Federal Involvement in the Case of Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh


This report, like the Nova Scotia one, identifies mistakes, missteps, breakdowns in communications and errors in dealing with the MacIntosh file by both provincial and federal officials. For this, first and foremost, we say to the victims, who have suffered so much throughout this ordeal, we are sorry for the federal government’s part in this failure of the justice system. It took great courage for the victims to have come forward. The victims and all Canadians had a right to expect better from federal public officials.

The circumstances surrounding the failed prosecution of Mr. MacIntosh highlighted failings in the criminal justice process and pointed to weak links in other institutions on which Canadians depend. The federal involvement revealed human errors that might have been caught through better oversight, follow-up and communication between departments and agencies. There was a duty to do better as innocent people suffered further trauma as a result of shortcomings and failures. Sadly, prioritizing files involving child sexual assault does not appear to have happened.

The path toward restored confidence begins with providing an explanation of what transpired that led to delays and other failings by the federal government in this case. It is hoped that this review answers the question of what involvement federal officials had on the MacIntosh file.

Many steps have already been taken and others are being worked on to strengthen our processes. These include, most notably:

  • improvements in extradition systems and processes, including strengthened file monitoring and closer cooperation with and outreach to prosecution authorities;
  • system-integrity improvements to the passport issuance and revocation processes, including strengthened alert systems; and
  • improvements to strengthen the ability of border control systems to identify and either detain those who are the subject of active warrants or prevent their entry into Canada.

We hope that the remedial steps taken to date demonstrate a clear intention to make every effort to prevent a similar outcome from happening again. Once again, to the victims, we offer our most sincere apologies.

Ottawa, Canada, October 2013

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