Nearly eight years after Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh was reported to be abusing children in India, Canadian authorities won't say if they've ever tried to protect foreign children from him.

MacIntosh, a Port Hawkesbury businessman who has faced many abuse allegations in Canada, was jailed recently in Nepal after a complaint he assaulted a boy there, the Himalayan Times reported Friday.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay confirmed this week that MacIntosh, 71, has been arrested.

"I have long held a strong interest in this file and I was dismayed to hear that another child has been victimized," said MacKay in a statement.

"There is a devastating history around this individual where numerous victims and their families continue to struggle to overcome the horrendous abuse endured. We will lend assistance in whatever way possible to see that justice is done."

MacIntosh was first charged in 1995 with abusing boys in Cape Breton 20 years earlier. But the international allegations go back decades as well.

In 2007, the Toronto Star published a story by an India-based reporter saying he had made a habit in New Delhi of donating to churches and schools and abusing the boys who attended them.

He had been kicked out of an apartment and banned from two schools because of his behaviour, wrote Matt McClure, who also interviewed Indian men who recounted abuse by MacIntosh years earlier. MacIntosh had moved to India in 1994.

Foreign children 'forgotten voice in this story'

Since 1997, it has been a crime in Canada to sexually abuse children abroad. The law passed that year, similar to legislation in the United States and many other countries, was meant to protect vulnerable, often poor children from predatory Canadian "child sex tourists" who abuse as they travel.

Only a handful of Canadian citizens have been prosecuted at home for abusing minors while overseas. MacIntosh wasn't one of them, despite McClure's report.

Foreign children have "really been the forgotten voice in this story," said Benjamin Perrin, a law professor at the University of British Columbia.

"This is an individual who has a very, very long history of allegations of this kind against him abroad, and ... it certainly is very concerning that the Canadian justice system has dealt so very, very poorly with the allegations against him."

A New Delhi policeman told McClure that it seemed "the whole system in Canada was asleep."

Spokespeople for the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Justice both referred questions about MacIntosh's activities abroad to the RCMP, which would have been responsible for investigating allegations of child sex tourism.

When asked whether Mounties had ever looked into the Indian allegations, an RCMP spokesman said the force "does not generally confirm nor deny who or what may or may not be the subject of an investigation."

Interpol, which sometimes flags travelers deemed crime risks, didn't respond to an interview request.

Victim's have been tracking MacIntosh's travels

Some of MacIntosh's victims in Nova Scotia have followed his travel through the years, keeping records of his time in southeast Asia. Most recently, he has worked as a spice salesman in Sri Lanka.

"I feel it's my civic duty to keep an eye on this man because I feel so bad and embarrassed that he's out there," said Bob Martin, a Port Hawkesbury photographer who was one of the first to come to police about MacIntosh in 1995.

"I'm not a pedophile vigilante," Martin said. "It's just, I know 120 boys that were abused by him. If I know 120, there's thousands out there."

MacIntosh has consistently denied the allegations against him.

He was convicted of the Port Hawkesbury offences, but the convictions were overturned because it took too long to extradite and try him in what MacKay has called a "depressing display of bureaucratic bungling."

With the many failures around the Canadian allegations, it's "almost comical" to think that Canadian police would have fully pursued the Indian allegations, said Jonathan Rosenthal, a Toronto lawyer and advocate on sexual exploitation law.

However, Canada lags behind other western countries in general in its prosecution of child sex tourists, Rosenthal said. It doesn't share its sex offender registry with other countries, and it has only required sex offenders to report trips lasting more than a week.

More than 200 Canadians have been convicted abroad of abusing children, according to a 2013 investigation by the Toronto Star.

"Sadly, if they want to leave the country, it's almost like Canada's happy to export these horrible pedophiles to foreign countries," said Rosenthal.

A law currently before Parliament would toughen those rules, requiring high-risk offenders to report all travel plans and giving Canadian border services more authority to share that information with destination countries.

"Our government takes offences involving child abuse very seriously, and every effort will be made to ensure children are better protected," said MacKay in his statement.

If convicted in Nepal, MacIntosh would face nine to 13 years in prison, according to the Himalayan Times.