Compliance and enforcement policy for wildlife legislation: chapter 4
Authorities Responsible for Implementing Legislation
Federal Minister of the Environnment
The Minister of the Environment is responsible for administering the Migratory Birds Convention Act,1994, the Canada Wildlife Act, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act and the Species at Risk Act.
To ensure compliance with the regulations set forth in legislation, the Minister designates federal, provincial and territorial employees as enforcement officers. Appointees include EC enforcement officers, members of the RCMP, fishery officers, parks officers, customs officers and conservation officers of provincial and territorial governments, where applicable, with their full agreement.
Of the various officials who administer the legislation, the enforcement officers have the most frequent and direct contact with individuals and companies affected by departmental legislation and regulations. Officers have five principal duties:
- conducting information and awareness activities;
- conducting inspections to verify compliance with the law;
- reviewing options for preventative and corrective actions and explaining legal requirements, for example by warning individuals or companies of potential violations;
- conducting investigations for evidence of violations and responding to known violations, for example by issuing tickets, seizing specimens or prosecuting; and
- providing assistance to a Crown prosecutor during the preparation and conduct of legal procedures.
The legislation empowers officers to, among other things, enter premises to inspect, search, seize and detain items related to the acts, require the production of records, and issue tickets. Under certain circumstances, officers also have the power to arrest suspected violators.
Although some officers may specialize in investigating offences or in performing inspections, all will be trained to conduct the five principal duties described above. If, during inspections, officers must shift to investigation or to taking corrective action, they will inform the individual or company being inspected.
Department of the Attorney General
The Attorney General of Canada or the Attorney General of the province in jurisdictions where provincial Crown attorneys prosecute these offences are responsible for all prosecutions. While enforcement officers may lay charges for offences, it is the Attorney General who decides whether to proceed with prosecution.
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