Raison D’être, Mandate and Role
The Department of Justice Canada supports the dual roles of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada.
Under Canada’s legal 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’s responsibilities for statutes and areas of law that fall under federal jurisdiction by ensuring a bilingual and bijural national legal framework, principally within the following domains: criminal justice (including justice for victims of crime and youth criminal justice), family justice, access to justice, Indigenous justice, public law, and international private law. This responsibility is fulfilled through the development of laws, justice policies, programs and services for Canadians. The Minister is the legal advisor to Cabinet and ensures that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with the law.
The Department also supports the role of the Attorney General of Canada as the chief law officer of the Crown. In carrying out this role, the Attorney General represents the Crown and not individual departments and agencies and, therefore, seeks to protect interests for the whole of the Government of Canada. The Department provides legal advisory, litigation and legislative drafting services to the Government and federal government departments and agencies.
Mandate and Role
The Department of Justice Canada was officially established in 1868, when the Department of Justice Act was passed in Parliament. The Act sets out the roles and responsibilities of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, as well as those of the Department.
The Department of Justice Canada fulfils 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 strives to ensure a fair, accessible and relevant Canadian justice system for all Canadians;
- a provider of a range of legal advisory, litigation and legislative services to federal 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 approximately 4,960 dedicated, full-time equivalent employees. Some 65 percent of Justice Canada employees are located in the National Capital Region. The other 35 percent provide a strong national presence through a network of regional offices and sub-offices positioned across the country.
Almost half of departmental employees are lawyers. The other half comprises a broad range of professionals: policy analysts, paralegals, social scientists, program managers, communications specialists, executives and administrative services personnel.
For more information on Department of Justice Canada priorities, see the Minister’s mandate letter on the Prime Minister of Canada’s website.
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