Nova Scotia

Ernest MacIntosh sex abuse convictions tossed due to 'bureaucratic bungling'

Justice Minister Peter MacKay lashes out at federal officials for "bungling" the sexual abuse case against Nova Scotia businessman Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, but says he won't order a public inquiry because all of the facts are known.

Justice minister says there will be no public inquiry into Nova Scotia businessman's case

MacIntosh complainant speaks

9 years ago
Duration 3:40
One of the complainants, who can only be identified as BM, said the review doesn't hold much weight.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay lashed out at federal officials for "bungling" the sexual abuse case against Nova Scotia businessman Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, but says he won't order a public inquiry because all of the facts in the case are already known.

Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh, a former businessman from Cape Breton, N.S., faced two sexual assault trials. He was convicted at the end of both but went on to win an appeal. (CBC)

MacKay asked for an internal federal review into the handling of the case last month, saying the case has concerned him for years.

MacIntosh's convictions for child sex crimes were reversed on appeal because it took too long to bring him to trial, partly because he had to be extradited from India. Earlier this year, Canada's top court upheld a lower court ruling that threw out 17 sexual abuse convictions against MacIntosh, who is now in his early 70s, because of the delay.

The review looked into the extradition process, and issues surrounding passport and border control. It found that justice officials were responsible for the delay.

On Friday, MacKay apologized to the victims, calling the system failure a "depressing display of bureaucratic bungling."

Timeline issues

The abuse allegations first surfaced in 1995 when MacIntosh was working as a consultant in India.

RCMP received complaints from two men who said MacIntosh abused them back in the 1970s when they were boys growing up in Nova Scotia.

MacIntosh wasn't extradited to Canada until 2007 and his first trial didn't begin until 2010.

At the time, MacIntosh was convicted on 13 counts of gross indecency and indecent assault, and sentenced to four years in prison. In a second trial, he was convicted on another four counts and sentenced to another 18 months in jail.

At the end of the day nothing has changed and MacIntosh is still a free man.- Complainant

But MacIntosh's lawyers successfully appealed all the convictions, telling the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal that the delays violated his charter rights to be tried within a reasonable time.

MacIntosh's passport was renewed in 1997 and in 2002, despite the fact he faced outstanding charges and a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Passport Canada said in July that it has revised its policies as a result of the case.The federal review found that "border systems at the time were not adequate for catching this individual."

The report concluded that a number of measures have been implemented to prevent a repeat case.

Victims unimpressed

The complainants in the case have been calling for a public inquiry. MacIntosh has also pushed for a review. He still denies the allegations and says he wants his name cleared.

Dale Sutherland was one of the first people to come forward with allegations. Sutherland, who asked that his name be used, said the review doesn't delve into all the issues.

“'I’m sorry? That’s not enough. People have to be held accountable. MacIntosh wasn’t held accountable, right? So if you don’t want to hold MacIntosh accountable for raping me as a kid and raping the others, then you’re going to take responsibility for it," he said.

Sutherland said he'll keep pushing for a federal review.

"I'm not accepting an apology."

Another one of the complainants in the case, who can only be identified as BM, said the review doesn't hold much weight.

“An apology from the federal government is fine and this  review is fine, but at the end of the day nothing has changed and MacIntosh is still a free man.”

With files from The Canadian Press