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1. What is the purpose of the Contraventions Act?
The purpose of the Contraventions Act is to provide a procedure for the prosecution of failures to comply with federal provisions of a regulatory nature that reflects the distinction between these minor offences and criminal offences, and to alter or abolish the consequences in law of being convicted of a contravention.
2. WHAT offences can be prosecuted under the Contraventions regime?
Only those offences that have been designated as contraventions by the Governor in Council may be prosecuted pursuant to the Contraventions Act. To be designated as a contravention, an offence must be consistent with the underlying philosophy of the Contraventions Act which centers on the prosecution of the less serious federal offences. The short-form description of these designated offences and the applicable fine are found in the Contraventions Regulations.
3. WHAT IS A "less serious offence"?
What constitutes a "less serious offence" is not defined in the Contraventions Act. However, all offences that have been designated as contraventions share the following characteristics:
4. WHO CAN ISSUE TICKETS FOR OFFENCES LISTED IN THE CONTRAVENTIONS REGULATIONS
The Contraventions Act does not provide for the designation of enforcement authorities nor does it create new categories of enforcement authorities. Section 2 of the Act lists the categories of persons who are "enforcement authorities" empowered to deliver tickets. They are persons who are already empowered to enforce statutes and regulations. Their authority and the scope of their powers to enforce is usually found in the legislation that creates the offence.
5. WHAT HAPPENs to the fine REVENUeS? Can an enforcement agency share in these revenues?
The Act provides for the signing of agreements whereby the provinces can deduct from the fine revenues the costs they incur for the implementation of the Act. Any surplus is thereafter shared equally between the provincial and federal governments. The federal share of the revenues is deposited in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Act does not provide for any compensation to enforcement agencies.
6. Why is $500 the maximum fine found in the regulations?
A maximum amount of $500 for the fine was established on the basis of the provinces' experience in prosecuting by means of tickets. Their experience was that offenders were systematically challenging tickets when the fine was exceeding $500.
7. CAN A FINE GREATER THAN THAT the fine SET OUT IN THE CONTRAVENTIONS REGULATIONS BE IMPOSED TO A CONTRAVENOR?
Yes. The fact that an offence has been designated as a contravention does not preclude the Crown from prosecuting that offence under the summary conviction process of the Criminal Code. When an information is laid instead of a ticket being issued for a contravention the prosecutor may ask the court to impose a fine as high as the maximum fine set in the enactment creating the offence. In addition to the prosecution by means of a ticket, all provincial regimes provide also for a procedure similar to the "long procedure" found in the Criminal Code for the prosecution of offences where a higher fine is sought.
Proceeding by way of a long procedure is an exception that is appropriate only under certain circumstances. As an example, this procedure would be appropriate to seek a greater fine when the offender is a repeat offender. It could also be appropriate when the circumstances surrounding the offence are such that the fine set in the Contraventions Regulations does not reflect the seriousness of the contravention.
8. WHAT IS THE STATUS of the IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONTRAVENTIONS ACT?
The Contraventions Act is operational in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.
9. WHO PROSECUTES CONTRAVENTIONS?
In all provinces and territories, except Ontario and Quebec, the Attorney General of Canada is responsible for the prosecution be it through its Regional Offices or Crown Agents. Ontario and Quebec have chosen to prosecute contraventions under the Contraventions Act, in part to ensure the integrity of their respective offence schemes.
10. Which PROVISIONS OF THE CONTRAVENTIONS ACT ARE IN FORCE?
Although the Contraventions Act comprises more than 80 sections, only these provisions required to create an adequate legal framework to permit the application of a provincial or territorial offence scheme to federal contraventions have been proclaimed. These provisions are listed in subsection 65.1(2) of the Act and are the only provisions of the Act which apply in this context. They are: sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 42, 54, 55, 58, 59, 63, 64, 65, 65.2, 65.3 and 86 and paragraph 8(1) (a),(b), (c), (e) and (f), and subsections 8(1.1) to (7) and 17(4).
For authoritative information on the Contraventions Act, please consult http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-38.7/index.html .