When Weldon MacIntosh Reynolds, and several other men from the Strait
region, found the courage to tell police the horrible secrets they had kept
bottled up inside for some 20 years, they placed their fragile trust in our
In December, 1995 Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh was charged with 40 counts of
sexual assault and gross indecency. These men knew they would have to tell their
stories again in open court. But they had every right to believe their ordeal
would be over in a matter of months, and they would soon be able to begin the
process of getting on with their lives.
They could not have been more wrong.
While he's relieved to learn this is now going to Canada's top court,
MacIntosh Reynolds says the delays have taken their toll.
"It's been horrible", says MacIntosh Reynolds, "it was bad enough being
victimized by him, but then to go through all this and being victimized by the
justice system wasn't fair."
When you look at the facts, it's hard to disagree. The file is littered
with unanswered questions and head-scratching decisions.
According to court documents, three months after MacIntosh was charged
authorities issued an arrest warrant. At the time MacIntosh was living and
working in India. Police knew exactly where he was. In fact, investigators had
spoken with him over the phone and MacIntosh told them he had no intention of
returning to Canada.
A year later the RCMP had a letter hand-delivered to MacIntosh from
officials at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, telling him they
intended to seize his passport. MacIntosh hired a lawyer in Halifax, who somehow
managed to convince authorities not to revoke MacIntosh's passport and to remove
his name from the Passport Control List.
While MacIntosh was left free to travel between Indian and Canada at will -
a trip he apparently made several times - the move to extradite MacIntosh was
moving through the bureaucracy at a pace that would make even a snail
The first formal request from Nova Scotia prosecutors asking Ottawa to
extradite MacIntosh was made in August, 1998. The paperwork needed to issue the
order was not completed until 2003. Think about that. It took five years to
gather the documents needed on what should have been a simple extradition
Then it gets even more mind-boggling. The file sits on a desk somewhere in
Ottawa for another three years before the extradition request is forwarded to
India. MacIntosh is finally arrested in India on April 5, 2007 and returned to
Canada two months later.
Still, it wasn't until 2010, another three years later, before the first case went to trial.
To this day no one has explained why it took so long to return MacIntosh to
Canada. Even the courts don't have an answer.
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal quashed MacIntosh's 17 convictions for
sexual assault and gross indecency because it ruled those delays "prejudiced his
right to a fair trial." In that decision the judges wrote
, "no explanation was
ever offered, then or now, for why it took so long to proceed with the
extradition request, nor for the three years between when it was admittedly
ready for submission and action."
Weldon MacIntosh Reynolds has a theory. He thinks justice officials
and bureaucrats simply didn't care about a few men in Port Hawkesbury, Nova
"At one point I called the justice department," says MacIntosh Reynolds, "I
was told, quote unquote, they probably weren't going to do anything because it
costs to much money to send people over to India to bring him back, and he would
probably only get four years in prison, so it wasn't worth their time."
Whether it was indifference, incompetence, negligence or malfeasance, all
the complainants deserve to know why their case was shuffled to the
They hold the provincial and federal governments responsible for the
delays. They're demanding a formal inquiry that would compel Crown lawyers,
justice officials and bureaucrats to account for their actions.
That's not likely to happen, at least not while the case is before the
Supreme Court of Canada.
So there is a very real possibility that these men will go to their graves
never knowing why our justice system allowed Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, the man
accused of molesting them when they were mere boys, to hide, in plain sight, for
all those years.