section 251(3)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Written consent from the Attorney General of Canada is required to initiate proceedings under section 251 of the Criminal Code for a vessel/aircraft or railway equipment within the legislative authority of Parliament.

SECTION WORDING

251(3) No proceedings shall be instituted under this section in respect of a vessel or aircraft, or in respect of railway equipment sent for operation or operated on a line of railway that is within the legislative authority of Parliament, without the consent in writing of the Attorney General of Canada.

EXPLANATION

Section 251(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada sets out the condition that must be met before any legal proceedings can be initiated under this section in the context of a vessel or aircraft, or in relation to railway equipment sent for operation or already being operated on a line of railway under the legislative authority of Parliament. The crucial stipulation in this section is that written consent from the Attorney General of Canada must be obtained before prosecuting any legal action in respect of such vehicles or railway equipment. In essence, this section seeks to safeguard the necessary regulatory control of the federal government over the means of transportation that fall within its legislative domain. Failure to obtain the requisite consent from the Attorney General of Canada before embarking on any proceedings could result in such actions being deemed as illegitimate. The requirement in this section is consistent with Canada's federalist structure, where areas of jurisdictional responsibility are demarcated between the federal government and the provinces. Furthermore, the provision provided in section 251(3) ensures that any prosecution under this section of the Criminal Code proceeds in a streamlined and coherent manner, allowing for effective regulation of transportation networks while complying with the federalist arrangement enshrined in the Constitution of Canada. This section serves as a reminder of the importance of respecting jurisdictional boundaries outlined in the Canadian legal system, in ensuring the effective and efficient administration of justice for all Canadians.

COMMENTARY

Section 251(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada imposes a limitation on the legal proceedings that can be instituted against a vessel or aircraft or railway equipment sent for operation or operated on a line of railway that is under the legislative authority of Parliament. This section is crucial as it places a responsibility on the Attorney General of Canada and ensures that there is a level of control over the legal proceedings instituted against such vessels and aircraft. The underlying rationale of this section is to prevent arbitrary and frivolous legal proceedings against vessels, aircraft, and railway equipment, primarily those that fall under the legislative control of Parliament. The section safeguards against misuse of the legal system and offers a vital check and balance to the prosecution system. The general idea behind the section was to ensure that prosecution could only take place after a careful examination and consideration by the Attorney General of Canada. The primary role of the Attorney General of Canada is to advise the government on legal issues and act as Canada's chief prosecutor. As such, the Attorney General of Canada is responsible for all prosecutions in Canada and must provide their consent in writing for legal proceedings against the controlled vessels, aircraft, or railway equipment. This consent is necessary for exercising the federal jurisdiction over such cases, which enables the federal government to regulate and oversee these modes of transportation. Section 251(3) also has significant implications on the Canadian justice system. By requiring legal proceedings against controlled vessels, aircraft, or railway equipment to be reviewed and approved by the Attorney General of Canada, it checks the powers of the prosecution and allows for an added level of protection for individuals against arbitrary prosecution. It is also essential to note that the Attorney General is bound to act in the public's interest and not for personal or political reasons. In summary, section 251(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada is an integral part of the Canadian legal system and provides a necessary check and balance mechanism for the prosecution system. It ensures that prosecution against controlled vessels, aircraft, or railway equipment is only initiated after careful examination and consideration by the Attorney General of Canada. This section offers a critical layer of protection against frivolous prosecution and safeguards individuals' rights within the Canadian justice system.

STRATEGY

Section 251(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada restricts the ability of prosecutors to initiate proceedings in respect of certain types of vehicles and equipment without the consent of the Attorney General of Canada. This provision has significant implications for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors and requires careful consideration of strategic considerations. One important consideration is the jurisdictional aspect of the provision. Since the provision applies only to vessels, aircraft and railway equipment that operate within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, it is crucial to determine whether the transportation system in question falls under federal or provincial jurisdiction. This determination will require an in-depth analysis of the applicable laws and regulations governing the industry. If the transportation system is under provincial jurisdiction, then Section 251(3) will not apply, and the prosecutors will have unfettered discretion to initiate proceedings. Another strategic consideration is the potential impact of the provision on the success of the criminal case. If the Attorney General of Canada withholds consent, the case will not proceed, and the accused individual will be acquitted. Therefore prosecutors must assess the strength of their case thoroughly before seeking consent to proceed. If the evidence is insufficient or doubtful, prosecutors may not want to pursue charges that are likely to be unsuccessful. This could waste resources and damage the credibility of the prosecution service. Another strategic consideration is the political implications of the provision. The Attorney General of Canada is a political appointee, and therefore consent to proceed may be influenced by political considerations. Prosecutors must be aware of the political dynamics and act accordingly. For sensitive or high-profile cases, it may be necessary to engage in additional consultations with political officials to ensure consent is granted. To navigate these strategic considerations, prosecutors may employ several strategies. One approach could be to pre-emptively engage the Attorney General of Canada before investigating or charging an individual. This will ensure that the Attorney General is aware of the case early on and can provide guidance or suggestions for investigations. Prosecutors may also want to establish a good working relationship with the Attorney General's office to foster effective communication and collaboration. Another strategy could be to obtain the consent of the Attorney General of Canada on a conditional basis. For example, consent may be made subject to the outcome of an ongoing investigation or the availability of additional evidence. This approach could help minimize the risk of losing a case while still giving the prosecutors flexibility in conducting an investigation. Overall, Section 251(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada is a significant provision that has far-reaching implications for prosecutors. To navigate these implications, strategic considerations such as jurisdiction, case strength, political dynamics, and effective communication can help prosecutors achieve success while safeguarding their resources and credibility.