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186 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE Crown counsel’s “obligations of objectivity and independence … are an essential protection of the citizen against the sometimes overzealous or misdirected exercise of state power”.10 Complementary to judicial independence, the independence of Crown counsel is “one of the more important checks and balances of our criminal justice system”.11 It is a critical feature when one considers the scope of Crown counsel’s authority, which includes: • the decision to initiate or continue with criminal proceedings; • choices made on what to charge, or the number of counts; • deciding whether to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment; • accepting a plea to a lesser and included offence, or withdrawing charge(s) in their entirety; • terminating a prosecution; • commencing an application for an indeterminate sentence designation; and • filing a Crown appeal from acquittal or sentence. In each of these decisions Crown counsel are expected to act independent of partisan concerns. In fact, they have a positive obligation to do so. In the words of the Supreme Court of Canada, “the law recognizes as constitutional the principle that prosecutors must not act for improper purposes, such as purely partisan motives”.12 The Act represents an important development in the history of the Branch, one that publicly acknowledges, safeguards and gives meaningful effect to prosecutorial independence. The silver anniversary of the Act provides a good opportunity to reflect on its continued contribution to the administration of criminal justice in this province. ENDNOTES 1. RSBC 1996, c 87. 2. R v Cawthorne, 2016 SCC 32 at para 26. 3. Discretion to Prosecute Inquiry, Commissioner’s Report: Volume 1 (Province of British Columbia, November 1990) at 85. 4. Ibid. 5. Hinse v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 35 at para 40. 6. See the Honourable Marc Rosenberg, “The Attorney General and the Administration of Criminal Justice” (2009) 34:2 Queen’s LJ 813. 7. Russ Fraser, Changes to the Justice System Memorandum (Victoria, BC: Ministry of Attorney General). 8. Discretion to Prosecute Inquiry, Commissioner’s Report: Volume 1 (Province of British Columbia, March 1991) at 107. 9. Krieger v Law Society of Alberta, 2002 SCC 65 at paras 29–30. See also Miazga v Kvello Estate, 2009 SCC 51; R v Nixon, 2011 SCC 34; R v Anderson, 2014 SCC 41. 10. R v Regan, 2002 SCC 12 at para 157, Binnie J (dissenting, but not on this point). 11. Ibid. 12. R v Cawthorne, supra note 2 at para 26. t t t t t


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