Federal Involvement in the Case of Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh

Border Control Issues

It has been suggested that Mr. MacIntosh entered and exited Canada between the laying of charges in December 1995 and his extradition to Canada in June 2007. While there is considerable uncertainty about whether or not this actually happened, it has raised concerns about the integrity of government systems in this case.

Border Notification Systems

The RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency both have information management systems that provide alerts to possible attempts to enter the country by persons who are the subject of active warrants. Such alerts can occur in two ways.

What checks take place at the border when travelling to Canada?

When travellers enter Canada, they are subject to an inspection. Based on what happens at this first inspection, the traveller may be referred to a secondary inspection. Before the creation of the Canada Border Services Agency (including prior to May of 2000), the systems of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (the agency then responsible for border services) allowed officers at secondary inspection to run an inquiry for an active warrant in an RCMP database only at major ports of entry. Now, Canada Border Services Agency officers can query all active warrants in their database at secondary examination at all automated ports of entry. Most ports of entry in Canada are now automated.

Canada Border Services Agency officials also use a second type of alert known as a “lookout” which is entered into their system on the Agency’s own initiative or upon the request of a law enforcement or security agency. Border Services officers receive a notification at the primary inspection if they encounter a person who is the subject of a lookout trying to enter Canada. The lookout contains instructions directing the Border Services officer to next steps including, at secondary examination, contact information of the issuing law enforcement agency.

How long do lookouts stay on the system?

When Canada Border Services Agency creates a lookout, an expiry date is assigned following established criteria. A lookout expires automatically unless it is extended or renewed by the requestor. In the case of arrest warrants, the lookout can be adjusted to match the warrant expiry date.

The system, however, does not generate any information about an expired lookout that would be available to Canada Border Services Agency officers at either primary or secondary inspection.

The MacIntosh File

Canada Border Services Agency has no information to indicate that Mr. MacIntosh entered or left Canada between 1997 and 2007. Nor does the Canadian mission in New Delhi have any evidence, despite media reports to the contrary.

Although anyone entering Canada must present themselves to the Canada Border Services Agency upon arrival, the border control systems at the time did not record every traveller, or even every holder of a Canadian passport. Consequently, it is impossible to draw a firm conclusion from Canada Border Services Agency records as to whether Mr. MacIntosh in fact re-entered Canada. Further, Canada Border Services Agency’s record retention practices only required that traveller history records be kept for six years.

What we do know is that in October 1997, the RCMP red-flagged Mr. MacIntosh’s passport at the request of Nova Scotia prosecution officials and two lookouts were entered into the database then called the “Canada Customs Integrated Customs Enforcement System.” These lookouts were based on the warrant information provided by the RCMP. Had Mr. MacIntosh attempted to enter Canada while an active lookout was in the database, the system would have flagged him for examination at the primary inspection line.

However, there are some periods of time during which the lookouts on Mr. MacIntosh were expired. Had he appeared at a port of entry during one of these periods, no hits would have been registered. It is therefore possible that Mr. MacIntosh could have returned to Canada during a period when one of the lookouts had expired and prior to the lookouts being extended or renewed.

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