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Description found in Archives
Place of creation
No place, unknown, or undetermined
120 microfilm reels
9 architectural drawings
3 technical drawings
Added language of material: French
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Department of Justice and its predecessors. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description.
Copyright belongs to the Crown. Credit Library and Archives Canada.
Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the NA website). (Other)
Biography / Administrative history
The Department of Justice was created by "An Act respecting the Department of Justice", adopted during the first session of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada and assented to on 22 May 1868 (31 Vic., c.39). The Act defined the responsibilities of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, which have remained essentially the same to the present.
The objectives of the Department are to provide legal service to the government of Canada, its departments and agencies; to oversee the administration of justice in Canada within its jurisdictional rights, that is outside provincial and territorial jurisdictions; and to initiate policies and programs which aim to promote an accessible, equitable and efficient system of justice.
The Minister of Justice is ex officio Attorney General of Canada and in this dual capacity carries out two distinct functions. The Minister of Justice formulates policy pertaining to substantive law; implements policies through program initiatives; reviews the legal implications of government bills, regulations, and departmental directives; advises on legislation and proceedings in the provincial legislatures; and works to maintain an equitable justice system. The Attorney General protects the interests of the Crown by giving legal advice to federal departments and agencies, litigating for the government, drafting federal legislation, and prosecuting violations of federal law, except in cases of violation of the Criminal Code within the provinces.
Throughout the course of its existence, the Department of Justice has had responsibility for various agencies and activities pertaining to law enforcement and reform. The office of Solicitor General of Canada, created by an act in 1892 to assist the Minister of Justice, was within the Department of Justice until 1966 when it became a separate department. With the office vacant from October 1935 to April 1945, the Attorney General carried out the duties of the Solicitor General, and again from August 1950 to October 1952 the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General exercised the responsibilities of that office (P.C.3857). Received from the Secretary of State in December 1953 (P.C.1979), the Department of Justice administered the Criminal Code, the Penitentiaries Act, and the Ticket-of-Leave Act, the latter becoming in 1959 a separate agency, the National Parole Board. In July 1957, Section 666 of the Criminal Code became the responsibility of the Solicitor General (P.C.929), who also received the administration of federal penitentiaries and parole in December 1965 (P.C.2286). Application of sections of the Narcotics Control Act and the Food and Drugs Act passed from National Health and Welfare to the Attorney General in March 1978 (P.C.732).
From its inception in 1873 (P.C.1134), the North West Mounted Police was under the control of the Department of Justice until April 1876 when it was transferred to the Secretary of State (P.C.364). Justice again administered the renamed Royal Canadian Mounted Police from 1921 (P.C.3603) to 1965 except from 10 February (P.C.324) to 26 April 1922 (P.C.923), during which time it reported to the Minister of Militia and Defence. In January 1966 administration of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police became the charge of the Solicitor General (P.C.2286). The Department of Justice was also responsible for the Dominion Police, which was formed as a security and intelligence force in 1868 and was absorbed into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1919.
In September 1945 the administration of the Combines Investigation Act, created in 1910, was transferred from the Department of Labour to the Department of Justice (P.C.6206). Amendments to the Act in 1952 (1 Eliz. II, c.39) created the offices of Restrictive Trade Practices Commission and Director of Investigation and Research. The Combines Investigation Branch was transferred from the Department of Justice to the Privy Council Office in December 1965 (P.C.2281) and two years later was placed under the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, which was created in the same year (16 Eliz. II, c.16). The Department of Justice received responsibility for the Bankruptcy Act from the Secretary of State in April 1947 (P.C.1293) but this was passed on to Consumer and Corporate Affairs in 1969.
The Tax Review Board reported to the Minister of Justice from the time it was formed in 1970 until its integration with the Tax Court of Canada in 1983. The Canadian Unity Information Office came under control of the Department of Justice from the Secretary of State in December 1978 (P.C.3652) and passed to Supply and Services in September 1984 (P.C.3201). Finally, the Law Reform Commission of Canada, an independent body created in 1971 to review legislation and regulations in order to improve, modernize, and reform the laws, presented its annual report to the Minister of Justice until the Commission was abolished in 1992.
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