Criminal Law Policy Function Evaluation

1. Introduction

The Criminal Law Policy Section (“CLPS” or the “Section”), within the Policy Sector of the Department of Justice Canada (the “Department”) is the federal centre of expertise on criminal law and procedure including offences, enforcement powers, and sentencing and is jointly responsible with other units for advising the government on other policy and legal areas such as national security and terrorism.

CLPS’ mandate is two-fold and includes supporting the Minister of Justice in the development of criminal law and criminal justice policy and advising the Government of Canada on criminal law and criminal law policy issues.

The main activities of the Section revolve around developing policy in relation to the Criminal Code. This involvessupporting the Minister of Justice throughout the Cabinet and Parliamentary processes (e.g. in preparing submissions, briefing material, speeches), monitoring the progress of legislation and appearing as departmental witnesses before Parliamentary committees. Although the Section’s core policy mandate largely focuses on the Criminal Code, it also leads or assists with the development of amendments to a number of other statutes, including the:

  • Anti-terrorism Act;
  • Canada Evidence Act;
  • Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
  • Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act;
  • Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act;
  • Extradition Act;
  • Identification of Criminals Act;
  • Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act; and the
  • Security of Information Act.

The Section also provides legal and legal policy advisory services to other government departments. In the case of the former, CLPS will provide advice with respect to the federal criminal law power, for example on the establishment of criminal or regulatory offences, schemes and penalties and advice on how to apply the Criminal Code in an operational context. In the case of the latter, CLPS will be called upon to provide advice to the client directly as a policy counterpart, either during the policy development stage or during the subsequent drafting of legislation.

Internationally, the Section participates in bilateral and international meetings dealing with criminal justice issues, advises on the development of international criminal law resolutions, standards and instruments in an effort to ensure that they are consistent with Canadian criminal justice norms and values, provides technical assistance and expertise and evaluates other countries’ compliance with international criminal law instruments. The Section also provides extensive support to senior officials and to the Minister of Justice when they participate in meetings with their international counterparts.

The evaluation of CLPS was conducted between November 2012 and December 2013. This is the first evaluation of the Section, and the first major policy function evaluation within the Department under the 2009 Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation.

1.1 Context for the Evaluation

The 2009 Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation requires that all direct program spending be covered by evaluation. Since evaluation coverage tended to focus primarily, although not exclusively, on transfer payment programs prior to the implementation of the 2009 Policy on Evaluation, the policy work conducted by CLPS was an area yet to be fully covered by evaluation. Although CLPS has been involved in evaluations of specific initiatives such as Measures to Combat Organized Crime, Public Safety and Anti-Terrorism, and Integrated Market Enforcement Teams, a formal evaluation of its policy function had never been conducted.

Scope of the Evaluation

The evaluation focused on the Section’s activities from 2008-09 to 2012-13. However, some projects or work within the evaluation period had begun earlier, some with completion dates beyond the five-year evaluation period. The Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI), which is part of CLPS, was not included in this evaluation as its work is already covered by the performance measurement strategy for the Federal Victims Strategy. However, the support provided to CLPS by the Department’s Research and Statistics Division is included in the evaluation.

In accordance with the 2009 Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation, the primary purpose of the evaluation was to assess the relevance and performance of the Section. In terms of relevance, the evaluation considered the continued need for the Section and the alignment of its priorities and activities with government priorities, departmental strategic outcomes, and federal roles and responsibilities. With regard to performance, the evaluation considered both effectiveness (i.e. the extent to which the Section has achieved its intended outcomes) and efficiency and economy (i.e. the degree to which appropriate and efficient means are being employed to achieve the desired outcomes). The focus of the evaluation was on the policy function, that is, the work done by the Section in relation to policy issues identification, research, analysis, options and positions development, advisory services, monitoring and supporting policy implementation and engagement with stakeholders in the policy process. The evaluation did not assess the content or outcomes of particular policies.

1.2 Structure of the Report

This report contains five sections, including the introduction. Section 2 provides the background on the Criminal Law Policy Section, describing its structure, resources, services, and the logic behind its activities. Section 3 describes the methodology used in the evaluation. Section 4 summarizes the key findings, and Section 5 presents the conclusions, recommendations and management response.

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