3. Regional Profiles

Overview

The PPSC has 11 regional offices across the country, 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).

Files by Offence Type – All PPSC regional offices
  Files Involving Drug-Related Offences (64,456) (55%) Files Involving Criminal Code Offences (31,172) (27%) Files Involving Regulatory Offences and Economic Offenses (13,668) (12%) Files Involving Proceeds of Crime and Offence-Related Property (6,933) (6%) Files Involving Other Offence Types (925) (1%)
  64456 31172 13668 6933 925
Time Spent by Offence Type – All PPSC regional offices
  Files Involving Drug-Related Offences (792,728) (45%) Files Involving Criminal Code Offences (431,186) (25%) Files Involving Regulatory Offences and Economic Offenses (270,162) (15%) Files Involving Proceeds of Crime and Offence-Related Property (207,746) (12%) Files Involving Other Offence Types (44,042) (3%)
  792728 431186 270162 207746 44042
Files by Offence Type – Regional offices located in the territories
  Files Involving Criminal Code Offences, including Homicides and Attempted Murder (8,484) (88%) Files Involving Drug-Related Offences (514) (5%) Files Involving Territorial Offenses (319) (3%) Files Involving Regulatory Offences and Economic Offenses (206) (2%) Files Involving Other Offence Types (169) (2%)
  8484 514 319 206 169
Time Spent by Offence Type – Regional offices located in the territories
  Files Involving Criminal Code Offences, including Homicides and Attempted Murder (88,439) (93.2%) Files Involving Drug-Related Offences (4,262) (4.5%) Files Involving Other Offence Types (1,329) (1.4%) Files Involving Territorial Offenses (488) (0.5%) Files Involving Regulatory Offences and Economic Offenses (401) (0.4%)
  88439 4262 1329 488 401
Files by Offence Type – Regional offices located in the provinces
  Files Involving Drug-Related Offences (63,942) (59%) Files Involving Criminal Code Offences (22,739) (21%) Files Involving Regulatory Offences and Economic Offenses (13,668) (13%) Files Involving Proceeds of Crime and Offence-Related Property (6,727) (6%) Files Involving Other Offence Types (706) (1%)
  63942 22739 13668 6727 706
Time Spent by Offence Type – Regional offices located in the provinces
  Files Involving Drug-Related Offences (788,465) (51%) Files Involving Criminal Code Offences (378,701) (24%) Files Involving Regulatory Offences and Economic Offenses (206,111) (13%) Files Involving Proceeds of Crime and Offence-Related Property (137,774) (9%) Files Involving Other Offence Types (43,641) (3%)
  788,465 378,701 206,111 137,774 43,641

R. v. Chehil and R. v. Mackenzie

R. v. Chehil and R. v. Mackenzie were two cases dealing with the use of drug detector dogs and the standard of reasonable suspicion. Chehil involved the use of a drug detector dog at an airport, while Mackenzie involved a drug detector dog used by officers during a traffic patrol. The two cases were argued by the PPSC in the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court found that the police had met the required legal standard of reasonable suspicion to justify the use of drug detector dogs. These decisions provide further guidance to police and prosecutors regarding the principles underlying the standard of reasonable suspicion.

Alberta

Employee Distribution
Employees 115
Lawyers (LP) 58
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 14
Program and Administrative Services 41

The Alberta Regional Office serves all of Alberta, with offices in Edmonton and in Calgary. The office of the Chief Federal Prosecutor and core corporate support is located in Edmonton. Approximately 60% of the regional PPSC staff are in Edmonton and 40% in Calgary.

Each office handles a full range of federal prosecution cases, including drug, organized crime, and regulatory and economic crime prosecutions, arising in the two major urban centres, as well as complex cases at circuit court points outside Edmonton and Calgary. Other general federal prosecution work outside Edmonton and Calgary (primarily drug prosecutions) is handled by the complement of approximately 29 standing agents.

There are centres of expertise in each office; for example, integrated market enforcement and major tax evasion files are handled in Calgary, while significant regulatory and environmental protection cases are handled in Edmonton. Agent supervision for the whole regional office is managed from Edmonton.

The Alberta Regional Office worked with specialized federal policing and investigative agencies to improve case management through pre-charge consultation, case viability assessment, and the use of the Report to Crown Counsel guideline for case preparation and management. The newest initiative for 2014 was the regional office’s full integration of PRISM (Prosecutor Information System Manager), the Provincial Crown on-line case management system, and the integrated Court Case Management system spearheaded by the Provincial Court of Alberta. Other innovative work being done in collaboration with the provincial Department of Justice included completion of a modernized major-minor prosecution agreement and development of electronic court brief and case management systems. Internally, work continued on the development of a system for full electronic case presentation and evidence presentation capability.

Atlantic

Employee Distribution
Employees 70
Lawyers (LP) 43
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 2
Program and Administrative Services 23

The Atlantic Regional Office (ARO) is the PPSC presence in the Atlantic provinces. The regional headquarters is in Halifax, with local offices in Moncton and St. John’s. Prince Edward Island is served from Halifax and by locally situated Crown agents.

Prosecutors in the ARO handle a wide variety of prosecution files. Work is divided among seven teams: three general prosecutions teams (one in each office), regulatory prosecutions, economic crime, agent supervision, and proceeds of crime/anti-organized crime. The general prosecutions teams were responsible for files such as Project H-Tort, which brought together several related investigations under the provisions of the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations.

R. v. Clarke, Colpitts and Potter continued to be the focus of the economic crime team. This prosecution is expected to go to trial in early 2015. Operation H-Timber was a large-scale drug distribution investigation and prosecution. Significant assets have been restrained and CDSA and proceeds of crime charges have been laid. R. v. Logan and R. v. Kelly Cove were two environmental prosecutions conducted by the regulatory team. Logan dealt with the illegal export of narwhal tusks, while Kelly Cove involved the use of illegal products in the commercial salmon fishery.

Increasingly, ARO prosecutors were called upon to provide advice and prosecution services in complex matters that involved sophisticated investigation techniques, frequently with many accused individuals. Many prosecutions involved cross border (provincial and international) transactions, which necessitated cooperation between various government agencies. The ARO noticed increasing use by accused individuals of leading edge technology, which challenged currently-accepted legal precedent.

The ARO has embarked upon a series of initiatives to allow regional prosecutors to perform their prosecutorial functions more effectively and efficiently. Agreements with the provincial prosecution services have been entered into to address procedural efficiencies. As well, the ARO has worked with investigative agencies to standardize disclosure and adopt protocols for dealing with electronic disclosure.

British Columbia

Employee Distribution
Employees 116
Lawyers (LP) 70
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 4
Program and Administrative Services 40

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 traveling to court locations across the province logged more than 600 nights away from home in 2013–2014.

The BCRO worked closely with the RCMP and the provincial prosecutors in the Criminal Justice Branch to develop common standards for the preparation of materials needed for court. Training and development of counsel continued to be a priority. Training was also conducted with the Criminal Justice Branch.

Many of the BCRO’s files in 2013–2014 continued to be major drug files involving organized crime. This included an attempt to buy $4 million worth of cocaine from an undercover RCMP officer and the importation of 100 kilograms of cocaine hidden in farming equipment. Counsel prosecuted more than 100 files related to marihuana grow operations that were discovered throughout northern British Columbia. Charges were approved in relation to a plan to set off explosives during the July 1st Canada Day celebrations at the British Columbia Legislature. There were a number of prosecutions of individuals who were alleged to have provided courses that instructed people on ways to evade the payment of taxes. On the environmental front, a major British Columbia city was convicted for illegally dumping untreated sewage in the water system, and a mining company was convicted in a similar case.

Manitoba

Employee Distribution
Employees 44
Lawyers (LP) 22
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 3
Program and Administrative Services 18

The Manitoba Regional Office (MRO), located in Winnipeg, provides services throughout the province. This includes provincial court in over 60 communities, superior court in six cities and towns, and the Court of Appeal in Winnipeg.

Approximately 85% of the files prosecuted in the MRO in 2013–2014 related to CDSA matters, ranging from low complexity matters to complex prosecutions involving criminal organizations.

Approximately 15% of the files involved prosecutions relating to tax evasion, copyright infringement, environmental offences and offences relating to the health and safety of Canadians.

Police investigations targeting criminal organizations increased, as did the sophistication of investigations. Examples of this kind of case included Project Sideshow, a Winnipeg Police Services investigation lasting over a year targeting traffickers of large amounts of cocaine, which resulted in the arrest of 20 individuals from Winnipeg, Toronto, and Vancouver. As of May 2014, the resulting prosecutions were in the early stages.

Project Deplete, an eight-month investigation by the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force, resulted in the arrest and conviction of 15 cocaine traffickers, with sentences ranging from three years to nine years.

The MRO remained committed to education related to the criminal justice system. PPSC counsel conducted police training, training at the Annual Crown Defence Conference, taught at two universities in Winnipeg, and made presentations at judicial training seminars.

National Capital

Employee Distribution
Employees 77
Lawyers (LP) 44
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 11
Program and Administrative Services 20

The National Capital Regional Office (NCRO) is situated in Ottawa and is responsible for all federal prosecutions in eastern Ontario, northern Ontario, and four judicial districts in western Quebec. The members of the Competition Law Section of the NCRO prosecute violations of the Competition Act across Canada. Its Agent Supervision Unit supervises the work of 46 agents in 25 law firms within the region.

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

While the number of regulatory prosecution referrals has decreased, the complexity of these matters remains high, as the investigative agencies focussed 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 and worked towards 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 53
Lawyers (LP) 25
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 2
Program and Administrative Services 25

The Northwest Territories Regional Office (NWTRO) is located in Yellowknife and serves the entire territory, an area of over one million square kilometres. Communities throughout the territory 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).

In 2013–2014, there were 36 Supreme Court jury trials in 8 communities, ranging from Tuktoyaktuk in the north to Fort Smith in the south. There were 90 Territorial Court circuits outside of Yellowknife, and 75 weeks of Territorial Court in Yellowknife. The Domestic Violence Treatment Options (DVTO) Court sat 23 times in Yellowknife, and as of April 1st, 2013, it also sat in Behchoko.

The DVTO Court enables individuals who have engaged in a relatively low level of violent behaviour toward a partner, and who accept responsibility for their actions, to receive support and counselling through a specialized DVTO program known as Planning Action Responsibly Toward Non-Violent Empowered Relationships (PARTNER). The program engages both men and women, and provides intervention by specialists who aim to help improve spousal relationships over the long term. The court bases its approach on principles of restorative justice rather than retribution and punishment. The DVTO Court has been in operation since 2011, and to date 33 people (26 males and 7 females) have successfully completed the program. A small number of Behchoko residents with domestic violence charges have been attending the PARTNER program sessions in Yellowknife, although they attend court sessions in Behchoko. The expansion of the program into other communities is being reviewed.

The success of the DVTO Court has prompted work towards the creation of a Wellness Court. This court will handle offenders with mental health and addictions issues. It is expected that a Wellness Court will be operational in Yellowknife in late 2014.

The NWTRO offered training to its prosecutors and Crown Witness Coordinators in Fixed Wing Aircraft Safety, Wilderness First Aid, and Arctic Survival, in intensive sessions conducted over three days and including an overnight wilderness component. Lawyers also received separate safety training in winter driving and skid control. Lawyers received media training, and lawyers and Crown Witness Coordinators received training on prosecutions involving child and vulnerable witnesses.

All staff had vicarious trauma debriefing sessions available to them. Vicarious trauma is commonly experienced by individuals who are indirectly exposed to traumatic events, either by listening to, or by witnessing other people’s suffering. It can affect all staff, whether it is the Crown Witness Coordinator or prosecutor who interacts directly with the witness, or the assistant who opens the file and observes the often disturbing photographs, or who later prepares the disclosure materials.

The NWTRO has dedicated resources to work on high risk and dangerous offender files. The team consists of a dedicated paralegal and a general counsel who review all relevant files to determine if an offender should be flagged in the National Flagging System and whether section 810.2 of the Criminal Code recognizances should be sought. Within the last three years, four individuals have been declared a dangerous offender in the NWT, each receiving an indeterminate sentence.

The NWTRO continued to partner with the University of Victoria Law School Co-op Program, and offered work placements to participating students. Three students from this program articled in the North, two with the PPSC and one with the Department Justice Canada, and two are now lawyers working for the PPSC – one in the NWTRO and one in the Nunavut Kitikmeot office based in Yellowknife.

Robert Bonnetrouge

Within the last three years, four individuals have been declared dangerous offenders in the NWT, each receiving an indeterminate sentence.

Robert Bonnetrouge was declared a dangerous offender in November 2013 and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment following his conviction after trial by jury for two counts of sexual assault and two counts of unlawful confinement. It was determined that there was no evidence to find a reasonable expectation that within a determined period of time he would no longer represent a danger to the public.

Mr. Bonnetrouge has appealed the decision.

Nunavut

Employee Distribution
Employees 46
Lawyers (LP) 19
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 1
Program and Administrative Services 25

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 for offences under the Criminal Code, with some regulatory, drug, and territorial offence prosecutions.

Crimes of violence, from assaults to homicides, continued to present the greatest challenge to the NRO. Fewer criminal charges were laid in the territory this year compared to last, but the severity of the files remained far above the national average. Vicarious trauma counselling was available to all NRO staff to help them deal with exposure to traumatic events.

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

The PPSC continued its work with the Rankin Inlet Spousal Assault Program, a program in which suitable offenders charged with low-level spousal assaults complete an intensive counselling program. Offenders learn to stop using violence and improve their relationships with their spouses and families.

Ontario

Employee Distribution
Employees 186
Lawyers (LP) 119
Law Management (LC) 3
Paralegals (EC) 21
Program and Administrative Services 43

The Ontario Regional Office (ORO) is headquartered in Toronto, with local offices in Brampton, Kitchener, and London. It serves a geographical area stretching from Windsor in the west to Trenton in the east, and northward to communities bounded by Georgian Bay and the districts bordering the Lindsay and Peterborough centres.

The region primarily handled files involving prohibited drugs. It also prosecuted various federal regulatory offences, ranging from environmental offences to bankruptcy and tax filing cases. The office also worked on significant anti-terrorism and tax evasion files. In 2013–2014, these included R. v. Hersi, an anti-terrorism prosecution, the Picard case, which involved charges under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, and criminal organization charges arising from Project Ink, which involved a scheme to import a tonne of cocaine per month into Canada.

During 2013–2014, the office’s caseload comprised 29% of the national inventory. At all complexity levels, more than 40% of its files were not concluded in the fiscal year. To reduce the time to bring prosecutions to a conclusion, the ORO has been working closely with law enforcement to improve the form and content of disclosure packages, and mechanisms for their production to the ORO.

Quebec

Employee Distribution
Employees 84
Lawyers (LP) 49
Law Management (LC) 2
Paralegals (EC) 10
Program and Administrative Services 23

The Quebec Regional Office (QRO) is located in Montreal, and includes prosecutors working with an Integrated Market Enforcement Team and an Integrated Proceeds of Crime unit in Quebec City. The QRO is responsible for federal prosecutions in all of Quebec’s judicial districts except those of the Outaouais and the Pontiac.

Prosecutors in the QRO dealt with a number of complex and high-profile prosecutions relating to organized crime, economic crime, money laundering, tax evasion, and national and border security. In 2013–2014, 378 of the office’s 1,470 files were of high complexity.

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.

Several prosecution files were handled under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, notably cases of false claims of residence in Canada.

A dozen specialized QRO prosecutors acted as agents for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for the purpose of obtaining authorizations for wiretap and video surveillance in the course of major investigations led by the RCMP in matters of national security, drug offences, and organized crime.

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 27
Lawyers (LP) 15
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 2
Program and Administrative Services 9

Saskatoon is the headquarters for the Saskatchewan Regional Office (SRO) with staff also located in Regina at the RCMP Integrated Proceeds of Crime unit. There are 80 court locations in Saskatchewan, and the SRO relies on standing agents to cover many of these courts.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2012 Saskatchewan had the highest crime rate of all provinces. Regina and Saskatoon had the second and third highest crime rates of metropolitan cities in Canada. Drug, proceeds of crime, and firearms offences were the predominant prosecutions in the SRO, with file numbers on the increase in northern and rural communities. Police investigative units continued to grow outside the two main urban centres, providing more work to the SRO.

The major file trend was gun violence associated with gang drug activity throughout the province. A second trend was the infiltration of transient drug gangs from other provinces with control of the trade and workers being directed from outside Saskatchewan. This makes both investigation and prosecution more costly and time-consuming.

The SRO prosecuted files in all areas of fiscal fraud such as income tax and GST evasion, with penalties ranging from fines to penitentiary sentences. Violations of federal regulatory statutes, including worker safety and environmental protection, increased for the SRO. The SRO also prosecuted offences occurring at the border in conjunction with the CBSA, and has seen an increase in firearms possession cases.

Yukon

Employee Distribution
Employees 32
Lawyers (LP) 12
Law Management (LC) 1
Paralegals (EC) 2
Program and Administrative Services 17

The Yukon Regional Office (YRO) is located in the territorial capital of Whitehorse. PPSC prosecutors in the YRO are responsible for Criminal Code, CDSA, and all other federal prosecutions within the Yukon Territory. The YRO covers 13 circuit court locations outside of Whitehorse, on an average of six times to each location each year, as well as the daily court in Whitehorse. In addition to the six regularly scheduled circuit courts, there are special sitting dates set as required for complex and lengthy matters. The Supreme Court sits in each community on a special basis, depending on demand. Prosecutors travel by road to all locations, except Old Crow, which can only be accessed by air. The circuits require prosecutors and Crown Witness Coordinators to travel away from home for an average of 4 days for each of the 13 circuits.

The YRO opened 1,694 new files in 2013–2014 and 92.8% of them involved Criminal Code offences. According to Statistics Canada, in 2012 the Yukon had the third highest Violent CSI (Crime Severity Index) in Canada. There was a significant volume of spousal violence and sexual offence files. Approximately 4.9% of the files were CDSA matters and 3% involved youth.

As a large number of offences in the YRO are related to spousal violence, the YRO continued to partner with the courts, the territorial department of justice, and legal aid in the operation of the DVTO Court, which is available in Whitehorse and in the community of Watson Lake. This Court provides a treatment-based approach to spousal assault matters. The YRO is also an active partner in the Community Wellness Court, which deals with individuals affected by alcohol or drug addiction, mental health issues, or a cognitive deficiency (including Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). In addition, the YRO partnered with the M Division of the RCMP and the territorial department of justice in organizing the First Annual Restorative Justice Conference in Whitehorse with participation from all of the 14 Yukon First Nations.

Because of the high rate of violent offending in Yukon, YRO staff are often exposed to difficult and sometimes traumatising situations. The YRO has a vicarious trauma counsellor on contract to provide mandatory vicarious trauma educational sessions to all new staff and ongoing vicarious trauma counselling to staff who request it. The counselling is done on a confidential basis and available to all staff in the office.

The YRO now has a paralegal dedicated to high-risk offenders to ensure that the office is an active partner in the national flagging of high-risk offenders, and that the office is adequately supported on all appropriate long-term offender and dangerous offender matters, as well as in the pursuit of judicial recognizances. With the high number of violent and sexual offences in the territory, these applications require dedicated resources.

The YRO prosecuted a particularly complicated first degree homicide file in 2013–2014, which took three months before a jury due to numerous experts and the presentation of a Mr. Big operation (an operation in which an undercover police officer poses as the leader of a criminal organization to encourage a confession). This matter resulted in a conviction on the charge of first-degree murder. The co-accused had been prosecuted successfully the previous year during a trial of similar duration.

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