Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook

Prosecutors possess significant discretion in the criminal justice system. To ensure public confidence in its administration, prosecutorial discretion must be exercised in a manner that is objective, fair, transparent and consistent.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada Deskbook (PPSC Deskbook) is a means of achieving this goal. It is a compilation of the directives and guidelines that provide instruction and guidance to federal prosecutors, whether employees of the PPSC or private-sector agents, in the exercise of their prosecutorial discretion. It is therefore essential that the Deskbook be consulted, understood, and adhered to by federal prosecutors.

In applying the Deskbook to the case before them, federal prosecutors make decisions without the fear of political interference or improper or undue influence. They are, however, accountable to the Director of Public Prosecutions and, through the Director, to the Attorney General, Parliament and ultimately, the Canadian public for the way in which they have exercised this important responsibility.

The Deskbook is a permanent work in progress: all federal prosecutors should be conscious of the need to suggest changes where policies are unclear or outdated. PPSC managers are obliged to monitor application of the policies to ensure they are properly applied.

The PPSC Deskbook is divided into two parts: Part 1 contains directives of the Attorney General of Canada and guidelines of the Director of Public Prosecutions; Part 2 contains confidential legal memoranda.

Part 1 — Directives and Guidelines. Section 10(2) of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act (DPP Act) empowers the Attorney General to issue directives respecting the initiation or conduct of prosecutions generally.

Section 3(3)(c) of the DPP Act provides the Director of Public Prosecutions with a general power to issue guidelines respecting the conduct of prosecutions generally.

As neither the power to issue directives under section 10(2) nor guidelines under section 3(3)(c) extend to Canada Elections Act prosecutions, guidelines in respect of those prosecutions are issued by the Director under section 3(8) of the DPP Act.

Part 2 — Confidential Legal Memoranda. These memoranda are issued by the Deputy Directors of Public prosecution and supplement the directives and guidelines by providing legal advice to PPSC counsel. The memoranda are privileged and therefore not made available to the public.

The publication of the PPSC Deskbook is the culmination of years of review and consultation. For the first time in nearly a decade, the policy guidance directing federal prosecutors has been completely updated to reflect changes in legislation and in practice. This effort represents a significant step forward, both in respect of the prosecution function specifically and Canada’s criminal justice system generally. I would like to thank all those involved in the preparation of this important document. I would like to offer a special word of thanks to Debbie Johnston for her tireless efforts in leading this project and seeing it through to completion.

Brian Saunders, Q.C.
Director of Public Prosecutions

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