The cornerstone of our legal system is the Canadian Constitution. The Constitution establishes Canadians' fundamental rights and freedoms and assigns various responsibilities to both the federal and provincial governments.
The Provincial Government
The Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General ensures Albertans live, work, and raise their families in safe and resilient communities through policing, crime prevention, victims’ services and correctional services. In Canada, provincial governments are responsible for:
- Administration of criminal justice
- Appointing Provincial Court Judges and Justices of the Peace
- Overseeing property and civil laws
- Is responsible for Métis
The Federal Government
The Canadian federal government is responsible for:
- Enacting and administering criminal law
- Enacting divorce law
- Appointing Superior Court Judges
- Is responsible for Aboriginals and land reserves
The roles and responsibilities of the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General are listed in these acts:
Roles and responsibilities in the legal system
Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
- Ensures safe and resilient communities through maintaining adequate and effective policing services.
- Promotes crime prevention activities and provides services to victims of crime.
- Maintains provincial correctional services as well as the responsibility for all adult offenders who receive sentences of less than two year, and young offenders.
- Senior law officer of the Crown.
- Responsible for legal proceedings under the Criminal Code.
- Responsible for Youth Criminal Justice Act and provincial laws.
Federal Minister of Justice & Attorney General
- Responsible for criminal proceedings under federal laws, other than the Criminal Code.
- Civil proceedings under federal laws.
Federal Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness
- Alberta contracts with this ministry to provide RCMP provincial police service and some municipal police services.
- In partnership, provides for funding of First Nations police services through tripartite policing agreements.
- Responsible for offenders who receive prison sentences of two years or more.
- Federal National Parole Board has jurisdiction to grant parole for all offenders.
Federal Judges - the judiciary branch of the government
- Preside over the courts.
- Ensure proper interpretation of the legislation, develop common law, determine the validity of laws, determine the facts and render decisions in a fair and impartial manner.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police--RCMP
- RCMP provides provincial, federal, municipal and First Nations police services.
- Responsible for protecting life and property, preventing and detecting crime, keeping the peace and enforcing laws within their jurisdiction.
- Provide crime prevention, education programs, assisting in locating missing persons, dealing with lost property, traffic control, victim assistance and accident investigation.
- Work with various police services to deal with serious crime, drug enforcement, intelligence gathering, organized crime and forensic work.
- Represent a client in a civil matter or act as defense counsel or prosecutor in a criminal matter.
- Regulated by the Law Society of Alberta.
- Have a duty to ensure that all legal issues bearing on a case are fully explored and properly adjudicated.
- Provide lawyers to persons who cannot afford to pay for them.
- Persons who receive legal aid are required to repay unless it would cause severe hardship.
- Responsible for prosecutions under some federal statutes such as the Criminal Code and under provincial statues.
- Responsibilities include determining appropriate charges, discussions with defence counsel, preparing witnesses for court, examination, and cross-examination of witnesses, presenting arguments, respecting conviction and sentence.
- Provided by both the federal and provincial governments.
- Adult offenders serving less than two years or who receive community sentences (fines or probation) are under provincial jurisdiction.
- Adult offenders receiving more than two years are the responsibility of the federal government.
- All young offender sentences are administered by the province.
- Offers a variety of services and activities in the community at various stages of the justice system.
- Engage in public education activities or speak out on social policy issues that relate to developing safe communities.