The Department of Justice has the mandate to support the dual roles of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada.
Under Canada's federal system, the administration of justice is an area of shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces and territories. The Department supports the Minister of Justice in her responsibilities for 49 statutes and areas of federal law by ensuring a bilingual and bijural national legal framework principally within the following domains: criminal justice (including youth criminal justice), family justice, access to justice, Aboriginal justice, public law and private international law.
The Department also supports the Attorney General as the chief law officer of the Crown, both in terms of the ongoing operations of government and of the development of new policies, programs and services for Canadians. The Department provides legal advice to the Government and federal government departments and agencies, represents the Crown in civil litigation and before administrative tribunals, drafts legislation and responds to the legal needs of federal departments and agencies.
The Department of Justice was officially established in 1868, when the Department of Justice Act was passed in Parliament. The Act laid out the roles and responsibilities of the Department as well as those of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
The Department of Justice fulfills three distinctive roles within the Government of Canada. It acts as:
- a policy department with broad responsibilities for overseeing all matters relating to the administration of justice that fall within the federal domain—in this capacity, it helps to ensure a fair, relevant and accessible justice system for all Canadians;
- a provider of a range of legal advisory, litigation and legislative services to government departments and agencies; and
- a central agency responsible for supporting the Minister in advising Cabinet on all legal matters.
The Department of Justice Canada has two strategic outcomes that reflect the dual role of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada:
- A fair, relevant and accessible justice system that reflects Canadian values.
- A federal government supported by high-quality legal services
The Department of Justice Canada contributes to the achievement of these strategic outcomes:
- working with partners across the federal, provincial and territorial levels of government and with stakeholders across Canada to develop and maintain a fair, relevant and accessible justice system that responds to Canadians’ needs and expectations;
- ensuring a bilingual and bijural national legal framework for the administration of justice by developing policies, laws and programs to strengthen the national framework;
- providing ongoing funding to provinces and territories for the delivery of programs aimed at the day-to-day administration of justice; and
- providing legal services to the federal government and its departments and agencies, as legislated by the Department of Justice Act.
The Department is committed to delivering high quality legal advisory, litigation, and legislative and regulatory drafting services as demonstrated by timeliness, responsiveness and usefulness in accordance with established service standards.
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