Federal Accountability Action Plan, April 2006
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Creating a Director of Public Prosecutions
- A new, independent Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute criminal offences under federal law
"The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will have independence to pursue prosecutions under federal law and will report to Canadians on its performance."
Why we are doing this
It is important for transparency and for the integrity of the federal justice system that prosecutions under federal law operate independently of the Attorney General of Canada and of the political process. Crown counsel within the Federal Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice and legal agents currently prosecute federal offences throughout Canada, and provide legal advice to investigative agencies and government departments in matters of criminal law. The creation of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will make absolutely clear the independence of criminal prosecutions from political influence by formally separating the Federal Prosecution Service from the Department of Justice.
The Federal Accountability Act will:
- create the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to reside outside the Department of Justice (the Director will be selected in a manner similar to that used to make the most recent appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada);
- give the Director of Public Prosecutions jurisdiction to conduct prosecutions for offences under federal jurisdiction, including new fraud provisions proposed under amendments to the Financial Administration Act;
- give the Director of Public Prosecutions power to make binding and final decisions on whether to prosecute, unless instructed otherwise by the Attorney General (to safeguard the Director’s independence, however, the Act will require that instructions to the Director from the Attorney General be in writing and made public in the Canada Gazette);
- give the Director of Public Prosecutions security of tenure; and
- require that the Director of Public Prosecutions submit an annual report to the Attorney General for tabling in Parliament.
In addition, we will introduce the following measures:
- We will initiate, through the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, a review of lessons learned over the past several years in Canada and best practices for
prosecuting cases of fraud involving governments. The review will involve interdepartmental partners, provincial and territorial counterparts, and foreign jurisdictions, and will
examine the various approaches and mechanisms used in order to:
- determine when a prosecution for public-sector fraud should be commenced;
- examine best practices for conducting these prosecutions;
- determine how the Director of Public Prosecutions can best work collaboratively with provincial and international counterparts; and
- make clear the seriousness of fraud involving public money, and the importance of pursuing fraud cases quickly.
The new federal Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions 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 Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will have independence to pursue prosecutions under federal law and will report to Canadians on its performance.
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