Bruce A. MacFarlane, Q.C.
Bruce A. MacFarlane is a Canadian lawyer, author, scholar and teacher who,
throughout his career, has restricted his practice to the criminal law.
Called to the Bar in 1974 (Manitoba) and 1987 (Alberta), Mr. MacFarlane
spent his first 10 years as a federal prosecutor in Manitoba, pursuing
cases of drug trafficking, conspiracies, as well environmental and
white-collar crime. Appointed
as Director of Legal Services for the RCMP in 1982 at Ottawa, Mr.
MacFarlane provided independent advice to the Commissioner of the RCMP on
behalf of the Minister of Justice and, in 1986, was promoted to Director
of the Justice Canada regional office in Alberta.
Throughout this time, Mr. MacFarlane actively practiced before the
criminal courts in four provinces as well as the Supreme Court of Canada.
In 1988, he was appointed Queens Counsel by the Government of
Canada, and in 1989 he was appointed Assistant Deputy Attorney General in
Ottawa, with functional responsibility for all federal prosecutions in
Canada. In 1993 he was
appointed Deputy Attorney General of Manitoba, a position he held for 12
years until 2005. That year,
he was appointed Special Counsel to the Attorney General of Manitoba, to
advise and develop a system-wide strategy to counter the activities of
criminal gangs in the province. Most of his recommendations have since
been implemented, including amendments to the
Mr. MacFarlane was a founding member of HOPAC, a council of
independent Directors of Public Prosecutions from throughout the
Commonwealth that meets bi-annually to discuss strategic prosecution
issues of concern internationally.
In 2006 he left government, and was appointed Professional-in-Residence to
teach criminal law at the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, a role
he continues to the present day as a Sessional Lecturer.
In 2008 he was appointed by the United Nations at The Hague as
Amicus Curiae Prosecutor (the
first such appointment), and he continues to pursue criminal cases there,
in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Since leaving government, he has
been retained by provincial governments, the Government of Canada, law
societies and the United Nations to provide independent advice on criminal
cases where there was a perceived or actual conflict of interest in
Scholarly writings and other activities:
Mr. MacFarlane wrote the leading text on the prosecution and defence of
drug offences (“Drug Offences in
Canada) in 1979, which proceeded to a second edition in 1986 and a
third edition in 1996. It is
now updated semi-annually in loose-leaf format, along with co-authors Rob
Frater and Chantal Proulx. The
text is regularly cited by trial and appellate courts in Canada, including
the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. MacFarlane is also a regular contributor to the
Criminal Law Quarterly, and has
authored a number of articles on criminal law topics which have been
published by university law journals and the Canadian Bar Association.
They, too, have been cited and relied upon by appellate courts and,
in one instance, an article authored by Mr. MacFarlane was quoted with
approval by the High Court of Australia.
Mr. MacFarlane has held a number of other positions throughout his career.
He was appointed head negotiator to develop a modern extradition
treaty with Mexico, which was subsequently ratified by both countries and
has been implemented in practice.
He was a Commissioner at the Uniform Law Conference of Canada,
acting as Head of Delegation on behalf of Manitoba.
He was also National Chair of Statistics Canada’s “National Justice
Statistics Initiative”, a member of the National Crime Prevention Council,
and Co-Chair of the National Committee of Deputy Ministers of Justice in
Canada – which has responsibility for setting the national justice agenda
on behalf of Ministers of Justice in Canada.
Mr. MacFarlane has lectured throughout Canada and internationally (in
Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Scotland) on a variety of criminal law
issues, particularly the causes of wrongful convictions.
He has been called as an expert witness on such matters before
several Parliamentary committees in Canada, as well as the Lamer
Commission of Inquiry into Wrongful Convictions (2006), the Driskell
Commission of Inquiry (Chief Justice LeSage – 2007), the Goudge Inquiry
into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario (2008) and the Air India
Inquiry (Justice Major – 2010).
Mr. MacFarlane is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Phoenix, Arizona. He can
be reached at: (204) 999-0281