Overview of Canadian Law Structure
In Canada the power to make criminal law is exclusively federal,
but provinces can create offences necessary for matters over which
they have jurisdiction. This includes "property and civil rights",
which most provinces have used to regulate local commerce and deceptive
Fraud and other federal Criminal Code offences are prosecuted
by the Provincial Attorneys General, but federal offences under other
statutes (Competition Act, Income Tax Act, Customs
Act, Telecommunications Act) are prosecuted federally.
1997 Criminal Code changes created a new federal jurisdiction
to prosecute Criminal Code offences committed by "criminal
organizations", which would include most telemarketing cases.
Prosecutors in Canada have to file a separate legal case for every
individual the telemarketers defrauded. By contrast, in the United
States, legal authorities can bundle all individual instances of
fraud into one massive case.
Provincial offences. Canadian provinces have no
power to enact criminal law, but may create offences dealing with "property
and civil rights", which includes many commercial activities.
Eight of the ten provinces have enacted offence and regulatory provisions
dealing with unfair or deceptive trade practices.
These are minor in comparison with the Criminal Code fraud
offences and punishments, but are also subject to a lower procedural
standard under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
which makes them easier to prosecute.
Maximum fines range from C$2,000-$100,000, with imprisonment up
to three years. Conduct such as inflating prices or taking advantage
of particularly vulnerable consumers, not usually elements of fraud,
are included in several.