Prosecutions under Federal Statutes

Prosecutions under Federal Statutes

DATE: May 20, 2008



This guideline reflects the content of an Agreement reached between Neil McCrank, Q.C., Deputy Attorney General, and David Gates, Regional Director, Federal Department of Justice (as it then was), dated March 15, 1990, regarding Federal/Provincial cooperation in the prosecution of offences in Alberta.

In addition, Crown prosecutors in the Criminal Justice Division of Alberta Justice will not prosecute any charges under the federal Firearms Act.



  1. The Criminal Justice Division of Alberta Justice will prosecute charges arising pursuant to the following Federal Statutes:
    1. Criminal Code of Canada;
    2. Young Offenders Act;
    3. Youth Criminal Justice Act
  2. The Criminal Justice Division will also prosecute low volume federal offences, such as those under the following Acts:
    1. Fisheries Act;
    2. Indian Act;
    3. Migratory Birds Convention Act;
    4. Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987;
    5. Canada Student Loans Act;
    6. Radiocommunication Act; and
    7. Canada National Parks Act (where there is not a federally appointed standing agent).

on an ad hoc basis as Agent of the Attorney General of Canada. However, where unusual or sensitive facts arise in a given case, including constitutional challenges to the federal legislation or where a case is particularly resource-consuming, the case may be taken over by a federal prosecutor, following consultation with the Senior Counsel in charge of criminal prosecutions with the PPSC.

  1. High volume federal offences such as those under the following Acts:
    1. Controlled Drugs and Substances Act;
    2. Food and Drugs Act;
    3. Income Tax Act;
    4. Competition Act;

will be handled by federal prosecutors.

  1. Offences under by-laws enacted pursuant to federal legislation will be prosecuted by federal prosecutors.
  2. Where a federal prosecution, not specifically referred to above, arises on a rural docket, the provincial Crown prosecutor will speak to the matter by seeking an adjournment for fixation of a trial date to ensure that the case is not dismissed for want of prosecution.
  3. Where counsel for the Attorney General of Alberta is acting as Agent of the Attorney General of Canada and feels that on the facts of a particular case a stay of proceedings, withdrawal or reduction in charges is appropriate, he or she (or the police in emergent situations on a docket) may exercise his or her discretion as provided for in the guidelines Terminating Proceedings and Disposition Agreements Between Crown and Defence.
  4. In certain types of particularly sensitive cases, such as those involving the pollution of the environment and the transportation of dangerous goods, both the Attorney General of Alberta and the Attorney General of Canada will be instructing their own counsel to assume conduct of concurrent resulting prosecutions.


  1. Where a trial has been conducted by counsel for the Attorney General of Alberta, as Agent of the Attorney General of Canada, and an adverse decision was reached by the court and prosecuting counsel is of the opinion that consideration should be given to filing an appeal, he or she shall, as soon as practicable provide a report to the PPSC with a recommendation concerning potential appeal. Thereafter, the decision to launch an appeal and the conduct of the appeal will fall to the Attorney General of Canada.

Where the appeal raises constitutional questions, particularly those involving Native wildlife rights, the PPSC will consult with the Alberta Department of Justice, Constitutional Law Section in recognition of the common interests that both offices have in these types of cases.

Multiple Charges

  1. Prosecution of multiple charges arising out of the same circumstances should, in most cases, be undertaken by one Crown Prosecutor. Ordinarily, the Crown office having conduct of the more complex prosecution should attend to all matters. In most cases, the determination of that issue will be decided by the Crown Prosecutors originally assuming conduct of the respective cases, but should they be unable to reach an agreement, the questions shall be referred to the Assistant Deputy Minister (Criminal Justice), Province of Alberta and the Senior Counsel in charge of prosecutions with the PPSC for decision. In the event that no decision is reached at that level, the offences shall be prosecuted separately.

This will mean, for instance, that where out of the same circumstances a charge of simple possession of marijuana and one of robbery has been laid, counsel for the Attorney General of Alberta will have conduct of both. Conversely, where the drug charge is considered to be the more serious one, counsel for the Attorney General of Canada will assume conduct of both.

Counsel for the Attorney General of Canada will act as Agent of the Attorney General of Alberta when he or she assumes conduct of Criminal Code prosecutions in such circumstances. Similarly, will counsel for the Attorney General of Alberta act as Agent of the Attorney General of Canada when he or she assumes conduct of non-Criminal Code, federal prosecutions.

Where one office assumes conduct of all charges, the procedure respecting consultation, proposed appeals, stays and reductions set out in #6 and #8 above apply.

Young Persons

  1. The Alberta Department of Justice will be responsible for the prosecution of all federal offences involving young offenders. In practical terms, this will generally involve prosecutions pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Food and Drugs Act, together with all appeals arising therefrom. The Attorney General of Alberta may seek the assistance of the PPSC in the conduct of certain non-Criminal Code cases due to their complexity or length.

As the PPSC has an ongoing interest in the development of the law as it affects Federal statutes, provincial Crown Prosecutors will provide to the PPSC copies of all notices of appeal filed in the Court of Appeal with respect to drug prosecutions involving young offenders. Additionally, notice will be provided to the PPSC in any cases of importance that are appealed to the Court of Queen's Bench. In some cases, the Attorney General of Canada may wish to intervene in the case, particularly at the Court of Appeal level.