeg.

National Capital

Employee Distribution
Employees 90
Lawyers (LP) 54
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 14
Program and Administrative Services 20

The National Capital Regional Office (NCRO) is situated in Ottawa and is responsible for all federal prosecutions in eastern and northern Ontario, and in four judicial districts in western Quebec. The members of the Competition Law Section of the NCRO prosecute violations of the Competition Act across Canada. The NCRO’s Agent Supervision Unit supervises the work of 49 agents in 25 law firms within the region.

The majority of prosecution files in the NCRO related to drug offences. Street-level trafficking offences continued to be the focus of many municipal police services, resulting in a large number of file referrals. There were also major files focused on criminal organizations engaged in trafficking significant quantities of drugs.

Major files also included suspected terrorism and bid-rigging offences. An increase in referrals from the RCMP on national security files was noted.

While the number of regulatory prosecution referrals has decreased, the complexity of these matters remains high, as investigative agencies have focused their resources on the more serious offences. The provision of pre-charge investigative advice and legal training to various investigative agencies represented a significant part of the NCRO’s work.

The NCRO continued to work closely with its partners in the criminal justice system in enhancing the use of specialty courts such as the Drug Treatment Court and Mental Health Court. The NCRO worked toward the development of a special court to address the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders. Members of the NCRO met regularly with representatives of the Ottawa Crown Attorney’s Office and the Ottawa Police Service to develop improved methods for fulfilling the PPSC’s prosecution mandate.

Northwest Territories

Employee Distribution
Employees 45
Lawyers (LP) 20
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 2
Program and Administrative Services 22

The Northwest Territories Regional Office (NWTRO) is located in Yellowknife and serves an area of over one million square kilometres. It is responsible for the prosecution of all offences under federal legislation in Northwest Territories (NWT), and also conducts most prosecutions under territorial legislation. Communities throughout NWT are served by circuit in both Territorial Court and Supreme Court, and prosecutors travel by air to some 20 communities and by road to one (Behchoko – a community located 100 km from Yellowknife).

In 2014–2015, there were 17 Supreme Court jury trials in six communities, ranging from Inuvik in the northwest to Fort Smith in the southeast. There were 89 Territorial Court circuits outside Yellowknife, and 75 weeks of Territorial Court in Yellowknife. The Domestic Violence Treatment Options (DVTO) Court sat 21 times in Yellowknife, and also sat in Behchoko. In April 2015, the DVTO Court began sitting in Hay River.

The success of the DVTO Court led to the establishment in Yellowknife in October 2014 of a second specialized court, the Wellness Court. The Wellness Court Program aims to reduce recidivism and support chronic offenders by helping them deal with the issues that contributed to their criminal behaviour, such as mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, or cognitive challenges.

The NWTRO offered training to its prosecutors and Crown Witness Coordinators in first aid and winter driving. Prosecutors received media training, and prosecutors and Crown Witness Coordinators received training on prosecutions involving child and other vulnerable witnesses, and dangerous and long term offenders. Vicarious trauma debriefing sessions were made available to all staff.

The NWTRO continues to partner with the University of Victoria Law School Co-op program, offering work placements to participating students. Four students from this program articled in the North: three with the PPSC and one with Justice Canada. Two are now lawyers working for the PPSC – one in the NWTRO and one in the Nunavut Kitikmeot office, based in Yellowknife.

R. v. Wesley

Following a Department of Fisheries and Oceans investigation into “laundering” salmon (selling salmon as if it had been caught during commercial openings when it was in fact caught at other times or places), Glen Wesley, a commercial fisher and member of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, was convicted and sentenced for fishing in a closed time. The Judge was satisfied that the fisher was prepared to use his aboriginal right to food fish in an attempt to legitimize the illegal commercial catches. In addition to a significant fine, the Judge imposed conditions on Wesley’s fishing; prohibiting him from commercially fishing in the vast area claimed to be Lax Kw’alaams fishing territory, and placing tight controls on any food fishing (reporting and marking).

Nunavut

Employee Distribution
Employees 45
Lawyers (LP) 20
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 2
Program and Administrative Services 22

With a regional headquarters in Iqaluit and a local office in Yellowknife (serving the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut), the Nunavut Regional Office (NRO) oversees prosecutions in Canada’s largest and most northerly territory.

The majority of prosecutions in Nunavut were related to offences under the Criminal Code, with some regulatory, drug-related, and territorial offence prosecutions.

Violent crimes, including sexual crimes, assaults, and homicides, continued to present the greatest challenge to the NRO. Repeat offenders pose a serious concern to public safety. To address this concern, a paralegal was hired to identify potential dangerous offenders and, where appropriate, assist with the completion of dangerous offender applications.

Vicarious trauma counselling continues to be available to all NRO staff to help them deal with exposure to files related to traumatic events.

The Kitikmeot region of Nunavut continues to benefit from the proximity of the local office in Yellowknife, which has made it easier to maintain effective relationships with Kitikmeot policing organizations and community justice committees and allowed for more manageable court dockets and a greater ability to support potential witnesses in the region.

The PPSC continued its work with the Rankin Inlet Spousal Assault Program, a program in which eligible offenders charged with low-level spousal assaults complete an intensive counselling program.

Ontario

Employee Distribution
Employees 181
Lawyers (LP) 115
Law Management (LC) 3
Paralegals (EC) 22
Program and Administrative Services 41

The Ontario Regional Office (ORO) is headquartered in Toronto, with local offices in Brampton, Kitchener, and London. It is responsible for prosecutions in all of southern and southwestern Ontario, from Windsor in the west to Trenton in the east, and northward to Georgian Bay and the districts encompassing Barrie, Lindsay, and Peterborough.

Most of the files handled in the ORO involved drug-related offences. In addition, counsel prosecuted criminal organization, terrorism, and tax evasion offences, as well as offences under the Canada Elections Act and the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

In 2014–2015, the number of tax evasion files declined due to the recent restructuring of the CRA. An increase in Canada Elections Act and Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act files was noted. Counsel were also called upon to provide advisory assistance in the context of anti-terrorism investigations as the RCMP increased its activity in this area.

The region has initiated a protocol with the Toronto Police Service to provide early advice relating to files involving confidential informers. This protocol will lead to savings in police, prosecutorial, and court resources.

The ORO has also developed training for prosecutors on recent legal trends, best practices, new prosecution challenges in specific areas of prosecution, and expert evidence. The region offered this in-house program not only to counsel in the region but throughout the PPSC via webinars, thereby resulting in significant cost savings by reducing the need for travel and tuition fees.

R. v. Chun

On March 18, 2015, Sy Veng Chun and Leng Ky Lech were sentenced in the Court of Quebec to eight years in prison, and ordered to pay fines totalling approximately $9 million. This amount includes fines imposed on their companies, Peng Heng Or Gold Inc. and A & A Services monétaires.

They were found guilty on September 15, 2014 of 13 offences, including six offences in relation to money laundering and possession of proceeds of crime, and seven offences under the Income Tax Act. They were arrested in October 2002.

Cour du Québec judge Patrick Healey called the case “one of the largest and most complex prosecutions of its kind in the history of Canadian criminal law.”

Quebec

Employee Distribution
Employees 83
Lawyers (LP) 49
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 9
Program and Administrative Services 23

The Quebec Regional Office (QRO) is located in Montreal, with a few prosecutors working in Quebec City. The QRO is responsible for prosecutions in all of the Province of Quebec’s judicial districts, except those located in the Outaouais and the Pontiac.

Prosecutors in the QRO deal primarily with high-profile prosecutions, notably those related to organized crime, economic crime, money laundering, terrorism, tax evasion, and national and border security.

Prosecutors provided advice to investigative agencies on capital market fraud offences, in addition to conducting the related prosecutions. They also dealt with prosecutions under the Fisheries Act that raised complex issues such as Aboriginal ancestral rights claims.

QRO prosecutors conducted several prosecutions under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, including cases of false claims of Canadian citizenship.

The QRO continued to work with Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions in the prosecution of complex murder files, organized crime offences, and economic crime offences.

Saskatchewan

Employee Distribution
Employees 25
Lawyers (LP) 14
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 3
Program and Administrative Services 7

The Saskatchewan Regional Office (SRO) carries out prosecutions at 80 court locations in the province. In addition to PPSC counsel who travel throughout the province, the PPSC relies upon 11 agent firms. It also relies extensively on an agreement with the Attorney General of Saskatchewan to ensure resource sharing on files where there are both federal and provincial charges so that only one prosecutor is required.

The regional office is located in Saskatoon, with staff also co-located with the Integrated Proceeds of Crime (IPOC) Office in Regina. The IPOC unit deals with restraint orders and management orders for real property, vehicles, and cash, in conjunction with prosecutions involving the forfeiture or seizure of the profits of drug-related criminal activity.

Prosecutors in the SRO worked on complex drug trafficking and organized crime prosecutions, many arising from lengthy investigations involving the seizure of significant quantities of drugs and offence-related property.

SRO prosecutors were involved in advising on and prosecuting economic files, such as for tax evasion, and regulatory files, such as environmental prosecutions arising from oil spills. The SRO also prosecuted offences occurring at the 12 land border crossings with the United States, where there has been an increase in prosecutions for smuggling prohibited weapons.

Yukon

Employee Distribution
Employees 31
Lawyers (LP) 13
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 2
Program and Administrative Services 15

The Yukon Regional Office (YRO) is located in Whitehorse and is responsible for the conduct of prosecutions under the Criminal Code, the CDSA, and all other federal statutes in Yukon. The YRO covers 13 territorial court circuit locations outside Whitehorse, visiting each location an average of six times a year. In addition to the six regularly scheduled circuit visits, there are special sitting dates set as required for complex and lengthy matters, and the Supreme Court sits in each community on a special basis, as required. Prosecutors travel by road to all locations, except for Old Crow, which can only be accessed by air. In Whitehorse, territorial Court trial and docket sittings are set throughout the week from Monday to Friday, with bail hearings also set on Saturday and Sunday.

Of the files handled by the YRO, 93% involve Criminal Code offences. Yukon has the third highest rate of violent and sexual offences in Canada. Approximately 3.8% of YRO files involve CDSA matters and 3.1% involve the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

As a large number of offences in the YRO are related to spousal violence, the YRO continues to partner with the territorial Court, territorial department of justice, and legal aid in the operation of the Domestic Violence Treatment Options Court (DVTO) in Yukon, which is available in Whitehorse. It is open to offenders from elsewhere who are willing to reside in Whitehorse for the duration for the process. DVTO provides a treatment-based approach to spousal assault matters, with family violence and alcohol addiction counselling being the primary focus. The YRO is also an active partner in the Community Wellness Court. In addition, the YRO worked with the RCMP and the territorial department of justice in developing a pre-charge diversion program for communities outside of Whitehorse to foster partnership between the First Nations justice programs, the RCMP, the territorial department of justice, and the PPSC.

Given the high level of violent and sexual offences in Yukon, the YRO has a dedicated team of prosecutors and support staff to identify and address issues related to high-risk offenders. This team ensured that the office was an active partner in the national flagging of high-risk offenders and was adequately supported on all appropriate long-term offender and dangerous offender matters as well as the pursuit of judicial recognizances. In the past year, the YRO has partnered with territorial government agencies for an inter-agency working group and established a dedicated YRO team to handle matters involving violent and sexual offences against children and youth.

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