Province Marks Justice System Milestone

    150th Anniversary Of Law Creating Crown Attorneys

    TORONTO, Aug. 24 /CNW/ - Ontario is celebrating the Sesquicentennial of
the Upper Canada County Attorneys Act, a foundation of today's legal system in
Ontario, Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today following a four-week
educational conference involving Crown Attorneys from across the province.
    "Ontario's prosecutors are the best in the Commonwealth. These women and
men are highly skilled 'local Ministers of Justice' who are dedicated to
excellence, fairness and justice," said Bryant. "We are marking the
anniversary of historic legislation that significantly shaped our province's
justice system as we know it."
    In 1857, a decade before Confederation, the Upper Canada County Attorneys
Act established a network of local criminal prosecutors to act on behalf of
the Attorney General and the Crown. Today, more than 900 Crown attorneys,
assistant Crown attorneys and Crown counsel prosecute approximately half a
million charges each year.
    "Society places immense authority and trust in today's Crown attorneys,"
said Chief Justice of Ontario, the Honourable Warren Winkler. "We rely on them
to carry out their duty as protectors of justice with fairness and integrity."
    "The Crown Attorneys Act and its predecessor the Upper Canada County
Attorneys Act, continue to ensure that the work of today's Crown prosecutors
is recognized by law as objective and crucial to the administration of justice
in Ontario," said Greg Goulin, incoming president of the Ontario Bar
Association, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
    Ontario's precedent-setting Crown attorney system has been used as a
model in a number of other countries around the globe.
    "Our province's justice system is the envy of much of the modern world,"
added Bryant. "I am very proud to work with Ontario Crown attorneys. They are
dedicated to preserving this safe, just and civil society that we all

    Disponible en français




    Prior to 1857: The Attorney General was the Crown's chief prosecutor in
Ontario (Upper Canada) and frequently appeared in court in serious criminal
cases. The vast majority of cases were prosecuted by what was called a
"private informant" - the victim or another interested party. Often, no one
appeared for the Crown and many cases were dismissed.

    1857: The Attorney General for Canada West, John A. MacDonald introduced
the Upper Canada County Attorneys Act, establishing a network of criminal
prosecutors to appear on his behalf, which was on behalf of the Crown - Queen

    1858: The new law was proclaimed in force on January 1, 1858. Nineteen
prosecutors were appointed to represent the Crown by the Governor General, as
Canada was still a British Colony.

    1857 - 1867: While attorneys acting for the Crown prosecuted cases, the
death penalty had to be confirmed by the Colonial Office in England.

    1867: Confederation. Canada became a nation and John A. MacDonald became
its first Prime Minister.

    1892: The Criminal Code of Canada was passed into law. For the first time
in Canada accused people had the right to testify in their own defence.

    1909: The Crown Attorneys Act was passed, replacing the Upper Canada
County Attorneys Act.

    1914 - 1918: During World War I, as Ontario's population grew, the Crown
Attorneys Act was amended to create the first Assistant Crown attorneys to
help prosecute cases, first in the Toronto region, and later in other

    1964: The Crown Attorneys Act was amended so that Crowns were appointed
not to a county, but to the Province of Ontario. For the first time in
Ontario, Crowns were given the right to vote in provincial elections.

    1972: The first woman was sworn in as an assistant Crown attorney. (The
first female county Crown attorney was appointed in 1984.)

    1982: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted.

    Today, more than 900 Crown attorneys, assistant Crown attorneys and Crown
counsel prosecute approximately half a million charges each year on behalf of
the people of Ontario.

    Brendan Crawley
    Ministry of the Attorney General
    Communications Branch
    (416) 326-2210

    Disponible en français


For further information:

For further information: Greg Crone, Ministry of the Attorney General,
Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210

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