Canada's Aboriginal Justice Strategy is a superficial indigenisation of the Canadian legal system and does not reflect the most significant cultural aspects of indigenous justice (Alfred 1999, 62; Cuneen 2000, 10).
Both the criminal policy component advising the Minister of Justice and the criminal prosecution component of the Attorney General of Canada may be involved in the development of criminal law.
4.125 The IJI Secretariat told us, "Overall, the initiative, while complex, is not at substantial risk." It points, for example, to the progress being made on the National Index of Criminal Justice Information, the data standards, and various pilot projects at different locations.
4.126 The RCMP's Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) is the national system for a wide array of information that police and other law enforcement officials depend on to do their work. The information includes criminal histories; fingerprint data; and records of missing persons, stolen vehicles, and offenders on conditional release. A core objective of the CPSIN project is to replace the CPIC system with a national index of criminal justice information. The index would provide national access to essential information on crimes and offenders. In March 1999, the government approved funding of $114.7 million for this index over four years, starting in 1999-2000.
If the outcome of Aboriginal justice is the further integration of First Nations peoples into the Canadian legal system, then it is neither politically transformative, nor does it offer a radical alternative to previous assimilation practices (Cuneen 2000, 10).
Solicitor General Canada's response. Solicitor General Canada acknowledges that the complexity of the criminal justice system, with its many partners at all levels of government, makes it a significant challenge to deal with issues of effectiveness across jurisdictions and agencies. Success for such complex systems requires, in part, that everyone involved learn from best practices available and proceed in a consultative manner to address effectiveness issues in manageable segments. The Department is committed to working with its partners both within and outside of the federal government to maintain a high level of public safety in Canada.
Department of Justice Canada's response. The Auditor General's stated purpose for this study was to "identify key challenges facing the criminal justice system and how the system is responding to them." Conducting such a system-wide study is, without doubt, an ambitious undertaking. The study correctly points out that Canada's criminal justice system is complex and multijurisdictional, and the challenges it faces are similarly complex.
4.145 We believe there is a need to comprehensively assess the overall impact of the many changes being made to the criminal justice system. However, we doubt that such an assessment is possible with the national data and analytical capacity currently available. As a first step, the government needs to identify, assess, and make the needed improvements in the national capacity.
4.144 There is a clear need for criminal justice agencies to improve their sharing of information on crime, offenders, and victims. The Integrated Justice Information initiative addresses the need for information sharing on crime and offenders. It is about halfway to its scheduled completion in 2005. This is a complex and difficult initiative that requires the sustained commitment of many agencies to be successful. We believe that as soon as is practical, the government needs to conduct an assessment of whether expected improvements in information sharing are occurring.
4.143 The business of organized crime is lucrative and a major threat to the well-being of Canadians. Criminal justice agencies are developing a comprehensive strategy against organized crime, but they are doing it without all the necessary information on its nature and pervasiveness. Moreover, government agencies operate in an environment of continually emerging technologies and court decisions that both help and hinder their efforts and operations.
Paper presented to the Fourth International Conference on Restorative Justice for Juveniles, Institute of Criminology, University of Tubingen, Germany, 1-4 October 2000.
4.141 The criminal justice system is trying to respond simultaneously to diverse and significant issues affecting specific groups such as youths, women, and Aboriginal peoples. It is attempting new solutions, some of them controversial. For example, the federal government's new youth justice strategy is opposed by Quebec and Ontario. Several of the intended solutions such as crime prevention programs, diversion programs, and restorative justice initiatives are designed to reduce offenders' involvement in the formal system of criminal justice.
4.140 Criminal justice agencies in Canada have a history of operating independently. This reflects the Constitution's division of responsibility between federal and provincial governments and the separate legislative mandates of each agency. Their independence makes it difficult for the agencies to develop a shared vision and objectives for the criminal justice system as a whole and a co-ordinated, effective response to system-wide challenges.